Having an Employee Policy Manual is a best practice for businesses who want to ensure that their team members have a clearly defined set of protocols to follow. These policies typically outline expectations around attendance, dress code, and how to treat fellow employees.
Lately, we've been hearing more and more about unique employee policies that you might consider downright odd. We've compiled a few of them in this blog.
Don't take too long in the bathroom
A Chicago manufacturer got into "hot water" its employees during the summer of 2014 when it began disciplining employees for "excessive use" of washrooms during the workday. They were quoted as defining excessive as anything above 60 minutes in a 10 day period (or 6 minutes per day). The employer even installed swipe card systems on bathrooms located off the factory floor after they determined employees were spending too much time away from from the manufacturing line. (Source: CNN)
Our take: This approach may be over-the-top, but this company is not the first to be concerned with extensive "breaks" taken by employees bringing smart phones into a washroom, often spending time texting friends or playing games. Canadian employers who attempted such a policy would likely face a Human Rights complaint, particularly considering Ontario's accessibility legislation (AODA).
How do you want your eggs?
News broke this month that U.S. tech companies Facebook and Apple will begin to pay their female workers up to $20,000 to offset costs related to freezing their eggs for use at a later date when they decide to get pregnant. Considering the bad press both companies received when they revealed the lack of gender and racial diversity in their organizations, this may be an attempt to woo more female employees. (Source: Financial Post)
Our take: Companies are able to provide any type of benefits or perks that they wish, but as HR professionals we have some concern that this might send the message that getting pregnant now is undesirable and may be career-limiting.
Don't ask for weekends off in this kitchen
U.S. restaurant Amy's Baking Company, which was featured in an unflattering episode of TV's "Kitchen Nightmares," has come under fire for requiring employees to sign an extensive "binding agreement," which includes items such as:
Holidays and Weekends are mandatory. By signing this contract you are accepting that you will be required to work all Holidays and Weekends. Due to the nature of our Industry, this is a necessity and any No-Show will be monetarily penalized with a fee of $250.00. (Source: Laist.com)
Our take: Even though employee absence is a real concern for employers, particularly those in service industries, it is unlikely that this type of agreement would hold up in Canada. Companies should inform applicants that working holidays and weekends is a bona fide job requirement during the hiring process, but attempting to apply a financial penalty for absence is unlikely to succeed.
It doesn't matter if you're a book lover
In 2011, Business Insider published a story based on an investigation into working conditions at Amazon titled "10 Crazy Rules That Could Get You Fired From Amazon Warehouses." They detailed that the retailer used a point system to keep track of infractions. Once an employee reaches 6 points, they are likely out of a job.
(Source: Business Insider)
Some of the rules uncovered include:
It's not called the Magic Kingdom for nothing
The folks at Disney theme parks want to maintain an environment that is magical and consistent for all of their guests. They have an extensive number of rules for employees (known as "cast members") to ensure those objectives are achieved. Guff.com published an article titled "16 Secret Rules for Disney Employees" in September 2014. The list is noteworthy (and hilarious) in its specificity. (Source: Guff.com)
Some of the appearance-related highlights include:
The list also includes a number of rules around behaviour, including:
It is not surprising that a company renowned for customer service excellence and a consistent customer experience would have such rigid requirements for its employees.
Want to learn more about employee policy manuals?
Clear Path is hosting a seminar titled "Establishing Rules of the Game: Building an Effective Employee Policy Manual" on November 6th, 2014. You'll learn what makes an effective policy manual, what elements are critical, what new elements you should include (internet use, needs of a multi-faith workforce), and what recent legislation you need to ensure you are in compliance with. Click here to learn more.
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