An HR code of conduct is an essential document for all Australian businesses. The purpose of a code of conduct is to outline the ethical and professional standards of behaviour that are expected of employees. Essentially, it sets out the “rules” of the business and its culture, while promoting a safe and respectful working environment. Every code of conduct is individual and reflects the particular workplace to which is belongs.
Who Does the Code of Conduct Apply To?
This document provides a comprehensive framework that guides employers, employees and contractors in their interactions with colleagues, management, HR personnel and external stakeholders. If an organisation has volunteers it will also apply to volunteers.
The concept is to help all parties to understand the importance of maintaining integrity, fairness and respect in all activities in the business.
Why Every Business Needs One
A code of conduct has the capability to address potential HR issues including:
- Fulfilling legal obligations by addressing elements that may pose a risk in the workplace and ensuring your organisation complies with state and national government regulations.
- Conveying company values by clarifying the guiding principles that underpin your organisation’s culture.
- Directing employee conduct by serving as a guideline to assist employees in understanding company standards and expected behaviours.
- Rectifying unwanted behaviours by creating a basis for discussion and corrective action where undesirable behaviour occurs.
What Topics Does a Code of Conduct Cover?
For HR purposes, a code of conduct should include a summary of HR policies that that affect your business and can be expanded on in more detailed HR policies. Topics may include:
- Discrimination & EEO
- Harassment and bullying
- Diversity and inclusion
- Confidentiality and privacy
- Conflict of interest
- Conflict resolution
- Dress code/uniform
- Use of company property
- Leave policies
- Use of company vehicles
- Use of technology
- Professional development
- Appropriate behaviour and the values of the business
- Legislation that applies to employees and the business
- Drugs and alcohol
Things to Know Before Writing Your Document
Your organisation’s code of conduct should be written in everyday language, with clear instructions on the behaviour expected of employees in the workplace. In essence, it must outline exactly what employees can and cannot do.
A code of conduct document needs to be written in a clear, concise manner so it’s not subject to misinterpretation.
As an HR professional experienced in writing such policies, we can assist in ensuring all potential situations are covered by your code of conduct policy.
A final word on Codes of Conduct
Most importantly, the purpose of your code of conduct is to encourage and maintain appropriate workplace conduct.
This vital document can be used as a point of reference when you are dealing with issues related to breaches of your policies and the behaviour expected of an employee.
Having such a document in place can certainly assist in avoiding any escalating legal issues with an employee, which can be stressful and expensive.
For further expert advice on human resources or if you have any questions about anything HR related, get in touch.
Karen Hillen is your HR Partner, she helps businesses by providing HR support and advice services.
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