Sample Policies on Common HR Topics

In this section you'll find introductions to the HR policy topics listed below. These introductions will give you things to think about when developing a policy on each topic. You will also find samples for each topic.

In this Section:

Many sample policies are provided in this section of the toolkit. It is up to you to adapt, modify and customize policies to suit the particular needs of your organization. If your organization’s employees are represented by a union, the policies related to these employees must not conflict with any of the terms of the applicable collective agreement.

Sample policies are provided for information purposes only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of CCHRSC for any errors, omissions, or statements made. CCHRSC accepts no responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of reliance on such information.

HR Management Standard 1.1:

HR management policies are formalized, documented and approved by the appropriate authority.

Related HR Management Standard 1.2:

HR management policies comply with employment, workplace health and safety, and other related legislation as is applicable in the jurisdiction in which the organization operates.

Alternative work arrangements

An alternative work arrangement refers to any work arrangement that differs from the organization's standard work schedule and location. Examples of alternative work arrangements are flexible time, compressed work weeks and job sharing. A well-structured policy helps to provide a clear understanding of the expectations and responsibilities of all parties involved in the alternative work arrangement, and ensure that the same criteria for making decisions on alternative work arrangements are applied to all employees. Furthermore, a policy enables employees considering alternative work arrangements to understand how their request will be evaluated and helps to avoid potential perceptions of inequity that may arise from ad hoc decisions.

When establishing policies and procedures on alternative work arrangements, organizations seek to provide employees with a means to achieve a balance between professional and personal responsibilities in a manner that benefits both the employee and the employer. The potential benefits to the employer are: increased employee motivation and productivity; increased employee commitment to the organization; ability to attract high performing individuals; and reduced absenteeism and staff turnover. The potential benefits to the employee are: reduction in stress due to conflicting personal and professional priorities; and increased job satisfaction, energy and creativity.

Employees may request alternative work arrangements for a number of different, equally valid, reasons such as: child care, elder care, medical needs, education goals, or personal growth and achievement aspirations. However, in order to respect individual privacy, employees should not be required to provide the reason for the alternative work arrangement request.

The key to successful alternative work arrangements is the flexibility to tailor the arrangement to the particular needs of the individual and the organization. There are many types of alternative work arrangements. In considering which alternative work arrangements to offer employees, organizations should look at the arrangement's practicality, fairness and flexibility within the environment of the organization.

In the ECEC sector, alternative work arrangements may include:

Compressed work week

A compressed work week is an arrangement where an employee works the standard number of hours in a one- or two-week period, but compresses those hours into fewer work days (thus working longer hours on the days the employee is at work). For example, in a 40-hour work week an employee on a compressed work week may work four 10-hour days in a week with one day off, or nine nine-hour days with one day off every two weeks.

Sample Policy: Compressed Work Week

Job sharing

Job sharing is an arrangement where two employees share one position. There are many combinations of work hours that are used for job sharing. For example, one employee might work Monday to Wednesday and the other employee Thursday and Friday, or one employee might work mornings and the other afternoons.

Sample Policy: Job Sharing

Part-time/reduced hours

Part-time or reduced hours are arrangements where an employee works less than the standard work week hours.


In a secondment, an employee temporarily leaves her or his employer, department or program to assume a temporary assignment elsewhere.

Sample policy: Secondment

ECEC examples

The following are examples of alternative work arrangements currently in effect in various child care centres:
  • Employee A works 3.5 hours after school and also works four hours as a relief ECE during the day. This provides extra coverage during the day for breaks as well as extra help where needed.
  • Employee B is interested in gradual retirement and has decreased her full-time hours to five hours per day (7:00 am – 12:00 pm).
  • Employee C wishes to work part time and works 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm.
  • After school staff work 3.5 hours when school is in and work relief seven hours during vacation and school breaks.

Alternative work arrangements and legislative requirements

There are no legislative requirements on employers to offer or agree to an alternative work arrangement. However, when developing an alternative work arrangement policy, organizations need to ensure the policy does not contravene the employment standards of their province – in particular organizations need to ensure that alternative work arrangements are still consistent with legislation regarding hours of work, rest days/rest periods, overtime, short work weeks and averaging agreements.

While the employee typically initiates an alternative work arrangement, the employer might also initiate alternative work arrangements to meet operational or work-balancing/workload requirements. The employee has the right to refuse an employer-initiated work arrangement if it comes after the original employment contract is established. This is because the new arrangement changes the agreed-to terms of employment. Arbitrarily instituting an alternative work arrangement could be considered constructive dismissal and require the employer to offer the employee the choice of accepting the new work arrangement or taking a severance package.

Establishing and implementing alternative work arrangements

Organizations are advised to establish a formal alternative work arrangement agreement to be completed and signed by the employer and the employee prior to implementing the new arrangement. The agreement should outline the details of the alternative work arrangement, including who is responsible for covering any costs incurred as a result of the alternative work arrangement, any specific insurance requirements and performance expectations. With the exception of part-time, reduced hours or job sharing (where salary and benefits may be pro-rated), alternative work arrangements typically do not affect an employee's salary, benefits and career progression.

There may be a concern that individuals who choose to job share or work reduced hours end up working a full-time position for a part-time salary; or those who work a compressed work week are required to be available/on-call on their day off, or expected to come in to work for a meeting on a work-at-home day. These issues can largely be resolved through good communication of the policy to managers and employees. Additionally, managers should take the responsibility to ensure that all parties respect the work arrangement.

Sample Policies: Alternative Work Arrangements

For instruction on implementing a compressed work week, read: Compressed Work Week– National Arts Organization (PDF – 31KB)

Sample policy: Compressed Work Week

Sample Policy: Job Sharing

Sample Policy: Secondment

Sample Policy: Stretch Assignments

Code of conduct

A code of conduct lays out an organization's expectations for appropriate workplace behaviour. As illustrated by the samples, some policies also provide legal and ethical guidelines for relationships between employees, service users and clients.

A code of conduct policy should:
  • Be designed with consideration for your organization's values, the clients you work with and the service you provide
  • Be driven by the fact that your organization's reputation is based on the actions and behaviours of your employees
  • Provide guidelines for behaviour that is acceptable and encouraged, but it is not all-inclusive
  • Emphasize use of good judgment
  • Require compliance with all applicable legislation. (For example, the Ontario College of Early Childhood Educators issued a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in February 2011. Refer to your local association for links to relevant provincial or territorial codes of ethics and standards of practice.)
  • List prohibited actions or behaviour regarded as misconduct (and it may specify the consequences of violations) as appropriate
  • Refer to other related policies (for example: handling of confidential information, harassment and conflict of interest)

The samples below show a variety of ways to address code of conduct in a policy. Your code of conduct should be designed to suit the needs and expectations of your unique environment. Awareness and implementation are the keys to the success of a useful and practical code of conduct.

Sample Policies: Code of conduct:

Sample Code of Conduct

  • Provides examples of inappropriate behaviour
  • Mentions consequences of a violation of the policy

Code of Conduct – Canadian Diabetes Association (PDF – 48KB)

  • Covers accountability, conflict of interest and confidentiality
  • Discusses harassment and procedures for care of the more vulnerable
  • Mentions other specific policies related to this policy
  • Outlines implementation procedures include signing a declaration (employees, volunteers)


Compensation is a fundamental component of employment and one of the most critical HR management policies. While compensation traditionally refers to employment wage, best practice in today's workplace considers total compensation to include base salary, bonus or incentive plans, benefits and non-cash compensation.

Organizations should establish and communicate clear principles by which employees are paid. At minimum, organizations need to ensure that their compensation policy adheres to employment legislation.

Elements of compensation that are regulated by provincial employment standards acts include:
  • Minimum wage
  • Rate of holiday pay
  • Overtime pay
  • Equal pay
  • How often employees receive their pay
  • How payment is made
  • Contents of pay stub or pay sheet (information that must be tracked and reported to employees)
  • Deductions
  • Gratuities
  • Payroll records (information that must be tracked and documented)
  • Vacation pay

In a unionized environment, employers cannot unilaterally make changes to compensation. You must respect collective agreement provisions and negotiate changes with the bargaining agent.

Many organizations adopt compensation principles that ensure fairness and equity in pay rates and salary administration, and transparency in compensation practices.

An good compensation policy is based on objective and up-to-date job descriptions, effective job evaluation and performance management, and relevant salary administration.

Salary administration encompasses establishing:
  • Salary ranges
  • Decision-making criteria for salary increases
  • Timeframes for salary review

Establishing salary ranges

Organizations need to determine where they want to pay specific jobs/job categories in relation to the employment market (industry and regional compensation norms). Based on availability of qualified employees, funds available for salaries, and the ability to offer non-monetary attractors (such as vacation, benefits or alternative work arrangements), organizations make a choice to pay at the low end of the market, in the middle, or at the high end.

Organizations should conduct periodic reviews of their salary ranges to ensure that they are in line with the current employment market and their targeted position within that market. While large organizations may conduct their own salary benchmarking on a yearly or on-going basis, smaller organizations can purchase salary surveys when needed. Additionally, organizations need to determine the number of salary ranges that are appropriate for their organization. Organizations normally have a number of jobs within one salary range. For example, an organization may establish one salary range for all administrative jobs, one range for all early childhood educator jobs, and one range for all director jobs. Consideration must also be given to the increase from one range to the next, and whether or not the ranges should overlap. Once again, market comparison is a useful tool in making these policy decisions.

Placement on salary range

Compensation policies will often establish criteria for employee placement on the salary range. Typical criteria include years of experience, years with the organization or in the position, and specific skill sets related to the position. Consideration should be given to how the organization wants to position new hires on the salary range relative to current employees.

Criteria for salary increases

In order to ensure fair and equitable compensation practices, organizations need to clearly establish, communicate and apply decision-making criteria for salary increases. Decisions on salary increases can be based on a number of factors, such as seniority, cost of living increases, or performance (merit). The trend in compensation is toward performance-based pay. Organizations choosing to adopt performance-based pay need to ensure they have a clear performance management policy that is applied equitably throughout the organization.

Organizations may also implement re-earnable bonuses instead of salary increases. This compensation strategy serves to keep salaries and wages constant over time, however, may result in compensation below industry standards. A re-earnable bonus can be a useful tool to provide salary increases for employees who are at the top of the grid, without impacting the established salary range.

Salary review timing

Organizations need to establish regular timeframes for salary review. Typically salary reviews are conducted annually, often in conjunction with performance reviews. (Best practice organizations hold separate meetings with employees for performance appraisal and salary review.)

Bonus and incentive pay

Bonus and incentive pay are not typical components of ECEC compensation policies. When bonus and incentive pay are included, they are usually tied to performance. Refer to the Performance Appraisal section of Keeping the Right People for more information about performance appraisal.

In Québec, executive director salary increases are entirely performance-based. Bonus and incentive pay are considered best practice in other sectors and can be effective tools in motivating and retaining top talent, particularly at the director and executive director levels. As with base salary and salary increases, decision-making criteria should be established and communicated for awarding bonuses and incentive pay. Typically this type of compensation is tied to specific performance results against pre-set goals and objectives at the individual and organizational level. Results that are measured can be quantitative and qualitative, such as quality of service to clients, number of clients served and effectiveness of programs. When establishing bonus schemes, organizations often apply a balanced scorecard approach: looking at financial, human resources and customer results. In the ECEC sector, this balanced scorecard approach could translate into budget management, employee and volunteer recruitment and retention targets, and program development and client service achievements.

Compensation Policy – Community Foundation of Ottawa (PDF – 30KB)

  • Sets out the criteria for decision-making
  • Ties salary to performance expectations


While working for your organization, staff may be exposed to confidential information about families in the program, other staff members and/or the organization. Staff members are expected to respect confidentiality at all times.

A policy of confidentiality may include:
  • A statement of the kind of information that is confidential
  • Consequences for breaching confidentiality

To emphasize the importance of this policy, many organizations address confidentiality during orientation and require all employees to sign a statement that they have read and understand the policy as part of the conditions of employment.

Sample Policy: Confidentiality

Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest policies address situations and circumstances in which an employee's personal interests are – or can appear to be – in conflict with the organization's interest.

There are many different definitions of conflict of interest. Often, definitions focus on opportunities an employee may have to use their position in the organization to personal or private advantage or to the advantage of friends or family members.

Your policy needs to have a clear statement defining conflict of interest that suits your organization's purposes. It should also assign responsibility for identifying and resolving actual and potential conflicts.

While some policies do not spell out the consequences for an employee if a conflict cannot be resolved, others specify that failure to resolve a conflict of interest will result in discipline or termination.

Sample Policy: Conflict of Interest

Conflict resolution

Conflict exists in every organization and to a certain extent indicates a healthy exchange of ideas and creativity. However, counter-productive conflict can result in employee dissatisfaction, reduced productivity, poor service to clients, absenteeism and increased employee turnover, increased work-related stress or litigation based on claims of harassment or a hostile work environment. In addition to the productivity and cost benefits of timely conflict resolution, employee morale is higher when employees believe there is a fair and consistent process for dealing with conflict that goes beyond their immediate supervisor.

The conflict resolution policy should promote open communication and foster a safe environment for addressing differences of opinions. There should be a clear statement protecting employees from retribution for raising legitimate complaints and concerns using the conflict resolution process.

Conflict resolution policies and procedures often implement a progression of interventions, escalating the involvement of management and formal procedures based on the seriousness of the conflict and the inability of the parties to resolve differences on their own. Unionized environments often use the formalized grievance procedure for conflict resolution, as stipulated in the collective agreement.

Legal requirements

Harassment can be a source of conflict, and organizations have a legal responsibility to provide a harassment-free workplace. Refer to your provincial human rights legislation regarding harassment and the work environment. While a conflict resolution policy may provide a first step in dealing with harassment, organizations typically address harassment complaints with a policy and set of procedures specifically designed for that purpose.

Conflict Resolution

Methods of conflict resolution that can be included in your organization's policy and procedures, include:

An informal complaint process

An informal complaint process involves discussing the issue with an immediate supervisor to collaboratively understand and resolve work-related issues with co-workers or the supervisor. The policy and procedures may outline specific steps and objectives, and communication styles and behaviours that employees and supervisors should use to effectively resolve conflicts in the informal complaint process.

A one-up review

A one-up review involves discussing the issue with the one-up supervisor, again to collaboratively understand and resolve work-related issues.

A formal complaint process

A formal complaint process involves making a formal (written or oral) complaint to an appointed "conflict resolution manager" (often the HR professional on staff or the executive director). The manager then conducts an investigation of the complaint and recommends a resolution. It is important to outline the scope of the investigation, and how issues of confidentiality will be handled during this process. Confidentiality can be a particularly sensitive aspect of conflict resolution resulting from harassment complaints.

Some organizations involve the board or board executive in conflict resolution as a final step in the formal complaint process. If involving the board in the complaint process, it is advisable to specify only one or two members to participate in the process. This allows the organization to both maintain confidentiality and board focus on strategic – rather than operational – activities. Often it is the president who takes on this responsibility, or a board member with specific experience or training in conflict resolution.


Mediation may be used in a non-unionized or unionized organization. Mediation is a process involving an objective third party. The mediator (the objective third party) is often the HR professional on staff or another employee who is trained in conflict resolution, or can be an external professional mediator. The mediator guides the conflicting parties in considering alternative resolutions.


Arbitration is most commonly used in a unionized environment when a grievance cannot be resolved at other stages. Arbitration is a process involving a professional arbitrator who considers both sides of a conflict and issues a binding decision. Arbitration is a costly and lengthy process, and as such is not a good option for many ECEC organizations. A cost-benefit analysis should be conducted to determine the value of using arbitration, rather than other legal methods, to resolve conflict. At the end of the process, the parties have relinquished control to a third party and the prescribed resolution may be less than favourable. Arbitration should always be a last resort when resolution by every other possible means has reached an impasse.

The Canadian Department of Justice provides an online dispute resolution toolkit that provides an introduction to some of more common techniques of conflict management and dispute resolution.

Implementing conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is a skill based in good communication practices and an understanding of interpersonal dynamics. Therefore, successful implementation of conflict resolution policies and procedures is often contingent on providing supervisors with appropriate training and coaching on the policy, procedures and interpersonal skills.

Sample Policy: Conflict Resolution

Grievance Procedure – National Organization (PDF – 41KB)

  • Outlines the procedure for dealing with a grievance/span>
  • Outlines the procedure for submitting a grievance to arbitration

Problem Resolution – National Organization (PDF – 46KB)

  • Sets the tone for a positive work environment
  • Lists informal and formal conflict resolution and complaints procedures

Contract workers and employment status

Contract workers are often used to assist with projects or obtain specialized services as needed. Contract workers can help to meet the work needs of an organization without increasing staff numbers and incurring employment expenses such as Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, vacation pay and other employee benefits. However, there are significant legal ramifications to hiring contract workers as self-employed service providers if in reality they are employees.

Organizations should establish a clear policy on the use of contract workers, identifying when to hire a contract worker as an employee and when to hire a contract worker as a self-employed service provider. In general, a good guide is to hire a contract worker as a contract employee when the organization requires regular full- or part-time work to be done over a significant period of time; and hire a contract worker as a self-employed service provider when the organization needs advice, specialized services or irregular short-term work done.

When are contract workers employees?

The first step in determining whether or not a contract worker is an employee is reviewing the definitions of employee, employer and the employer-employee relationship:

Employee – An individual who serves an employer.

Employer – An organization or individual required to pay a salary or other remuneration for services rendered by an employee.

Employer-employee relationship – A verbal or written agreement in which an employee agrees to work on a full-time or part-time basis for an employer for a specified or indeterminate period of time, in return for salary or wages. The employer has the right to decide where, when, and how the work will be done. In this type of relationship, a contract of services exists.

Other indicators of an employer-employee relationship:
  • A contract is lengthy or the same individual is hired on several back-to-back contracts.
  • The individual is a recently laid-off or retired employee of the organization.
  • The individual is performing the same or similar work to employees on staff.
  • The individual derives all her or his work income from the one organization.
  • The individual works regular hours on the employer's premise.
  • The individual uses equipment (e.g., computer) owned by the organization in order to perform work on behalf of the organization.
  • The individual presents himself or herself as a member of the organization (e.g., has organization business cards).
Indicators of a self-employed contract worker:
  • Has a number of clients
  • Has a GST number
  • Determines own work schedule, works out of own office location
  • Acts on her or his own behalf, representing herself or himself as a separate entity from the organization (even when attending external meetings or conducting marketing or promotional activities for the organization)
  • Generates a business loss or profit based on the performance of the work completed for client organizations

These indicators provide guidance on determining the employment status of contract workers in your organization. However, it is recommended that you review employment definitions and regulations as established by the Canada Revenue Agency and your provincial Employment Standards when developing contracts (setting out the terms and conditions) for contract workers. Having a lawyer review your contracts and contract worker policy is an additional assurance that you are operating within the law.

Contract workers and legal requirements

If a contract worker is a self-employed service provider then the organization is legally bound by the terms and conditions of the signed contract. Most federal or provincial labour laws do not protect the self-employed service provider.

If a contract worker is an employee, the organization must: pay the employer premiums and deduct employee contributions for government-sponsored benefits (Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and Workers Compensation); collect income tax and other taxes; and provide benefits mandated by provincial Employment Standards. The contract worker who is deemed an employee is protected by federal and provincial labour laws and, in a unionized organization, by the collective agreement.

If the Canada Revenue Agency determines that a contract worker is/was in fact an employee, and the organization has been operating as if the contract worker is/was a self-employed service provider, the organization may be required to pay all back taxes, EI and CPP premiums (including the portion normally contributed by the employee) and any interest owed. The organization may also be fined.

If the provincial ministry of labour determines that a contract worker is/was in fact an employee, then the organization will be required to uphold all applicable labour law with respect to the contract worker, including paying all appropriate benefits in addition to the agreed upon hourly rate or salary. The organization may also be liable for termination and wrongful dismissal payments.

Terms of the contract

Organizations should establish clear terms and conditions for each contract worker, regardless of whether the contract worker is an employee or a self-employed service provider.

The terms and conditions should establish up front the employment relationships (whether the contract worker is an employee or self-employed service provider).

If the contract worker is deemed an employee, the contract should outline:
  • The job title and basic job requirements the individual is being hired to carry out
  • The beginning and end date of employment
  • The hours and location of work
  • The rate of pay and pay periods
  • Deductions that will apply (e.g., EI, CPP, income tax)
  • Benefits that will be provided
If the contract worker is deemed to be self-employed, the contract should outline:
  • The nature of the work to be completed (avoiding any implication of control over how the work will be accomplished or the hours and location of work)
  • That the relationship is not employer-employee
  • That the contract employee is responsible for all source deductions such as CPP, EI and income tax
  • The fees and payment schedule, including GST (include the individual's GST number in the contract)
  • The terms for terminating the contract (notice period for termination before completion of the contract, reasons required/not required for terminating the contract prior to completion, payment obligations when terminating before completion of the contract)

Again, it is advisable to have a lawyer review your contracts to ensure you are operating within the law and that you have protected the organization against legal action.

Sample Policy: Contract Workers & Employment Status

Sample Contract Agreement (PDF – 67KB) 

Employment Classifications – National Organization (PDF – 39KB)

Definitions of a range of different classifications are provided


The ultimate goal of policies and procedures on discipline is to improve performance and compliance with organization standards by correcting unsatisfactory behaviour. The role of management in fostering growth and understanding is an important part of creating a positive work environment and promoting positive behaviour. A policy complements this leadership and guides supervisors and managers in fair and consistent treatment.

Many organizations use progressive discipline, where repeated or more severe offences result in stronger penalties. This approach gives the employee the opportunity to recognize and change his or her behaviour.

Depending on the severity of an employee's action, management may have the right to jump straight to termination – the permanent separation of an employee from the organization. Termination is often seen as the most severe form of discipline.

Your policy should clearly introduce and outline disciplinary procedures. It should provide examples of what type of action would result in an instant dismissal. (Include a statement that this list is not exhaustive.)

The importance of consistent and objective application, clear communication and detailed documentation (date, actions taken, relation of behaviour to job) cannot be emphasized enough.

Dress Code

The appearance of your employees is a reflection of your organization and work environment. Most workplaces have a minimum standard of dress that they expect from their employees on a day-to-day basis, and have a different standard for circumstances that require work with the public. It is important that all employees are aware of dress code expectations. Developing a policy on expectations of dress code is a key way to communicate and ensure compliance amongst staff.

When drafting a dress code policy you should keep in mind the following:
  • Your dress code should remain gender neutral, and not get into specific types of clothing that would differentiate between genders.
  • When drafting your dress code policy consider different cultures in the workplace.
  • Your dress code policy should include input from employees.
  • Explain the dress code in your orientation to new hires, and if you are changing the dress code ensure that all employees are aware of the changes.

Sample Policy: Dress Code

Dress Code for teaching Staff

Employee expense policy

When employees are expected to travel for work, their expenses are often covered by the organization. The processes for how expenses are approved, the reimbursement amounts and the guidelines for claiming expenses vary from organization to organization. Having an employee expense policy assists approvers and claimants to determine reasonable and appropriate travel expenses.

The following are issues that should be considered when drafting an internal expense policy:
  • How do you expect employees to make travel arrangements? Do they book on their own and submit expenses or do you have a designated travel coordinator?
  • Who approves expenses?
  • Who sets per diem rates? How often are they reviewed?
  • What requires a receipt and what does not?

Sample Policy: Employee Expenses

Expense reimbursement policy (DOC – 479KB)

  • This is an example of an employee expense reimbursement policy for a small non-profit organization operating in Canada.

Additional Sample Policies

ECEC employers have generously offered the following sample policies.  It is up to you to adapt, modify and customize policies to suit the particular needs of your organization.

Sample policies are provided for information purposes only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of CCHRSC for any errors, omissions, or statements made. CCHRSC accepts no responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of reliance on such information.

Additional Sample Policies:

For additional policy templates, visit the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector.