Well, you are about to induct a new employee into the Club’s business.  After the usual introductions, the new employee receives the employment manual which contains policy, after policy, after policy…

The number of workplace policies that an employer needs to consider adopting can at times seem overwhelming.

Without covering the entire field there are policies for conduct, work health and safety, anti-discrimination and harassment, internet and email usage, mobile phone usage, smoking, drugs and alcohol, recruitment, anti-money laundering and whistle blowing.

The short answer is yes, they are very important.  But not all workplace policies are created equal.

What makes a good workplace policy?

When prepared and implemented properly, policies can assist a Club to manage their staff more effectively and to ensure that staff behave in a way which is consistent with the Club’s legal obligations.  A well drafted policy should spell out the standards expected of employees (including what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace), outline the procedures which must be followed by staff in certain circumstances and set out the potential consequences for employees who breach the policy.  They are best understood as a set of directions which employees must follow in the workplace.

It is crucial that each policy is clear and unambiguous and written in a way that can be easily understood by both management and employees alike.  The policies also need to be consistent both within the policy document itself and when read in conjunction with other workplace policies.  They must also be consistent with the law.

One of the most important features of any policy is that it should set out in very clear terms what the consequences are of failure to follow the terms of a policy.  For example, if the Club wants to make summary dismissal a potential consequence of a deliberate breach of a particular aspect of a policy, then the policy must state this in very clear terms.

To the extent that a workplace policy imposes obligations on an employer, those obligations should also be considered very carefully.  By way of example, it is no good promising that an employer will follow a set procedure when in fact such a procedure is not appropriate to all circumstances or is at odds with the usual practice of the employer.

Once a workplace has a set of policies, the next critical step is that employers bring their policies to the attention of each employee, regularly remind staff about their policies and notify each employee whenever the policies are updated. Courts have consistently found that merely having workplace policies is not enough.  Employers must also ensure that staff understand how the policies apply to them. This can be achieved through regular training.

Clubs should also periodically review their policies to make sure they remain consistent with the law and reflect the Club’s current practices.

Traps to avoid

Too often we see policies which are poorly drafted and are not fit for purpose.

In assisting Clubs with reviewing their policies, we often see old policies that:

  • refer to old legislation which is no longer in force;
  • do not reflect the Club’s current practises, particularly with regard to the use of technology at the Club;
  • contain provisions which are inconsistent with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2020;
  • have been amended by different people at different times over the years so that they are no longer consistent, both within the policy itself or when read against the Club’s other policies;
  • have otherwise fallen through the cracks while the Club has focused on updating its policies which concern more topical issues, like privacy, vaccinations or whistle blower legislation; or
  • are so poorly drafted that they are not fit for purpose.

We also regularly find that Clubs do not have any policies (or any adequate policies) on key areas.  For example, it is very common for Clubs to have inadequate policies on work, health & safety, managing conflicts of interest, AML or even a clear unambiguous policy dictating the standard of conduct expected of all staff in dealing with each other and with members and their guests.

The other issue is that some policies can (and should) apply to officers of the Club as well as other workers such as contractors, employees of contractors, volunteers and others. Ensuring that certain policies are properly drafted in such a way as to cover these types of individuals is also important.  For example, the consequences for one of those types of individuals breaching a policy will be quite different to what may occur if an employee breaches a policy.

Clubs considering updating any of their policies should consider conducting a comprehensive review of their entire suite of policies to avoid any of the issues identified above.

If you cannot remember the last time you conducted such a review of your policies, chances are that the Club is long overdue for one…

Further information and contact details

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of this Newsletter or want any legal advice about these matters, please contact our workplace relations partner Leonie Kyriacou or associate, Eleni Bastoulis or any member of the Clubs team on 8251 7777 or by email:

Leonie Kyriacoul.kyriacou@pigott.com.auEleni Bastoulise.bastoulis@pigott.com.au
Ray Travers:r.travers@pigott.com.auBruce Gotterson:b.gotterson@pigott.com.au
Tony Johnston:t.johnston@pigott.com.auJohn Ralston:j.ralston@pigott.com.au
Michael McCluskey:m.mccluskey@pigott.com.auJulian Hawkins:j.hawkins@pigott.com.au

This Newsletter is produced by Pigott Stinson. It is intended to provide general information only. The contents of this Newsletter do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought from us in respect of the matters set out in this Newsletter. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.