Workplace policies (with examples)

Workplace policies (with examples)
SEEK content teamupdated on 14 April, 2024

Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or you’ve just joined the workforce, it’s important to understand workplace policies and how they affect you. 

Throughout your career, you’ll come across a variety of different employer policies. While they might vary from place to place, they usually cover the same areas, outlining employee safety, compliance with local laws, and guidelines for requesting leave. In this guide, we explore what workplace policies are, why they’re important, and what policies you should look out for before accepting a job offer.

What are policies and procedures in the workplace?

Policies are the rules or guidelines your workplace follows. They set the standard for employee behaviour and best practices across the organisation. Procedures are lists of step-by-step instructions that explain exactly how to put these policies into action. They provide a roadmap for you to follow to ensure policies are implemented correctly.

Common workplace policies include those related to employee conduct, health and safety, and leave entitlements. These policies ensure that employees are treated fairly, workplaces are safe, and everyone conducts themselves according to a certain standard. 

Many workplaces will also have industry-specific policies, such as childsafe standards policies at schools, confidentiality policies in legal firms or medical practices, or OHS policies specific to construction sites. In a tech company there could be industry policies relating to data privacy and security, or within creative industries about intellectual property.

Why are organisational policies and procedures important? 

Policies and procedures help organisations meet industry standards. They ensure that workplaces operate safely and comply with the law. Policies and procedures can also help guide employee behaviour by outlining what is expected of them, how they should behave, and what they can do if they notice a potential risk. 

Here are some other reasons why policies and procedures are so important. 

Safety and compliance

Many policies are in place to comply with state or federal regulations. For example, in Victoria, workplace health and safety policies help comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, and equal opportunity policies comply with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Policies promote best practices and create a safer work environment by identifying risks and hazards and providing instructions on how to manage them.


Policies help set expectations that reflect the company values and mission. The most common policy relating to values is often called a “Code of Conduct” – this lets you know how your employer expects you to behave, perform and interact with others whenever you are at the office or representing the company.


Having procedures to follow eliminates confusion by providing clear and concise instructions on what to do in a variety of different work situations. This ensures that things are done correctly and consistently to avoid problems or safety breaches. 


Policies keep everyone on the same page. When the process is laid out clearly, there’s no need for employees to make educated guesses on how to complete the task, which ensures everyone does it consistently the same way. 

What to look out for in workplace policies

To get a good understanding of the common types of workplace policies, here are some examples of policies to look out for.

Workplace security

Physical security measures

Are there things that may require you to get access from the company as an employee? Do you have regular evacuation drills? It’s always important to be aware of policies related to access control, visitor management and emergency procedures.

Data security

Are there any data security measures you have to adhere to as an employee? Check for policies on data protection, confidentiality, non-disclosure agreements and cybersecurity measures.

Employee training

There are usually training programs you have to complete as a new employee and your organisation may also have policies around regular ongoing employee training. Review policies related to mandatory training programs and certifications.

Equal opportunity 

Non-discrimination and harassment-free policy

Does the company you’re working for have clear, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies? Check that anti-discrimination policies comply with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. It’s vital to thoroughly understand these policies if you’re involved in the hiring process, to ensure you act in a fair and unbiased way. 

Time off policies 

When reading through your company’s workplace policies, pay attention to time-off policies that are relevant to you, noting whether they include the mandatory leave benefits (at minimum) or if they offer additional leave entitlements. Here are some of the leave policies to look for:

Employee conduct 

When starting a new job, you’ll be required to read through the organisation’s policies, which may be compiled in an employee handbook or provided to you as a series of workshops or videos. It’s best to take note of employee conduct policies as these set out what the company expects of you and what you can expect from the company. Employee conduct policies can include:

Employee health and wellness

Look for any policies relating to other employee benefits like wellness programs offered by the company or policies that encourage a work-life balance or provide support resources such as:

  • Employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Work health and well-being policy

Tips for job seekers when reviewing company policies 

Before you accept a job offer, it’s a good idea to look through company policies to see if their values match up with yours. Many companies have their values on their websites, so you can check online – or ask the recruiter or HR manager if they can share more in-depth workplace policies. Follow the below tips when reviewing company policies.

Read thoroughly 

Read company policies and contracts carefully, paying attention to details such as leave entitlements, code of conduct and safety procedures. Make sure they match the relevant laws and regulations. You should also look for any updates or amendments to policies and understand how they may impact you.

Ask clarifying questions 

If you find a policy unclear, you can ask for clarification, like how the policy is applied in the workplace. Understanding the practical application of a policy can help make it clearer.  

For example, you could say something like, I was looking at your annual leave policy and saw that it includes an additional 2 weeks leave per year, after a qualifying period. Would you please clarify for me what the qualifying period is?

Asking questions can also demonstrate your commitment to understanding and following company policies.

Research the company 

Researching the organisation can shed insight into the values and culture that you can expect when working there. Take a look at their website, social media and any other resources available, paying attention to the company culture. You can also look at employee reviews and the overall reputation of the company. 

Be observant of changes in workplace policies 

Once you’ve signed on at a company, stay informed about any policy changes through regular communication with your human resources manager or by reading all company announcements. Consider how changes in policies might affect your work environment, job security and career development, and adjust your expectations accordingly. 

Workplace policies and procedures play a vital role in creating an organised, legally compliant and safe workplace. It’s important to read your workplace’s policies carefully when you start a new job, so you know what’s expected of you at work and which actions could potentially cause problems. By following company guidelines, you’re doing your part to create a fair and secure work environment for everyone.


How often are workplace policies reviewed and updated?

Ideally, at least once every 12 months, or when any relevant laws or regulations are changed. How often workplace policies are reviewed and updated depends on the company, but should be regular enough to ensure they remain relevant and compliant with current laws and industry standards.

Are workplace policies legally binding?

No, workplace policies are rules for a specific workplace, so are not legally binding and can’t be enforced in court. However, the state or federal law or regulations a policy is based on are legally binding. If a workplace policy conflicts with any applicable law, the law takes precedence. While workplace policies themselves are not legally binding, any failure to comply with them could result in disciplinary action, including warnings or termination.

What happens if a workplace doesn’t have clear policies and procedures?

Not having clear policies and procedures can lead to confusion, disputes and risk of workplace injuries or other hazards. Having a lack of (or unclear) policies can also mean employees are unaware of and do not follow relevant laws and regulations, leading to potential legal issues. Clear and comprehensive policies are important in the workplace to help protect both employees and the company.

How often should workplace policies be reviewed?

Workplace policies should be reviewed at least once a year. This ensures that they continue to line up with evoliving values, culture and needs of the organisation. It’s also important to review policies when there are significant changes in the organisation, or industry standards. 

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