When a business first starts hiring employees, workplace policies are not typically a business owner’s first concern. The primary concern is making sure the employee knows how to get the job done. Hopefully, a job description is well thought out and at least some training is provided.
Even though it’s not usually the first concern, having workplace policies is a critical risk management measure for every business. A small business may not need a comprehensive Employee Handbook, but there are a few policies that nearly every employer should have:
- An Equal Employment Opportunity, Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy
Your business may not be large enough to have any Title VII liability, but many states, including Illinois, and many municipalities, including Chicago, have some anti-discrimination regulations that apply to employers with as few as one employee. Having a written policy demonstrates an employer’s commitment to non-discriminatory hiring and promotion. Policies are often used as evidence in litigation and, if your business has a policy that is clearly communicated to employees, the policy could be used to support you in defending a future discrimination claim.
- A Reporting Policy
We all know that we can’t solve a problem about which we are unaware. Having a policy that requires employees to report discrimination, harassment or other ethical violations that they witness within the organization puts some responsibility for preventing discrimination, harassment and other ethical violations on your employees. Such a policy is critical because many violations are a few levels down from management and ignorance is rarely a good defense.
- A Non-Retaliation Policy
Retaliation claims have been on the rise for the past few years. In fact, last year the EEOC received the highest number of retaliation complaints in history. That fact coupled with the numerous statutes that include anti-retaliation provisions, makes a non-retaliation policy critical to any business with employees. An anti-retaliation policy ensures employees that reports of wrongdoing will be thoroughly investigated without repercussions to the employee.
The above list is not all inclusive; they are just three of the more critical risk management policies businesses with employees should have. Of course, none of these policies will serve their purpose if your business doesn’t believe in them and enforce them.