Company rules, like disciplinary procedures, are designed to ensure that employees receive fair treatment. The rules should be split into two categories: category one rules are rules where a breach will result in disciplinary action and further breaches could lead to dismissal; category two rules are rules which will result in summary dismissal. The consequences of a breach must be clearly spelt out.
Over the following sections we specify what should be category one and category two rules for an employer. Employees should receive written copies of a set of company rules which specify them clearly and should state that these are binding on all employees.
Category one rules
These are rules where a breach will render an employee liable to disciplinary action. Repeated breaches could lead to dismissal.
- Absence - failure to notify employer of being unable to report for work at the earliest possible opportunity. Failure to indicate a reason for the absence and probable duration of absence.
- Absence - in the case of sickness of 7 days or less, failure to provide self-certification immediately upon return to work. In the case of sickness absence in excess of 7 days, failure to supply a medical certificate.
- Absence - in the case of foreseeable reasons, failure to obtain prior authorisation from supervisor
- Absence - leaving employer's premises during working hours
- Timekeeping - lateness and leaving work early
- Company property - failure to treat company property with due care. Removal of company property from premises without prior authorisation. Using company property, time, materials and equipment for unauthorised work.
- Making and receiving private telephone calls
- Bringing visitors on to company premises without prior authorisation
- Smoking in areas where it is not permitted
- Drinking - bringing or consuming alcoholic beverages on company premises
- Gambling or making collections on company premises
- Meetings - arranging or holding private meetings during working hours or on the company's premises without prior authorisation
- Sole employment - engaging in other employment or business activities where there is a potential or actual conflict between the interests of the company and those of the other business
- Breach of email/internet policy
Category two rules
These are more serious offences constituting gross misconduct and rendering an employee liable to summary dismissal:
- Fighting and physical assault
- Theft - of company and private property
- Gross immorality
- Refusal or failure to carry out a reasonable instruction
- Wilful damage to company property
- Abuse of arrangements for clocking in and out
- Falsification of timesheets or bonus sheets
- Disclosure of confidential company information
- Seriously endangering the health and safety of himself/herself or others
- Any other reason giving rise to a right of summary dismissal, whether at common law or by statute
Model company rules
The following is a set of model company rules which can be adapted for use in most businesses.
The general interest of all employees and the efficient operation of the business requires the observance of certain basic standards of conduct. The rules set out below are binding on all employees. You are asked to read them carefully and to discuss with your supervisor any points you do not fully understand.
Failure to observe the rules will result in disciplinary action taken in accordance with the company's disciplinary procedure.
THE FOLLOWING LIST IS PROVIDED BY WAY OF ILLUSTRATION ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE EXHAUSTIVE.
Attendance and timekeeping
a) All employees are expected to report for work punctually and to observe the normal hours of work laid down in their Statement of Terms and Conditions.
b) If late for work, you are to report to your supervisor and explain the reason for lateness before starting work.
c) If it is necessary to take time off during working hours, you are to report to your supervisor both before leaving and restarting work.
d) If it is necessary to leave work before the normal finishing time, prior authorisation must be obtained from your supervisor.
e) The company reserves the right to make deductions from wages or salaries in respect of lateness or absence [note: the employee should agree this expressly in writing, e.g. in the employment contract].
f) Except in the normal course of their duties, employees are not to leave their place of work or to visit other departments without prior authorisation from their supervisor and the supervisors of any departments visited.
Absence and time off
a) If for any reason you are unable to report for work, you should telephone or send a message to your supervisor - if possible before 10 a.m. on the first day of absence. You should indicate the reason for, and probable duration of, your absence.
b) In cases of sickness absence lasting 7 days or less, you should obtain and complete a company self-certification form immediately upon your return to work. All periods of sickness absence in excess of 7 days must be covered by medical Statements (certificates). Statements must be sent to the company without delay.
c) If time off work is required for domestic or other reasons, prior authorisation is to be obtained from your supervisor.
Health and safety
a) Employees have a particular duty to safeguard the health and safety of themselves and all others who may be affected by their acts or omissions. Attention is drawn to the company's health and safety policy and employees are required to co-operate in its implementation.
b) All safety notices and instructions are to be strictly observed.
c) Safety guards are not to be adjusted or removed from machinery except by authorised persons.
d) No machinery is to be cleaned or adjusted whilst in motion.
e) All injuries sustained at work must be reported to your supervisor immediately and entered in the Accident Book.
a) All company property shall be treated with due care.
b) No company property shall be removed from the company's premises without prior authorisation from a member of management.
c) The company's time, materials and equipment shall not be used for unauthorised work.
d) On termination of employment, all company property, including tools, documents and protective clothing, is to be returned immediately to the company.
All information about the company's business acquired in the course of employment is to be regarded as strictly confidential and must not be disclosed to another party except as required in the normal course of your work.
Visitors are only to be brought onto company premises with the prior consent of management.
Smoking is prohibited throughout the entire workplace with no exceptions. This includes company vehicles. This policy applies to all employees, consultants, contractors, customers or members and visitors.
Alcoholic beverages are not to be brought onto, or consumed on, company premises.
Gambling is forbidden on company premises at all times.
Private telephone calls
Urgent private telephone calls may be received but should be kept as brief as possible. Essential outgoing calls may be made with the prior approval of your immediate supervisor.
Meetings, other than in the normal course of the company's business, shall not be arranged or held during working hours, or on the company's premises, without the prior permission of a senior manager or director.
Employees are not to engage in other employment or business activities where there is a potential, or actual, conflict between the interests of the company and those of the other business.
The following breaches constitute gross misconduct and may render an employee liable to summary dismissal (i.e. dismissal without notice).
a) Refusal or failure to carry out a reasonable instruction.
b) A serious breach of the company's safety rules.
c) Any act at work which seriously endangers the health or safety of any other person, including interference with any equipment provided for the health and safety of employees.
d) Violence, assault or dangerous horseplay.
e) Theft or fraud, including 'clocking' for another employee.
f) Wilful damage to the property of the company or a fellow employee.
g) Gross immorality within the workplace.
h) Sleeping during working hours.
i) Gross insubordination or objectionable and insulting behaviour.
j) Being under the influence of drink or non-prescribed drugs during working hours.
k) Conduct which is inconsistent with the continuance of the relationship of fidelity between the company and an employee.
l) Serious breach of internet and email policy.