Could your company policies be viewed as forming part of your employment contracts?
In my view, the primary benefit of incorporating certain company rules and procedures into a company policy rather than an employment contract – is the ability of the employer to be able to vary and amend the terms of its policy or policies over time in order to accommodate the forever changing environment of business operations. The terms of an employment contract on the other hand, cannot be varied without the consent of both parties – so it can be a lot trickier to try and implement any change.
However, unless drafted correctly, you open the door to one of your employees being able to argue that your company policies do in fact form part of their employment contract – which could create a mountain of problems in circumstances where you want to implement any changes, and also in circumstances where you fail to observe any procedures / processes set out within them (in which case you may have a breach of contract claim on your hands).
The case law in this area is continuingly developing so it is important to be on top of those changes, and also to review your policies regularly in order to minimise any potential issues.
For advice on your company and employment policies please contact: