How to Implement HR Policies

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Human Resources policies and procedures govern the work, behaviors, interactions and management of employees. They can encapsulate a wide range of employment practices including hiring, benefits, employee conduct and more.
Any business with employees can benefit from implementing HR policies. They help employees understand expectations and employers manage with transparency. This article explains common HR polices and steps for implementation.


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What are HR policies?

HR policies support and supplement local and national laws and regulations regarding the hiring and management of employees. Generally, they govern four areas:

  • Recruitment and hiring
  • Workplace policies and procedures
  • Discipline
  • Separation


Why are human resource policies important?

HR policies are critical to keeping businesses stable and productive. Clearly articulated policies ensure that the business runs efficiently, employees understand what is expected, and hiring, management and compensation of employees is compliant with laws and regulations.


HR policies list and examples

Your company’s HR policies will vary, according to your business and industry. Some examples of HR policies include:

  • Anti-harassment and non-discriminatory laws
  • Employment classifications and benefits
  • Meal and break periods
  • Paid time off
  • Ethics and workplace practices
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Separation


Anti-harassment and non-discriminatory laws

Equal Employment Opportunity laws state that employers should not discriminate based on race, age, color, sex, religion or national origin. Sexual orientation, while not specifically stated under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII that governs equal employment, falls under the auspices of sex discrimination. Title VII protects employees and job applicants from discrimination during recruitment, hiring, compensation, promotion, training and benefits.
These laws and policies are intended to protect employees and management from harassment, as well as freedom from retaliation when someone asserts rights under Title VII or when someone participates in an EEO proceeding, such as testifying. It’s important for human resource policies to keep up with current interpretation of Equal Employment Opportunity laws to implement these in their business.


Employment classifications and benefits

Outline classifications of employment and eligibility for benefits. Classification of employment refers to the type of employment – for example, full-time, salaried, part-time, seasonal, or contingent. Consult local and national laws to ensure your company is compliant and outline eligibility criteria for benefits clearly.


Meal and break periods

In the United States, laws regarding break periods are implemented at the state level. If your state has not defined laws governing break periods, rules regarding breaks are considered the domain of the employer. It’s very important that employers state guidelines for breaks clearly in terms of frequency and duration. Break periods cover rest periods, lactation and meals.


Paid time off

Eligibility and procedures for requesting time off should be stated clearly. Time off includes vacations, sick leave and personal days. Policies for other types of leave can also be included in this section – for example, family or bereavement leave. Employers also need to determine if policies will allow the rollover of paid time off to subsequent calendar year.


Ethics and workplace practices

A wide range of policies and practices can fall under this category: financial reporting for timekeeping and business expenses, dress code, employee conduct, data security, rules for handling company assets, and workplace health and safety. Ensure you have addressed local and national laws as well as any regulations for your industry.


Disciplinary actions

It’s essential that causes and procedures for disciplinary action be established and stated in your HR policies. Disciplinary actions can include probation, termination and in some cases, legal action.



Separation policies address voluntary and involuntary separation of employees from companies. For voluntary separations such as resignation, a policy might require a formal resignation letter and exit interview. For involuntary separations which can include layoffs or terminations, a process should be implemented to ensure employees are properly notified and informed of cancellation of employment and benefits. There should also be a procedure for ensuring all separating employees have returned company-loaned assets, cleared outstanding accounts for business travel expenses or any other financial responsibilities.


How to implement human resource policies

Here are some guidelines for setting up HR policies:

  1. Establish an HR department or governing party
  2. Determine needs for your employee population
  3. Check all local, national and industry-related laws and regulations
  4. Communicate to your employees


1. Establish an HR department or governing party

For smaller companies, an HR department may not be required or practical, in which case, a governing party should be named. It’s important that employees and management are clear on policies and the persons responsible for managing them.


2. Determine needs for your employee population

Are your employees salaried, part-time, seasonal or contingent? Many businesses employ a mix of employee types. Consider also, the roles and responsibilities of different types of employees. While it’s a good idea for all employees to understand safety and health regulations, a warehouse worker, for example, may require more safety training on than employees who work in your call center.


3. Check all local, national and industry-related laws and regulations

Ensure you understand and have addressed applicable laws and regulations in your HR policies.


4. Communicate to your employees

Announce all HR policies to employees. If you are establishing an entirely new set of policies, an information session can be helpful. Provide a handbook or create a policy website. Any changes or updates to policies should be announced. Many companies require employees to sign documents stating that they have read and understood HR policies.

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