HUMAN RESOURCE POLICY
Human Resource policy is the body of principles and rules of conduct which govern an Organization in its relationship with employees.
Such a policy statement provides guidelines for a wide variety of employment relationships in the organization.
Human resource policies are the formal rules and guidelines that businesses put in place to hire, train, assess, and reward the members of their workforce. These policies, when organized and disseminated in an easily used form, can serve to anticipate many misunderstandings between employees and employers about their rights and obligations in the organization.
A comprehensive Human Resource Policy is important, as Human Resource or employees are the most important asset of an Organization. Organization’s set goals and targets can only be achieved through individual effort of every employee which translates to a collective hard work of the team.
Human Resource Planning
A poor Human Resource Policy document automatically leads to poor Human Resource planning and Management. Poor or incompetent human resource department have a negative impact on any organization, there will be no or poor training and re-training of the employees, Employee Recruitment Mismatch, Dissatisfied Customers, Decreased Productivity and Loss of Business, among others. Poor policies coupled with executive management that does not pay enough attention to Human Resource best practices will lead to poor decision-making process and critical mistakes. If you have a poor Human Resource system, you will be liable to have employees that will not have the best interests of the organization at heart which is likely to lead to termination of employment of employees by the employer for various reasons. Such decisions to terminate or dismiss an employee may end in Court if due process is not adhered.
Important to note is the fact that a good number of Employees successfully file Claims against their Employers in the Employment and Labour Relations Court for unfair termination. Why do Employers/Organizations lose cases filed against them by their employees in Court? My answer is that the back stops with the Human Resource Department. The Employment Courts quite often than not have returned a finding that Employers fail to follow Procedure while terminating Contract of Employment. When this happens the Human Resource, Departments is put on spot.
The Law on Termination of Employment Contract
Termination of employment can be initiated by either of the parties to a contract of employment (Employment Act, section 35 (1). Lawful termination of employment under Common Law. An employer may also terminate the employment of an employee but there is a need to comply with the provisions of the law and contract relating to termination.
A contract of employment may be terminated by an employer on mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. Secondly, when the employee dies before the expiration of the period of employment. Thirdly, when the employee is found by medical examination to be unfit for employment. Additionally, due to sickness or accident the employee becomes unable to carry out his or her work (Employment Act, section 41(1)) and finally, the employer based on misconduct of employee (Employment Act, section 44 (3)).
Clarity in Directives
Human Resource Policy must be unambiguous. The reading must be crystal clear and articulated with precision leaving no room for doubt. Spelling out the course of action clearly and concisely will ensure fair treatment for all employees. A consistent policy document is crucial in saving time and avoiding administrative overload, providing easy access to all employees is of utmost importance.
Taking into account that Human Resource Policy is a set of Rules and being part of the Law, Human Resource Policies are also dynamic. The same also require regular monitoring and inducing amendments when need arises. Legislative changes can make certain policies obsolete and changing needs of the employee population can make existing policies ineffective at the workplace in the long term. Human Resource policies pave the way for a standard that will be applicable throughout an organization. It is, therefore, a must that they cater to the entire workplace rather than a minority.
Startups and other smaller organizations possess the advantage of creating a conducive work environment for employees. At this scale, it is easier to resolve issues as it is possible to have one-on-one interactions with people working in the organization. In such an environment, it would be beneficial to have greater degree of flexibility, openness, and more individualized arrangements to attract people to the organization and to help retain them.
In conclusion, a comprehensive Human Resource Policy is instrumental in good management. Any decision taken by the management that are not guided by the Organization’s Policy guidelines will always be viewed to be unfair not only by the recipients of such actions but also the Courts. In the words of Hassan Choughari, “The hardest challenge being a Human Resource is that sometimes you have to be the LAWYER, the JUDGE and the HANGMAN.” Regardless of the approach an organization follows, the key to success is to devote the time and resources needed to develop the appropriate policies before the need arises. It is an investment on a comprehensive people strategy that will pay dividends by creating the right culture, instilling the right values, and building a foundation for success for the organization.
- By George Odhiambo.
George is a Lawyer in the firm and his work encompasses Litigation and Employment
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