© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D., Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Note that matters of employment law and regulations apply the same to for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Sections of This Topic Include
- About Personnel Policies
- Sample List of Personnel Policies
- Training on Policies
- Various Perspectives on Personnel Policies
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Role of Personnel Policies
There are numerous laws and regulations which regulate the nature of the relationship between an employee (and volunteer, in the case of nonprofits) and his or her organization. They are intended primarily to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably regardless of their race, creed, color or sexual orientation. They are intended to ensure that the treatment of employees and volunteers is based primarily on their job performance. Common types of activities guided by the laws and regulations are, for example, hiring and firing, benefits and compensation, affirmative action, rights of privacy, discrimination, and harassment, and wrongful termination.
One of the fastest-growing types of lawsuits brought by employees against their organizations is wrongful termination of employment. Other common types of lawsuits are in regard to allegations of discrimination and harassment. It is far better for organizations first to ensure that these types of improper types of behaviors do not occur than to have to defend themselves in courts of law. The best way to ensure the occurrence of proper behaviors is to enact comprehensive guidelines regarding how employees and volunteers are treated in the workplace. These general guidelines are called personnel policies. Specific sequences of activities resulting from the guidelines are often called procedures.
Note the difference between operational policies and personnel policies. Operational policies are to guide how employees conduct the activities of the organization, ranging from how a client joins a program to making sure the coffee maker is unplugged at the end of the day. Operational policies are not about the nature of the relationship between the employee or volunteer and the organization.
Developing Personnel Policies
Each organization should carefully consider what policies it requires and how they should be worded. When developing policies, always consult an expert who is very knowledgeable about federal, state/provincial, and local laws regarding employment practices. For example, in the USA, consider the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, and the Occupational Safety and Health Acts. In Canada, some major employment laws are Employment Insurance Act, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security Act, Canada Labour Code, etc. Personnel policies might also be governed by union rules or other contractual agreements.
Many organizations develop their policies first by closely reviewing the policies of organizations with similar programs and services. While that practice is a good start, you still should have authority on employment practices to review your policies. Finally, in the case of corporations, the Board should formally approve the policies and the approval should be documented in Board meeting minutes.
The following is a sample list of policies. Consider the following list to get an impression of some of the major policies in an organization. This list is by no means definitive for every organization. The policies developed by an one organization depend on the nature and needs of the organization.
Work day hours
Leave of Absence
Americans With Disabilities Act
Interviewing job candidates
New Employee and Internal Orientation
New employee orientation — general information
Agency-wide new employee orientation
New employee and internal orientation checklist
Overtime and compensation time
Classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt
Positioning pay within a salary range
Maintaining competitive salary information
Salary review policy
Withholding salary increase due to performance
Withholding salary increase due to leave of absence
Payroll Information & Timekeeping Procedures
Payroll information — General
Payroll information — Direct deposit procedures
Payroll information — Required and voluntary payroll deductions
Timekeeping — General discussion of non-exempt and exempt employee classifications
Eligibility and general information
Types of available benefits
Employee advisory resource
Workers’ Compensation Information and Procedures
When there is an injury or accident on the job
What is covered under Workers’ Compensation
Type of injury covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance
Medical expenses resulting from a work-related injury
Performance Assessment Procedures
Performance assessment cycle
Performance assessment process
Dealing with performance issues
Discipline: when the positive approach does not work
Separation from employment checklist
Communications by the supervisor regarding personnel issues
COBRA (Consolidated Budget Reconciliation Act)
Supervisor’s responsibilities in maintaining the budget
Discrimination or sexual harassment complaints
Complaints regarding programs or staff
Security of Records
Use of data
Destruction of records
If employees’ or volunteers’ (in the case of nonprofits) behaviors do not conform to the written personnel policies for your organization, and if an employee or volunteer sues your organization, then courts will consider your written policies to be superseded (or replaced) by your employees’ or volunteers’ actual behaviors that you appeared to be permitting to occur.
For example, if policies specified that employees should not discriminate on the basis of race, creed or color, yet there was a history of your employees clearly discriminating against other employees on that basis, then courts will conclude that your policies are to permit discrimination. Therefore, it is critical that employees and volunteers have clear understanding of each personnel policy and that their behaviors conform to those policies. The best way to accomplish that understanding if for employees and volunteers to be trained on the policies and for their supervisors to always be sure that policies are followed. Training about policies can be carried out by ensuring that:
- All employees and volunteers receive an orientation that includes overview of the policies and procedures.
- All employees and volunteers sign a document that indicates that they have reviewed the policies and will act in accordance with them.
- Supervisors regularly issue reminders to employees and volunteers about key policies.
- All supervisors themselves act in accordance with the policies.
- Any violation of terms of the policies is immediately addressed with reprimand or termination of the employee or volunteer, depending on the nature of the violation.
Various Perspectives on Personnel Policies
- Sample List of Personnel Policies
- Sample policy and procedure layout template
- Human Resource Policy Directory
For the Category of Human Resources:
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