Human Resources policies and processes refer to the procedures used to establish expectations for both employees and an organisation. By setting up effective human resources related documentation, small businesses can effectively manage their staff, and ensure a clear understanding of employee requirements and company obligations.

1)       What are the benefits to an employer of keeping an employment contract?

Whilst it isn’t a legal requirement to provide an employment contract, it can benefit small to medium business owners if they do. Without a contract, an employee is still covered by the modern award of their industry, which is always based on minimum remuneration. The benefit of an employment contract is that a business owner can state what the maximum remuneration is.

In addition to this, paying your employees above the minimum wage can enable a business owner to offset certain items by absorbing it into their salary. This means you can offset costs like mileage allowance or a exclude payment of Leave Loading.

This can also avoid issues later down the track, as an employee could be eligible for additional weeks notice if the business owner did not clearly state a termination payout in a contract.


2)       What are the benefits to a business owner of a probationary period?

The idea of a ‘probationary period’ enables a business owner to work with a new employee without the fear of an unfair dismissal complaint, in the event an employee does not meet the expectations of a role.

An employer has a chance to observe an employee’s strengths and weaknesses and how they fit into the culture of an organisation. This is a great advantage when determining if a staff member will thrive, without any risk.


3)       What are the minimum best practice policies that small business owners should implement?

A few key policies that serve both an employee and a business can include a code of conduct (including social media), workplace health and safety, confidentiality agreement, leave policies and a motor vehicle policy if applicable. This clearly communicates an expectation of how an employee is to behave within the company.

In terms of best practice, it is not enough to hand these policies to your staff and have them sign it. It would be preferable to ensure employees understand what they are reading perhaps by providing a series of situational questions pertaining to each policy, and having them answer correctly before signing off.

Lastly, it’s beneficial if policies are fluid, leave room for movement and are continually reviewed and updated as the business environment evolves.


4)       What are the steps a business owner should take to manage staff performance?

Step 1: Set clear expectations and job descriptions for each role that are understood by employees.

Step 2: Implement a system. For example, if an employee has an issue with a co-worker and brings it to the attention of a manager, a manager has a form to fill out noting in detail what the issue is and any relevant action taken.

Step 3: Review this information in a calm and timely manner, and then decide how to move forward. It should be noted that it is very important to keep a record of all issues, communications and warnings as they occur – should a business owner face a fair work claim for unfair dismissal.

This way, a business owner can show due process on record and prove fair actions were implemented accordingly.


5)       What policies should be considered when it comes to working from home?

Working from home policies revolve around health and safety. The safety you are required to provide in the physical office extends to an employee’s home set up. As business owners don’t typically inspect a staff member’s personal environment, a workplace Occupational Health and Safety checklist should be provided to ensure their home set up meets relevant standards.

By establishing clear human resources policies and processes by using employee contracts and good documentation, a business owner can minimise issues or confusion down the line. These best practice methods ensure that you protect your business as well as your employees.