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Key employment policies

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It is easier to achieve consistency of approach across an organisation if there are clear policies and procedures. It means that all employees know what is expected of them and all managers know the procedure for dealing with particular situations.

The range of policies you have is likely to be commensurate with the size of your organisation. If you have fewer than 10 employees, it is easier to adopt a consistent approach without too many formal policies. Once you have 30 or more employees, you are likely to need several policies. Such policies can be collated into a staff handbook if you wish.

Employment policies should be stated to be ‘non-contractual.’ This gives the employer the opportunity to update the policies without potentially breaching the contract of employment. It also means that if an employer does not follow the guidance in a particular policy ‘to the letter’, there are no grounds for a breach of contract claim. 

Policy essentials

In addition to the written statement of terms and conditions (see The written statement and contract of employment), all employers are advised to have the following minimum documents:

Grievance procedure and disciplinary procedure

For further information and links to example policies, see Disciplinary matters and Grievances.

A health and safety policy

If you have five employees or more, you are legally required to have a health and safety policy. For further information and access to example policies, see Health and safety.

Health and safety poster

You must display a health and safety poster. You can download these from the Health and Safety Exectutive (HSE) website.

Pensions information

Subject to earnings and eligibility, you will need to auto-enrol your employees into a workplace pension. You can find guidance as well as standard letters on the Pensions Regulator website.

Equality, diversity and inclusion policy

See Equality, diversity and inclusion.

Rules/code of conduct

You should publicise brief rules, covering matters such as making personal phone calls, confidentiality, accepting gifts, data protection and use of computers. Such rules may be appended to your disciplinary procedure and may also be contained in a code of conduct as well as within individual policies. 

Sickness absence arrangements

You will need to specify in writing what procedures employees need to follow if they are sick.

For further information and access to sample policies, see Managing sickness absence.

Annual leave arrangements

You should inform your employees in writing about booking and notification procedures for annual leave. See Annual leave.

Policy format

Below is an example format for your employment policies.

Policy statement

Include here a brief statement of your organisation’s stance concerning the policy area.


Explain here to whom the policy applies and in what circumstances.

Policy details

Here you can put the details of how your policy will work in practice.

Responsibilities under the policy

The responsibilities of managers and employees in implementing the policy should be stated here.


State the date the policy was drafted.

Additional documentation

As your organisation grows, you may find it useful to have some additional policies and documents. You may also wish to collate the policies into a staff handbook. You can either place your full policies in the handbook, or insert hyperlinks so that staff can find them online.

Below is list of suggested policies/documents, within a suggested staff handbook format.

xx Charity staff handbook – contents


Introduction to the xx Charity

A letter of introduction from the Chair of the Trustees or CEO


About the organisation

Brief history, mission, current and future plans


Joining the Charity

Induction and probation (with hyperlinks to induction and probation forms)

Performance reviews and supervision meetings (with hyperlinks to appraisal and supervision forms)

Staff benefits


Working at the Charity

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Harassment and bullying

Pay and payment method


Flexible working

Parental rights (maternity and other leave)

Sickness absence reporting and sick pay

Annual leave entitlement and booking arrangements

Arrangements for public holidays

Taking time off for religious festivals

Compassionate leave, parental bereavement leave and emergency domestic leave

Medical appointments

Health and safety



Time off for public duties

Child and adult protection procedures (where relevant)


Rules and expectations

Confidentiality and data protection


Time off in lieu

Drugs and alcohol


Email and internet protocols, IT procedures

Personal use of IT facilities


Computer security

Social media

Use of the organisation’s facilities



Acceptance of personal gifts

Talking to the media


Dealing with problems

Grievance procedure

Disciplinary procedure




Leaving employment


Giving notice

Return of Charity property

Giving references


Consulting and communicating about your employment documentation

Your employment documentation is likely to be much more readily accepted if you consult and communicate with staff as you draft it. If you recognise trade unions, you should also consult with them. Depending on your union recognition agreement, there may also be a requirement to negotiate with the relevant union.

Your staff will be able to tell you how things work in practice, and where things could be improved. You can build these comments into your policies and procedures.

You should consider whether any proposed new policy may make a significant change to the existing terms and conditions of employment of your staff. It if does, then you will need the agreement of your staff before you can make the change. You cannot change terms without individual employees’ agreement (see The written statement and contract of employment).

Further resources

Page last edited Apr 06, 2022

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