A boomerang is an object that you send out which returns, generally unbidden, to harm you. Some unwise draftsmanship in policies and handbooks can have that same effect. One thing to avoid in policies: do not promise ‘fairness’ or ‘equal treatment’ to employees. Sounds Draconian, I know, but hear me out. These terms imply that the Company will always provide fair or equal treatment (whatever that may be) regardless of legitimate differences among employees, such as behavior, conduct and performance output. “Fair” and “equal” are not defined terms. If you promise “fair” treatment, you may someday have to live with what a judge or jury thought was “fair” under the particular circumstances of your case. The Company probably will not like that result.
Instead of “fairness” or “equal treatment”, it’s better to set forth the rules and requirements and to say that all employees are required to meet these standards. If there’s a need for corrective action, do not use a lock-step discipline system that requires stepping-stone disciplinary steps. Rather, list the possible types of discipline and say that those steps can be used in any order required in management’s judgment.
As a HARDI HR Subscription subscriber, you can always ask for us to review your policy(ies) or just have a general conversation with one of us about draftsmanship. It can save you a good deal of effort and expense.