How to draw up an effective flexible working policy

With
the introduction of the Employment Act on 6 April, organisations will be
required to effectively communicate the procedures for dealing with employee
requests for flexitime. Here, Nathan Millard, solicitor at PolicyMatter,
provides a plan of how to draw up a policy to ensure corporate compliance

1.
Establishing policy requirements

Any
policy issued by an organisation should be compatible with – and a reflection
of – all applicable laws, codes of practice, regulatory requirements and best
practice. The final decision, however, on what goes into the policy must be a
matter of personal and commercial judgement. Despite a complex legal backdrop,
a policy that sets out to be unnecessarily comprehensive will fail as a usable
document.

2.
Drafting policies

It
is vital that policy is drafted in a way that reflects the culture (or desired
cultural change) within an organisation. Above all, the writer should strive to
use plain English at all times and shy away from ‘legalese’ or unnecessary
jargon. A policy needs to be capable of being understood by all who are
affected by it and should be unambiguous.

3.
Policy deployment

In
a minority of policies, a passive approach, such as posting a policy on the
intranet, is acceptable. However, for many policies, it is imperative the
organisation ‘knows’ the policy has been deployed to all relevant parties, and
that it can prove employees have understood what is required of them. This can
only really be done if the policy is actively ‘pushed’ to employees, requiring
no effort on their part, but also offering no way of ignoring the policy.

4.
Testing understanding and affirming acceptance

For
polices that are critical to corporate compliance, the organisation needs to be
in a position to track the penetration of the policy. This means both collating
evidence that individual employees have received the policy, and ensuring they
actually understood what they have signed-up to. Testing employee understanding
is traditionally extremely labour-intensive and, thus, often conveniently ignored.

5.
Auditing and reporting

Finally,
those charged with deploying policy need to be in a position to readily
generate reports on the deployment process – both on a macro and micro level. An
ability to share reports with interested parties to help authoritatively
demonstrate compliance can be a useful tool to, for example, win tenders or
deal with unwelcome scrutiny.

Summary

Corporate
policies are no longer just a ‘nice to have’, culture-shaping tool for large
businesses; with the introduction of increasingly strict legislation and the
attentions of industry watchdogs focusing in on compliance, policies are now
essential for all organisations. Although by no means a failsafe route to achieving
100 per cent compliance, the five stages outlined in this article should help
any organisation increase the value of corporate policies and help reduce the
risk of security and compliance breaches.

This
text has been taken from a White Paper entitled ‘The five critical stages of
policy management’, which is available from www.policymatter.com

Comments are closed.