HR Administration

11 HR policies every company should have

By JD Farrugia

Mar. 23, 2023


  • HR policies can cover a range of topics, from recruitment and conditions of employment to disciplinary action.

  • Any HR policy should explain its overall purpose, how it ties in with the company’s values, instructions on how to follow it, and procedures for reviewing it. 

  • There are 11 important HR policies you should consider for your company. 

Imagine you run a human resources department at a tiny startup. The company doesn’t have any human resources policies because leadership can handle every employee matter on a case-by-case basis. 

But as the business grows, this approach becomes untenable. Teams are using different processes and job boards for hiring, and employees have quit because they don’t know how to resolve conflicts with colleagues. 

Don’t let your work environment get to this point. Set up HR policies that help keep your organization running smoothly. 

There are workplace policies for just about every HR matter — like hiring new employees, complying with local and federal laws, and addressing employee conduct issues. In this post, we’ll guide you through 11 essential HR policies that every workplace should have and what the policies should include. 

Key elements of any HR policy

Some of the key elements to include in your HR policies are:

  • The overall purpose of introducing the policy
  • How the policy ties in with the company’s values and mission
  • Instructions on how to follow the policy and who is responsible for doing so
  • Procedures for regularly reviewing the policy 

All HR policies are part of your company-wide human resource strategy and should be readily available to all employees through a handbook or document library. 

And now, let’s get into the top HR policies you should consider implementing for the good of your organization:

1. Recruitment policy

A recruitment policy outlines the procedures for attracting, screening, and selecting job applicants. It ensures that the hiring process is fair, consistent, and based on merit and without discriminating based on race, gender, age, religion, or other protected characteristics. 

Your recruitment policy should also contain new hire documentation, such as new position requisition forms and information on the onboarding process. 

A well-crafted recruitment policy streamlines and standardizes the hiring and onboarding processes, so they’re fair and manageable.  

2. At-will employment policy

An at-will employment policy allows employers to terminate an employee’s contract at any time for any reason except for reasons prohibited by law. This type of employment is common in the United States. 

  • An explanation of the nature of at-will employment 
  • The job duties and responsibilities
  • Compensation, benefits, and working conditions information
  • An acknowledgment that the employee has read and understands the policy

At-will employment policies must be clearly stated in the employee handbook and understood by all employees to avoid any misunderstandings or legal disputes.

3. Employment classification policy

There are various forms of employment classification — from full-time and part-time to exempt and non-exempt workers. An employment classification policy helps employers determine which category their workforce falls under. It is also known as the FLSA policy since it follows the Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines.

In your employment classification policy, indicate the different types of employees your company has and define the criteria for each type. Most policies will explain the difference between full-time, part-time, and temporary statuses, as well as exempt versus non-exempt employment.

This policy is critical for avoiding worker misclassification — hiring individuals as contractors when they’re doing the work of full-time employees — and costly legal disputes. It also helps protect employees by clarifying their wage statuses and if they should work overtime.

4. Compensation policy

A compensation policy outlines all employee benefits and payroll procedures, including: 

  • Payment frequency
  • Payment method (e.g., direct deposit or bank transfer)
  • Eligibility criteria for benefits, reimbursements, and overtime pay 
  • Guidelines on how employees can earn bonuses, promotions, and other incentives to promote career growth 

With a transparent compensation policy, organizations can build a culture of trust. 

5. Time and attendance policy

Employee absenteeism and tardiness can impact performance and productivity, so companies need to have measures in place to tackle them. An attendance policy can help by clarifying:

  • How many hours employees must work on a daily basis
  • How employees should handle scheduled and unscheduled absences and tardiness
  • If employees need to record working hours (and if so, instructions on how to do so) 

This policy is especially important when attendance write-ups lead to termination. You need to have clear rules about attendance expectations and consequences. More importantly, you should regularly schedule and document all performance reviews so to justify any dismissals. 

READ – The Practical Guide to Time and Attendance Management

6. Time-off request policy

Your time-off request policy (or leave policy) outlines the procedures for managing leave requests. It simplifies the process for your HR team and also takes your team’s personal needs into account. 

Your time-off request policy should include: 

  • How much time off employees receive and the different types of leave available (e.g., sick leave, family leave, and paid time off)
  • How an employee can request a leave of absence
  • How far in advance requests need to be made
  • How often employees can request time off and if there are any time-off blackout periods (e.g., over certain holidays)

Your policy should also take employment laws and acts, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), into account. The FMLA states that some employees can be eligible to take unpaid and job-protected leave for “specified family and medical reasons.” They can do this “with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.” 

7. Break policy

Your company’s break policy should communicate how many breaks employees can take in a day — including lunch breaks and short rests — and the length of the breaks. This policy helps to promote employee wellbeing while also reducing time theft

While federal law does not require employers to offer breaks, the U.S. Department of Labor states that companies that do offer short breaks of 5 to 20 minutes must pay workers for this time. States can also create their own lunch and rest break laws or default to the federal policy. 

For example, according to New York State law, the amount of time employees get for a break depends on how long their shifts are. Employees who work six-plus hours, for example, get 30 minutes. If a shift starts between 1 pm and 6 am, the break is 45 minutes. 

8. Remote work policy

Develop specific policies that cover your company’s procedures surrounding hybrid and remote work arrangements. Your policy should include:

  • Eligibility criteria: Who is eligible for remote work
  • Work hours and schedule: Work hours and expectations for work schedules
  • Communication: Guidelines for communication tools, availability, and response times for remote workers
  • Cybersecurity: Guidelines for accessing secure networks, using company devices, and protecting data
  • Performance evaluation: Processes for evaluating remote worker performance
  • Expenses and reimbursement: Guidelines about which expenses related to remote work are reimbursed by the company, such as internet and equipment costs
  • Termination of remote work: Circumstances under which remote work may be terminated

With a flexible remote work policy, HR leaders today can promote employee engagement and retention. 

9. Anti-harassment and non-discrimination policy

Provide a safe and non-stressful working environment for your employees by creating an anti-harassment and non-discrimination policy. It shows employees that your company values diversity and is committed to preventing discrimination or harassment. 

There are a number of employment laws and acts that protect employees against harassment and discrimination. Laws like these need to be integrated into your company’s policies along with your own stances and procedures:

By setting clear expectations for behavior and the consequences for violating the policy, companies can foster a respectful workplace culture and reduce the risk of legal issues. 

10. Health and safety policy

A health and safety policy outlines your organization’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of its employees, customers, and visitors, and it should include:

  • The roles and responsibilities of employees, supervisors, and management in maintaining a safe work environment
  • Procedures for identifying and controlling workplace hazards
  • Protocols for reporting accidents, injuries, and near misses
  • Procedures for investigating and resolving health and safety issues
  • The organization’s plan for complying with applicable health and safety laws and regulations, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which lead to the formation of the  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Check to see which health and safety laws are applicable to your industry. 

11. Disciplinary action policy

A disciplinary action policy outlines the consequences of employee misconduct or rule violations. The specific course of action taken may depend on the severity and nature of the infraction. It will include:

  • The different forms of discipline and the steps in which they will be taken. For example, they could start with a verbal warning and end with termination. 
  • The infractions that might not follow the same order mentioned above. If your company has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment or workplace violence, you must state that this will lead to immediate termination.
  • Outline how an employee can appeal a decision. 
  • Legal protection for your company. You need to include the conditions that show when you have a right to terminate employees at will.  

Your disciplinary action policy is crucial for maintaining a productive and respectful work environment.

Create and enforce HR policies with is an all-in-one solution for HR policy creation and compliance. It allows you to schedule shifts according to employee certifications, file incident reports, build attendance rules, and stay compliant with wage and hour laws. 

Learn more about how can help increase employee engagement, reduce turnover, and prevent absenteeism in your hourly workforce by contacting us today

Schedule, engage, and pay your staff in one system with