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What Are Some Must-Have HR Policies Examples?

When you’re creating a list of human resources policies for your organization, it can be helpful to refer to HR policies examples that illustrate what a good policy looks like to help you think about how you want to shape your organization’s culture through policy.

Here are a couple of examples of specific HR policies, as well as a demonstration of how a policy might be laid out in an employment contract and an employee handbook in terms of detail, language, and tone.

But first, we’ll briefly cover what HR policies are.

What Are HR Policies?

HR policies are rules, processes, and procedures that layout how employers and employees can work together to create an ideal work environment for both groups. This includes the responsibilities of both the employees and employers, as well as policies around perks and benefits.

These policies usually cover things like:

  • Vacation time and leave, which includes sick leave, parental leave, bereavement leave, and other types of absenteeism
  • Employee health and safety, which includes COVID protocols and other safety policies
  • Recruitment and hiring policies, such as job offer policies, diversity and inclusion, equal employment opportunities, onboarding, and more
  • Flexible working, for example core hours or location
  • Employee conduct, which covers sexual harassment policy, dress codes, and more
  • Technology usage, including a social media policy
  • Work travel, which includes expense reimbursement and remote work policies
  • Policies around training programs for new employees and ongoing training for existing employees

This list is not exhaustive. Keep in mind that human resource management policies should be informed by the relevant employment laws and labor laws in terms of state, provincial, and federal laws. One example is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which companies based in the United States need to follow.

HR policies may also be referred to as company policies, and in most cases will apply to part-time and full-time employees.

Read our in-depth definition of HR policies here!

Two HR Policies Examples

Here are two examples of essential HR policies to include in employee handbooks or written policy documents — vacation policy and sick leave policy.

Vacation Policy 

Here’s a sample policy you might consider for employee vacation time. 

Employment ContractEmployee Handbook
You will be entitled to an annual paid vacation equal to 20 days in each calendar year of employment prorated for any partial year of employment, to be taken in accordance with the Company’s vacation policy in effect and as amended from time to time in the Company’s Employee Handbook.”Every year you get 20 days of vacation to rest, relax, and recharge. 
Go somewhere tropical, catch up on your favorite Netflix series, or finally fix that hole in your fence!
Whatever you do, it’s our responsibility to make sure you get time away from work, and your responsibility to arrange and take it.
Vacation is accrued monthly, which means if you start half-way through the year, you have 10 days of vacation, rather than 20, in your first calendar year. 
Work directly with your manager to schedule a vacation, discuss any special requests, or arrange for an unused vacation to be carried over to the next year. 
And please, don’t forget to give your teammates a heads-up, so we can avoid sending out a search party!

Health (Sick) Leave Policy

Here’s a sample policy you might include for employee sick leave.

Employment ContractEmployee Handbook
You will be entitled to paid time off due to illness in accordance with the Company’s health leave policy as may be amended from time to time at the sole discretion of the Company without advance notice. Unused sick time will not be paid out for any reason.Upset stomach? Horrible cough? Runny nose? 
If you’re sick, please do not come to work and spread your germs and viruses! It’s your responsibility to take as many days as you need to recover and feel better. 
Health Days are paid time off. All we ask is that you call your manager and let them know what’s happening. If they’re not there, leave them a voice mail, and then call your trusted co-worker and let them know the situation.
[If you don’t offer unlimited sick time, or have a short-term disability policy...]
One thing to keep in mind: if you’re sick more than X consecutive days, or are involved in an accident prohibiting you from coming to work, contact HR. 
You may be asked for a doctor’s note confirming you’re unable to work. We trust you, but it may be required in order for you to qualify for coverage under our short- and/or long-term disability plan (short-term disability kicks in after X consecutive days of illness).

What Do You Think?

Are there any other HR policy examples that you’ve come across that are relevant or useful? You can also discuss your examples and opinions with the People Managing People community in our forum — join the waitlist here!

Don't have an HR department and need help setting things up before considering writing policies? You might find something useful from this PPM podcast about How To Approach Hiring & Recruitment When You Don't Have HR.

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By Mike Gibbons

Mike has held various senior leadership positions in the technology industry, most recently as the General Manager of FLIR Integrated Imaging Solutions. His responsibilities included coaching and leading a team of over 300 people; managing P&L for a US$100M business; and defining and executing business strategy. Mike is guided by his deeply-held beliefs in connection, curiosity, humour, empathy, and honesty. After much soul-searching he decided to leave the corporate world in 2018. Since then he has invested in and helped several early stage companies mature, grow responsibly, and live true to their values.

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