Employee relations issues can stop you in your tracks. Every situation tends to play out slightly differently – and there isn’t always a clear path forward to follow. When you are faced with these tricky HR decisions, that sometimes need to be made speedily and judiciously, there are two basic principles to turn to to guide the way — precedent and policy.
Precedent Vs. Policy in Human Resources
1. Precedent in Practice
First let’s get a handle on what they are. Precedent is the HR way of saying, “the actions we have taken in the past.” It refers to the ways you have handled other similar employee relations issues, in real life situations.
2. Policy is the Foundation
Policy, on the other hand, is more theoretical. It’s more about what’s in your employee manual or handbook. It’s what’s been laid out in writing, about how you plan to handle certain situations, should they arise.
Should HR Policy or Precedent Lead?
When you need to make an HR decision, let precedent lead. Does that surprise you? Well, let us explain. Following your own precedent is what will keep you from being perceived as unfair or biased. For example, if a male employee was treated a certain way for a certain action, but you do something else for a female employee, even to follow policy, you are setting yourself up to be perceived as discriminatory.
What To Do If They Don’t Agree
If you are finding that your precedents don’t coincide with certain policies, it may be time to change the policies. Look back to the situations and evaluate why those decisions were made. Do they align with your values as a company? You may need to update your company handbook. If you are finding yourself overwhelmed with the documentation, get in touch! We would love to talk with you about the HR management services we offer!
Legal Disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal information or advice. This information and all Coastal Payroll materials are provided in consultation with federal and state statutes and do not encompass other regulations that may exist, such as local ordinances. Transmission of documents or information through the Coastal Payroll does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.