Human Resource management

Question

HR POLICY RESEARCH PAPER INSTRUCTIONS

In a research paper, provide researched rationale for the nature and substance of your 4 selected, distinct policies. This paper is to be reflective of an academic research paper. You will not include specific references to the fictitious company in this paper. The research paper must address the reasoning or rationale for the inclusion of the selected policy elements in your policy manual.

The selected policies must correctly address employment legislation pertinent to the stated size of the company (15–25 employees). In elaborating on the rationale, you may want to consider the following questions: Why should these elements be in a policy manual? What laws or principles mandate an organization follow these guidelines? What cases have established precedent for this issue to be addressed clearly in an organization’s employee policy manual?

Support your rationale with at least 10 scholarly references and the Bible. Remember, government websites and previous/current court cases are useful but will not be included in the “scholarly” reference requirement.

The paper must be not less than 7 pages and not more than 10 pages in addition to the cover page, the abstract, and the references page. It must be written in current APA format. Three points will be deducted for each page over the 10-page limit (for the body of the paper). To earn full credit, the paper should be 10 pages in length (see the grading rubric).

Following are some examples of HR policy topics. These are only examples. You may identify/select other topics that would be relevant and appropriate for a general employee policy manual/handbook.

• Dress Code
• Technology Use
• Code of Conduct
• Confidentiality
• Harassment
• Benefits (This can be more specific to areas such as “paid time off,” health care benefits, and so forth.)
• Training Opportunities/Expectations

No plagiarism allowed.

Answer

Contents

Abstract. 2

Introduction. 3

Harassment. 3

Privacy and Confidentiality of Personal Employee Information. 5

Discipline. 7

Health and Safety. 11

Conclusion. 11

References. 13

Abstract

            A HR policy manual plays a critical role in the day-to-day operations of a small-sized company. While determining the policy elements that should be included in the policy manual, HR officers should put into consideration existing laws, court rulings, rules and regulations established by the relevant authorities, and the fundamental human rights of employees. On this basis, this HR policy document provides details and rationale for the inclusion of specific provisions in a HR policy manual of a small-sized company. For each of the four components of the manual (harassment; privacy and confidentiality of personal employee information; discipline; and health and safety), the underlying objective is to ensure that the rights of both the employers and the employees are protected.

Introduction

The company whose HR policy manual is explained in this paper is a small-sized enterprise with 25 employees. The policy manual contains four components: harassment; privacy and confidentiality of personal employee information; discipline; and health and safety. For each of these topics, the objective is to provide a rationale for the inclusion of the selected policy elements, to identify the laws or principles that mandate the organization to follow these guidelines, and to highlight the various cases that have established precedent for the issues to be addressed in the organization’s employee policy manual.

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Harassment

Harassment is unwelcome, characteristically repetitive conduct that denigrates or portrays hostility towards a person with an objective of offending, disturbing, or upsetting that person (McDonald, 2012). Harassment affect the victim’s employment opportunities, benefits, and overall work performance. It does this by creating a working environment that is hostile, offensive, and intimidating. Examples of conduct that constitutes harassment include denigrating jokes, threatening, negative stereotyping, racial slurs, intimidating, and display of graphic material that shows hostility towards an individual or a group of individuals (Dowling Jr., 2001). The company prohibits harassment based on characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, marital status, age, religion, race, national origin, creed, disability or any other characteristic that is protected by law. Each individual employee has a right to carry out his or her work-related engagements in a professional atmosphere free of discriminatory practices such as harassment.

The company encourages employees who feel that they have been harassed to bring the matter to the attention of their supervisors. The company will take up the matter and investigate the allegations. The actions that it will take against the perpetrators will depend on the outcome of the investigation. The investigation process as well as the outcomes will be treated with confidentiality. The company prohibits any efforts by an employee to retaliate against another for lodging a complaint regarding a violation of the anti-harassment policy. Similarly, no one shall retaliate against any employee who decided to participate in an investigation arising from alleged violations of the anti-harassment policy.

In the United States, there are a number of laws that expressly prohibit harassment. Some of these laws include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967, the Civil Rights Act 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990. Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967 makes it unlawful for one employee to harass another because of his age. It also identifies a number of acts that may constitute harassment, including offensive remarks regarding one’s age. However, the law does not prohibit offhand comments and isolated incidents that are not perpetuated in bad faith such as simple teasing. It only prohibits harassment that is perpetuated so frequently and in a manner so offensive that it makes the work environment unconducive. It is also illegal for companies to perpetuate harassment to a point where it leads to adverse employment decisions such as firing or demoting the victim. For this reason, the company has made the right decision by prohibiting all forms of harassment in its HR policy manual.

Another justification for the company’s policy on harassment comes from various court decisions that contain strong anti-harassment sentiments. Incidentally, most of these court cases are related to sexual harassment. One of them is Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (Robinson, Kirk & Stephens, 1987). This was a landmark case because it was the first time that the Supreme Court recognized that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. Another important court case is Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., where the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff in a sexual harassment case needs not prove that concrete psychological harm occurred for a violation of Title VII to be deemed to have occurred. Two other Supreme Court cases, Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, are also important because they outline the circumstances in which an employer should be held liable for an act of sexual harassment that is perpetuated by his supervisory personnel (Fair, 2000). An analysis of the rulings of these court cases shows that the law has taken a clear anti-discrimination stance that every employer is obliged to promote. Thus, introducing a clear policy on harassment by the company is a step in the right direction in regards to efforts aimed at protecting the welfare of all employees.

Privacy and Confidentiality of Personal Employee Information

            The company has developed a succinct and adequately elaborate HR policy on privacy and confidentiality. This policy is founded on the philosophy of safeguarding all personal employee information. The company only collects personal employee information that it needs to operate its business activities and to comply with all government requirements in terms of reporting and disclosure. The personal information that the company will collect includes names of employees, date of birth, telephone numbers, addresses, email addresses, certification credentials, college certificates and testimonials, social security numbers, emergency contact information, and employment eligibility criteria. The company also collects information on enrolment in various benefit plans. Reference checking records, pre-employment inquiry information, and former employee files will be stored in locked, segregated locations since they are not required for day-to-day business operations.

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            The company treats personal employee information as confidential and for this reason will not share it unless in the manner required in terms of business operations and compliance with government requirements. Only authorized personnel will have access to this information. The company maintains hard copy records of this information, which it maintains in locked, highly secure areas accessible only to authorized personnel. Regarding the use of this information in various business system applications, company intranet and proprietary electronic transmission policies will be the core reference point for guidelines and procedural measures aimed at maintaining the highest level of privacy and confidentiality. Those who participate in company benefit plans are hereby notified that plan providers will be given access to the information since this is a requirement in record keeping and claims handling needs.

            The rationale for the adoption of this policy is that every contemporary business organization has a responsibility to address potential privacy and confidentiality issues that may arise with the introduction of business-to-employee portals in today’s information age. A business-to-employee portal is a consolidated system that provides a one-stop shop containing a wide range of applications and information sources for employees (Sugianto & Tojib, 2007). The need for portals arises from the emergence of a globalized works where information flows in large volumes through the various mobile devices, computers, and other internet-enabled business tools. Although the information portals empower employees to navigate the rich information environment with ease, they also present unique challenges, one of them being confidentiality. For example, there may be a tendency by some supervisors may monitor the activities of employees through their comments and updates on social media websites accessed through the business portal. The policy manual on the privacy and confidentiality of personal employee information provides guidelines on how the company should handle this kind of information.

            Moreover, the policy on the privacy and confidentiality of personal employee information does not violate any existing laws. Moreover, this policy has been development with the existing lack of clarity in law regarding standards for limiting the amount of information that is collected and utilized at the workplace. As a matter of fact, no successful legal standards or regulations have yet been developed in the United States for governing the way personal information is collected in the workplace or within the cyberspace for that matter (Finkin, 2001). Under these circumstances, the move by the company to set up elaborate policies that address this issue constitute a crucial towards self-regulation in the industry, which a good thing for employers and employees alike. As an employer, the company will benefit by avoiding litigation initiated by disgruntled employees who feel that their personal information was used in an unauthorized manner. On the other hand, employees will benefit through increased level of satisfaction with the day-to-day use of the company’s business-to employee portals.

Discipline

            The discipline policy for the company is divided into three components: grounds for disciplinary action, procedures, and termination. Regarding disciplinary action, the company reserves every right to take disciplinary on any employee who has violated the policies, rules of conduct, and practices of the company. Misconduct and poor performance can also be used as grounds for various disciplinary actions, including termination. The actions that are highlighted in this section do not by any means constitute a comprehensive list of actions that may lead to disciplinary action*. The list is only meant to provide examples of the type of conduct that the company will never tolerate.

            To begin with, employees are prohibited from engaging in acts of harassment or discrimination within the workplace. They must also not possess, distribute, or be under the influence of drugs and controlled substances. Other prohibited acts include unauthorized use of property, devices, and equipment belonging to the company, damaging, stealing, and destroying company property, misrepresentation, omission, or falsification of documents, information, or records, and insubordination. The company will also not tolerate possession of unauthorized weapons within its procession, actions aimed at disparaging supervisors and co-workers, violent activity, and disclosure of proprietary or confidential company without authorization. This disciplinary policy also prohibits any other conduct that contravenes the standards, policies, procedures, and expectations of the company. This role of this list is not to highlight every activity, act, or conduct that may culminate in disciplinary action. Rather, it is merely indicative of the types of events and actions that are subject to action by the company’s disciplinary committee.

             There are many studies that support the idea of taking disciplinary action against errant employees. For example, Einarsen, Hoel and Cooper (2003) argue that whenever bullying occurs in the workplace, the bullied employee should report the matter to a personnel manager, who should designate a manager to carry out an investigation to determine whether the matter warrants a disciplinary hearing and subsequent disciplinary action. On the other hand, De Lara, Tacoronte and Ding (2006) opine that coercive disciplinary sanctions are a necessity in situations where employees engage in unacceptable conduct such as cyber loafing. Cyber loafing is the tendency by employees to engage in internet-related activities that are unrelated to their job during working hours and using the resources of the company. The behavior has become a cost problems for most contemporary organizations. For example, study findings indicate that it reduces employee productivity by up to 40 percent (De Lara, Tacoronte & Ding, 2006).

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            Regarding procedures for disciplinary action, the company may resort to several options geared towards correcting unacceptable actions or behavior. The company reserves the right to discipline an employee by issuing oral and/or written warnings or putting the employee on probation. The said employee may also be suspended, demoted, or discharged. There are some situations where some other disciplinary action may be taken against the employee. The company may not follow any particular order in choosing the type of disciplinary action to take at any given time. It is the sole discretion of the company to determine the course of action it deems appropriate. Nevertheless, the company will uphold the statutory right of the employee in regards to statutory accompaniment and workforce representation during disciplinary procedures.

            The choice of a progressive system of disciplinary action is justified by the counterproductive binding effect of placing such a policy in a policy manual. In a progressive system of discipline, the company may change the procedure that it follows to instill discipline depending on the nature of the offending act, behavior, or conduct. Stipulating the procedure that the company will adhere to only create a situation where the company may be held liable for failing to adhere to its own policy manual in each situation.

            On the other hand, the recognition of the employee’s right to workforce representation and statutory accompaniment is widely supported in literature (Earnshaw, Marchington & Goodman, 2001; Edwards, Ram & Black, 2004; Antcliff & Saundry, 2009). Research evidence suggests that workforce representation and employee accompaniment tend to be highly influential in terms of facilitating speedy resolution of disputes in the workplace (Antcliff & Saundry, 2009). Thus, it is for the benefit of both the employee and the employer to include this provision in policy manual as far as the procedure for disciplinary action is concerned. This is because employees’ statutory rights are safeguarded while the company avoids an undesirable situation whereby it is compelled to waste much of its valuable time handling disciplinary cases.

            In terms of termination, employment with the company is considered an at-will engagement and termination may be initiated at any time either voluntarily or involuntarily. Upon termination, an employee shall continue working until the last day of employment as per the schedule, turn in paperwork and reports that need to be completed, return all company documents and property, and participate in an exit interview as may be required by the designated HR officer. Equal employment opportunity laws in the United States provide that termination of employment is only subject to the private employer-employee contract or a labor contract binding the employer and the employees covered under the labor contract. Thus, the grounds for termination under the company’s HR policy manual are justified, particularly in light of the fact that none of its 25 employees is working under a labor contract. The only other context under which the equal employment opportunity laws prohibit termination is when it is undertaken as a form of discrimination or because of an employee’s involvement in whistleblowing. This provision, too, is catered for under the company’s HR policy through the declaration of an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination stance.

Health and Safety

            The company shall take every precaution to safeguard a safe working environment for each employee. The company has already put in place rules and measures aimed at protecting all employees while they are at their places of work. However, the company also recognizes that each employee has a responsibility to play in helping prevent accidents. This policy is in line with the guidelines for health and safety that have been put in place under U.S. laws. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act stipulates that all employers have a duty to create a workplace that is free from any recognized, serious hazards. Nearly every employee working in the country comes under the jurisdiction of OSHA with few exceptions being miners, the self-employed, public employees, and some transportation workers. The company’s employees work fall under this jurisdiction because none of them works in the categories highlighted as exceptions. The company’s move to require employees to help prevent accidents wherever possible, falls within its mandate of taking overall responsibility for workplace health and safety outcomes. Even if the company takes the best measures to prevent accidents, they are still likely to occur if employees adopt unsafe, reckless, and negligent work practices.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this HR policy manual provides guidelines on four areas: harassment; privacy and confidentiality of personal employee information; discipline; and health and safety. Regarding harassment, the company is justified in developing elaborate guidelines aimed at promoting harmonious coexistence at the workplace as provided for under the law. The rationale for this policy is justified by both specific sections of U.S. law and various court rulings. On the other hand, the company has placed a lot of emphasis on privacy and confidentiality of personal employee information in order to provide guidelines that employees need to remain highly productive particularly in today’s information age. Consequently, they fully understand the level of privacy and confidentiality they should expect to have while accessing the company’s web portal. Lastly, discipline as well as health and safety constitute crucial components of the company’s HR policy because of the need to promote rules of conduct and safe working conditions respectively.

References

Antcliff, V. & Saundry, R. (2009). Accompaniment, Workplace Representation and Disciplinary Outcomes in British Workplaces — Just a Formality? British Journal of Industrial Relations, 47(1), 100-121.

De Lara, P., Tacoronte, D. & Ding, J. (2006). Do current anti-cyber loafing disciplinary practices have a replica in research findings?: A study of the effects of coercive strategies on workplace Internet misuse. Internet Research, 16(4), 450-467.

Dowling Jr., D. (2001). The Practice of International Labor & Employment Law: Escort Your Labor/Employment Clients into the Global Millennium. The Labor Lawyer, 17(1), 1-23.

Earnshaw, J., Marchington, M. & Goodman, J. (2001). Unfair to whom? Discipline and dismissal in small establishments. Industrial Relations Journal, 31(1), 62–73.

Edwards, P. Ram, M. & Black, J. (2004). Why does employment legislation not damage small workplaces? Journal of Law and Society, 31(2), 245–265.

Einarsen, S., Hoel, H. & Cooper, C. (2003). Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Fair, C. (2000). Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton: A Step in the Wrong Direction. The Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, 9(3), 409-423.

Finkin, M. (2001). Information Technology and Workers’ Privacy: The United States Law. Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, 23(5), 471-497.

McDonald, P. (2012). Workplace Sexual Harassment 30 Years on: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 14(1), 1–17.

Robinson, R., Kirk, D. & Stephens, E. (1987). Hostile Environment: A Review of the Implications of “Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson”. Labor Law Journal, 38(3), 179-188.

Sugianto, L. & Tojib, D. (2007). Measuring user satisfaction with B2E portals. Monash Business Review, 3(1), 1-8.

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