Ah, the glow of a fresh new year! It’s human nature to use the holiday season and the start of the new year as a time for self-reflection. As Labour, Employment and Contracts lawyers, we can’t help but suggest you also bring this energy to your business and take a fresh look at your workplace policies.

There are many legally required workplace policies here in Ontario, each with legally required components. Beyond those that are legally required, you likely have or want some other workplace policies in place. Read on for a refresher on those legally required policies and tips and tricks for your review.  

Legally required?

If you’re a business owner, or starting a business up, and you’re wondering exactly what policies are legally required, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered:

Health and Safety Policies

  • Occupational Health and Safety (for workplaces with 6+ employees)
  • Workplace Violence and Harassment

Accessibility Policies

  • Accessible Policy and Feedback Process
  • Accessibility Plan
  • Accessibility Training
  • Accessible Customer Service

And a few others:

  • Disconnect from Work (for workplaces with 25+ employees)
  • Electronic Monitoring (for workplaces with 25+ employees)
  • Pay Equity Plan (for private sectors with 100+ employees)

Legally required, no problem! Now what?

Here are our top tips for you to consider while giving your workplace policies a fresh look:

1. Check for legal compliance: 

While you’ll need many of the policies listed above, you also want to check to make sure your policies have all the information required by law. For example, does your accessibility training policy outline that you will provide accessibility training as soon as practicable upon hiring and again in the event of any policy changes?

2. Do you do the things you promise in your workplace policies: 

It’s not enough to have a workplace policy committing your business to doing something, you have to actually do it. For example, did you actually train your employees about providing goods, services or facilities to persons with disabilities as you promised in your accessibility training policy?

3. Consider what other policies you need to have a high-functioning and healthy workplace: 

The legally required policies listed above are just that, legally required and they are legally required for good reasons (like healthy safe and accessible workplaces). There are, however, plenty of other policies you will want to consider implementing or reviewing to give your workplace the best shot at being high functioning. While not required, policies that address human rights and anti-discrimination complaints, equity, diversity and inclusion, hiring practices, and working conditions like overtime and performance evaluations are all highly recommended. 

4. Draft policies that have a clear objective, are easy for your employees to follow and consistent with one another: 

When you decide to implement policies, a good starting point is to consider what the objective of the policy is. Sometimes your objective might be simple, for example, you want employees to know how overtime is handled or approved. In other cases, your objective may be more complex like when creating a complaints process for human rights issues.

No matter your objective, a workplace policy should be clear and easy for your employees to understand and follow. It’s easy to fall into the trap of formality and legalese. Write these policies for the reader and for the reasons they are looking to the policy. If, for example, an employee needs to make a complaint about another employee, this already stressful situation won’t be helped by an unclear or confusing policy.

Finally, compare your policies to one another. Be sure to use consistent language and processes across policies. Ask yourself whether the introduction of another process in another policy confuses or doubles up on another policy or procedure. 

5. When in doubt, seek guidance:

Drafting or reviewing policies for legal compliance, clarity, cohesiveness and their ability to achieve your objectives can be overwhelming, time-consuming and stressful. When in doubt, reach out and ask for assistance.

If you’ve been reflecting over the holidays, assume your employees have been too. With more and more employees voting with their feet, one easy step to retaining your talented employees is reviewing your policies to make sure they are supporting the workplace you envision. 

If you want to ensure you have all the mandatory policies in place and that they are all up to date, get in touch for a legal consultation!