Human resource policies

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Human Resource Policies are continuing guidelines on the approach the organization intends to adopt in managing its people.[1] It represents specific guidelines to HR mangers various matters concerning employments. It states the intend of the organization about different aspects of Human Resource management such as recruitment, promotion, compensation, training, selections etc.[2] They define the conception and value of the organization on how people and things should be treated. Therefore, it serves as a reference point when human resources management practices are being developed or when decisions are being made about people. A good HR policy could provide generalized guidance on the approach adopted by the organization,and therefore its employees, concerning various aspects of employments. A procedure spells out precisely what action should be taken in line with the policy.[1]

However, each company has a different set of circumstances, and so develops an individual set of human resource policies.[3]


The establishment of policies can help an organization demonstrate, both internally and externally, that it meets requirements for diversity, ethics and training as well as its commitments in relation to regulation and corporate governance of its employees. For example, in order to dismiss an employee in accordance with employment law requirements, amongst other considerations, it will normally be necessary to meet provisions within employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements.[4] The establishment of an HR Policy which sets out obligations, standards of behavior and document disciplinary procedures, is now the standard approach to meeting these obligations. They provide frameworks within which consistent decisions are made and promote equity in the way in which people are treated.[5]

HR policies can also be very effective at supporting and building the desired organizational culture.[6]For example, recruitment and retention policies might outline the way the organization values a flexible workforce, compensation policies might support this by offering a 48/52 pay option where employees can take an extra four weeks holidays per year and receive less pay across the year.

In actuality, policies and procedures serves a number of purposes :[7]

  1. They provide clear communication between the organization and their employees regarding their condition of employment.
  2. They form a basis for treating all employees fairly and equally.
  3. They are a set of guidelines for supervisors and managers.
  4. They create a basis for developing the employees handbook.
  5. They establish a basis for regularly reviewing possible changes affecting employees.
  6. They form a context for supervisor training programs and employee orientation programs.

Developing HR Policies[edit]

In developing HR Policies, there should be clear and consistent statements of the organization's policies regarding to all conditions of employment and procedures for their equal and fair implementation. In order to fulfill this objective, policies and procedures should be:[8]

  • Clear and specific, but provide enough flexibility to meet the changing conditions.
  • Comply with all appropriate law and regulation.
  • Agree with one another and reflect an overall true and fair view approach to all employees.

The HR policies are developed by making decisions and taking actions on the day-to-day problems of the organization. The Process on developing HR policies involved the assessment of the following factors:[9]

  1. Identify the purpose and objectives which the organization wish to attain regarding to its Human Resources department.
  2. Analysis of all the factors under which the organization's HR policy will be operating.
  3. Examining the possible alternatives in each area which the HR policy statement is necessary.
  4. Implementation of the policy through the development of a procedure to support the policy.
  5. Communication of the policy and procedures adapted to the entire organization.
  6. Auditing the policy so as to reveal the necessary areas requiring change.
  7. Continuous revaluation and revision of policy to meet the current needs of the organization.


The following steps should be taken when formulating or revising policies:[10]

  1. Gain understanding of the corporate culture and its shared values
  2. Analyse existing policies: both written and unwritten existing policies.
  3. Analyse external influences: HR policies are subject to the influence of many legislation, regulations and authorities, thus the codes of practice issued by the professional institutions, should also be consulted.
  4. Assess any areas where new policies are needed or existing policies are inadequate.
  5. Check with managers, preferably starting at the top, on their views about HR policies and where they think could be improved.
  6. Seek the view of employees about the HR policies, especially to the extend for which they are inherently fair and equitable and are implemented fairly and consistently.
  7. Seek the view of the union's representatives.
  8. Analyse the information retained in the previous steps and prepare the draft policies.
  9. Consult, discuss and agree policies with management and union representatives.

In order to write the first draft of the policies as step 7 have stated, the following content should be included: [11]

  • Policy name
  • Effective date of the policy and the date of any revisions
  • Approval status - At this stage the status should be 'DRAFT'
  • References - list other policies or documents related to this policy
  • Purpose of the policy - what is it intended to promote or achieve
  • Main policy statement
  • Definition of any key concepts or terms mentioned in the policy need to be defined
  • Eligibility or scope - Any stakeholders are covered by the policy
  • How to deal with potential exceptions
  • Positions in the organizations responsible for implementing and monitoring the policy
  • Procedures for carrying out the policy - preferably written in numbered steps

Types of Policies[edit]

HR policies could be classifies on the basis of sources or description.[9]

On the Basis of Source[edit]

On the basis of their source, policies could be classified into

  1. Originated Policies - These are the policies usually established by the senior managers in order to guide their subordinates.
  2. Implicit Policies - These are the policies which are not formally expressed, they are inferred from the behavior of managers, which are also known as the implied policies.
  3. Imposed Policies - Policies are sometimes imposed on the business by external agencies such as government, trade associations and trade unions.
  4. Appealed Policies - Appealed policies arise because the particular case is not covered by the earlier policies. In order to know how to handle some situations, subordinates may request or appeal for the formulation of specific policies.

On the Basis of Description[edit]

On the basis of description, policies maybe general or specific.

  1. General Policies - These policies do not related to any specific issue in particular. General policies are formulated by the top management, this kind of policies are called 'general' because they do not related to any specific issue in particular.
  2. Specific Policies - These policies are related to specific issues like staffing, compensation, collective bargaining etc. Specific policies must confirm to the board pattern laid down by the general policies.

Advantages of HR policies[edit]

The following advantages could be achieved by the set up of HR policies:[9]

  1. It helps the managers at various levels of decision making to take decisions without the consulting their superiors. Subordinates are more willing to accept responsibility because policies indicate what is expected of them and they can quote a written policy to justify their action.
  2. It ensures long term welfare of employees and makes for good employee relationship as favoritism and discrimination are reduced. Well-established policies ensure uniform and consistent treatment of all employees throughout the organization.
  3. It lays down the guidelines pursued in the organization and thereby minimizes the personal bias of managers.
  4. It ensure prompt action for taking decisions because the policies serve as standards to be followed. they prevent the wastage of time and energy involved in repeated analyses for solving problems of a similar nature.
  5. It establishes consistency in the application of the policies over a period of time so that each one in the organization gets a fair and just treatment. Employees know what action to expect in circumstances covered by the policies. Policies set patterns of behavior and permit employees to work more confidently.

Factors influencing HR policies[edit]

The following factors will influence the HR policy of an organization:

Laws of the country[edit]

The various laws and legislations pertaining to labour have to be taken into consideration. Policies should be conformity with the laws of the country otherwise they are bound to cause problems for the organization.

Social Values and Customs[edit]

Social Values and customs have to be respected , otherwise the employees may be offended. Thus, the values and customs of all communities should be taken into accounts while framing policies.

Management Philosophy and Values[edit]

Management Philosophy and values influence its action on matters concerning the employees. Therefore, without a clear broad philosophy and set values, it would be difficult for the employees to understand management.

Financial Impact[edit]

HR Policies cost money, which will reflect in the price of the product. Thus, the prices set the absolute limit to organization's HR policies.


  1. ^ a b Michael, Armstrong (2001). A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. London: Kogan Page. p. 289. ISBN 0749433930. 
  2. ^ Pravin, Durai (2010). Human Resource Management. India: Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. p. 133. ISBN 9788131724842. 
  3. ^ "Definition of Human Resource". Investopedia. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Business policy and strategy". 
  5. ^ Armstrong, Michael (2001). Human Resource Management Practice. London: Kogan Page. p. 290. ISBN 0749433930. 
  6. ^ Reasonable Accommodations Are A Pain, But Litigation Is A Bigger Pain, HR Advisors, 2007, retrieved February 1, 2014 
  7. ^ McConnell, John (2005). How to develop Essential HR policies and procedures. USA: American Management Association. p. 1. ISBN 0814408273. 
  8. ^ McConnell, John (2005). How to develop Essential HR Policies and procedures. USA: American Management Association. p. 5. ISBN 0814408273. 
  9. ^ a b c Aquinas, P (2009). Human Resources Management Principles and Practices. New Delhi: VIKAS. p. 174. ISBN 8125918094. 
  10. ^ Michael, Armstrong (2001). Human Resources Management Practice. London: Kogan Page. pp. 296–297. ISBN 0749433930. 
  11. ^ S, Sharma (2009). Handbook of HRM Practices Management policies and practices. Delhi: Global India Publications. pp. 105–106. ISBN 9788190794145. 

Model HR Policies for HR Professionals