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Are Your Outdated Policies Putting You at Risk?

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Are Your Outdated Policies Putting You at Risk?

As the new school year is well underway and 1000’s of mandatory reporters are back at their desk’s, preparing lessons and bracing themselves for the challenges ahead, I wonder how many organisations have outdated child protection policies? How many staff have an idea of their responsibilities, but aren’t certain of the procedures their employer expects them to follow? And how many employees assume their staff know what to do certain situations?

Many new enterprises start out with a general understanding of what everyone is supposed to do, and as the organisation grows more procedures are reduced to writing. But it shouldn’t end there. Policies need to be updated.

And of course, it’s not just in the area of children’s services that this applies. All businesses have policies and procedures of some description for three main reasons:

  1. They prevent misunderstandings,
  2. They inform staff of their obligations and protect them from liability, and
  3. They protect the employer from liability.

That’s three very good reasons to make sure your policies are adequate and up to date. There’s little value in having policies that don’t reflect current obligations under the law or industry standards. In fact they can be more of a hindrance than a help. Outdated policies create a false sense of security that everything is in hand. In reality they may do nothing more than keep everyone busy. The idea is not to create more paperwork, but to make sure the steps you do take are necessary and effective.

For organisations dealing with children, their Child Protection Policies are among the most important, but each industry will have a different focus. As the manager or business owner, it’s not only important to ensure that you have polices, but that they are reviewed and updated annually.

They should form part of the induction process for new staff and remain in a location where they are easily accessible. They should also be reviewed by staff on a yearly basis.

Industries that have undergone change, should immediately consider how those changes can be adopted into their existing policies and ensure staff understand any new obligations they may have acquired.

If you’re not sure what policies you should have, consider events that could potentially occur in your workplace and ask yourself questions like these:

  • Do your staff know what to do in an emergency?
  • If an employee is being bullied or harassed at work, do they know what to do?
  • If a client is injured on your premises, what procedures should be followed?
  • If a student tells you they are being abused, what does the law require you to do?
  • If a customer complains, are you confident your staff will know how to handle it?

The types of policies you should have will vary according to your industry but consider the following brief list of examples:

  • OH & S policy
  • Employment, Conditions & Termination policies
  • Child Protection policy & procedures
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Workplace accident policy & procedures
  • Code of conduct
  • Confidential information and record keeping
  • Personal computer usage and social media policy
  • Refund and Return policy
  • Travel and Expenses

This particular part of the NSW Industrial Relations website is also a useful source of information regarding workplace policies.

Some policies can be purchased online but they should never be considered a ‘one size fits all’ document. It’s essential that they’re amended to fit your business. 

Sound policies and procedures can prevent business setbacks and may be your best friend if you ever need to show that due care has been taken to inform or protect. Invest the time to set them up, but most importantly keep them current.

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