15 Important HR Policies and Forms

Ajay Ohri


HR policies, compliance, documentation, storage, and dissemination of employment documentation and information and practices demonstrate workplace adherence to local, state and federal laws. The “must-have” forms and policies are discussed below.

  1. List of policies
  2. Documents and Forms

1. List of policies

HR policies and laws mandatorily require written communication from employers with workplace information, benefits, terms of employment, company expectations, etc., to the employees. Depending on the industry, size, location etc., some key policies that the HR policies communication must include are discussed below.

  • At-will employment: This means that either the employee or employee can end the employment relationship for any legally valid reason at any time. Most employee handbooks contain this information at the very start, except in Montana, which does not recognize the at-will employment policy. The at-will is also stated for re-enforcement in the form for acknowledging receipt of the HR policies handbook.
  • Classification of employment: Industry best practices always define employment as part-time, full-time, non-exempt/ exempt etc., especially since such HR policies classification governs the eligibility criteria for overtime pay and benefits. 
  • Punctuality, attendance and employee conduct policy: Such policies for punctuality, attendance and conduct at the workplace ensures the employees start working each day at a scheduled time and mandate procedures that the employees keep the employer informed of their reasons for late arrival, unauthorized absence from work, availing of leave etc. The HR policies also need to be very clear regarding employee conduct at the workplace and the prohibition of drugs, alcohol, etc. Policies regarding interest conflicts, disciplinary action, workplace violence, confidentiality breaches etc., also need to be transparently stated.
  • Non-discrimination and anti-harassment: These HR policies and practices legally prohibit the discrimination and harassment of employees at the workplace. Local, state and federal laws typically recognize policies that reinforce laws on non-discrimination. Hence the applicable provisions and laws depending on location should be stated, implemented and accounted for.
  • Time-off and leave benefits: Various kinds of leave may be available to employees under these human resource policies. For Ex:  Holidays, sick leave, vacation leave, mandatory holidays like family leave, voting leave, domestic violence leave, time-off benefits and more. Based on the applicable local, federal and state laws, company policies on such leave/time-off benefits are best declared and included in the handbook for employees.
  • Pay and timekeeping policy: It is important to be transparent about the timekeeping policy in HR policies and procedures. The employees can learn of the accuracy of time-recorded policy and the time-keeping method used. Typically recorded time is eligible for payment. A payday policy means that employees know the payday frequency, methods used to pay on paydays, what happens when the payday is a public holiday, the policy adopted during work-absences etc.
  • Breaks and Meal periods: Federal, local and state laws specify that employee policy on breaks, duration, frequency and other applicable restrictions and rules on such breaks be declared in the company policy section of the employee-handbook. The law also includes a policy on lactation breaks, rest periods, paternity/maternity leave etc.
  • Health and safety policy: Safety and health policies dictate the timely emergency, reporting and safety procedures required to be followed when an employee suffers from work-related injuries. When any workplace has a hazardous possibility, then the Health and Occupational Safety Act and types of HR policies stipulate specific programs and policies to be in place. Ex: Presence of certain chemicals, firearms etc., are needed to be reported and mitigation of the hazard programs explained in full.

2. Documents and Forms

To be under local, federal and state laws and policies, employers have to administer employee rules and regulations and HR practices and policies while maintaining certain records in documents and forms maintained in the confidential or personnel files. Some of them are

  • Company property receipts: When employers provide the employees with tools, laptops, equipment, handbooks, and other such company property, a form from the list of HR policies are used and signed off to record receipt of such property, and this is maintained and used when such property is returned to the company. Such firms account for company property and retrieval of these properties at the time of employee separation.
  • Hiring forms: These forms help in the pre-hire process and identify the objectives of HR policies and the best-qualified candidates. The candidate evaluation form, job application, reference checks, documentation for new hires, Form I-9, W-4 and other notices must be maintained.
  • Acknowledgement of the handbook: Though this may seem to be a simple form, it is part of critical examples of HR policies, since the employee on signing this form acknowledges receipt of the handbook which specifies company policies and the employee agrees to adhere, read and comply with all such policies during the employment period. Such an acknowledgement is taken at the time of hiring. When so ever changes are made to the handbook/ policies in them/ changes alter the agreement’s conditions between employer and employee.
  • Accommodation requests: A few state, local and federal policies may require HR guidelines provision of reasonable accommodations to employees by the employer. Ex: Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, worship/ headscarf mandated by Muslim practices and beliefs, wearing turbans by Sikhs etc. Employers should document such requests, action taken, accommodations provided etc., especially when the employees are not required to put such accommodations in writing. 
  • Leave of absence: Employees must submit written requests for leave, time off etc., with an explanation for their absence from work under HR procedures. One can use the sample forms mandated by local, federal or state laws for this purpose. Ex: FMLA form for Family and Medical Leave purposes.
  • Business expenses incurred: When employees need to travel for business-related work, such expenses should always be logged into the expenses record with suitable records for reimbursement and its procedure affected in writing. Ex: Reimbursement requests and subsequent receipt for reimbursement.
  • Performance and discipline criteria: Disciplinary events and performance documentation, whether negative or positive, should be recorded suitably. Ex: Annual reviews of performance, promotions, recognition received, oral/ written warnings issued, disciplinary action, PIPs or performance improvement plans etc.


Just reviewed above are some of the best HR policies, practices and commonly used documents and policies about employer-employee relationships documentation. The written documents mandated are dictated by local, federal or state laws, company location, size, number of employees etc. One should consider business practices, applicable laws, employee well-being, and more when drafting the handbook on policies and maintaining transparency and adherence to the mandatory laws.

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