An Employee Internal rules and regulations manual is also often referred as a HR Policy Manual. It supplements the employment contract given that the latter is normally a very brief document.
Under the Labour Code, all companies or organizations with more than ten (10) employees are required to have an Employee Internal rules and regulations manual.
The Employee Internal rules and regulations manual contain guidelines and policies of the employer’s business and how the employer’s business is to be conducted. It is an important communication tool between the employer and employees. It lays out the employer’s expectations, and describes what the employees can expect from the employee.
It also details procedures to be undertaken upon the occurrence of certain events e.g. sickness of employee, termination of the employment contract and the like.
The manual should contain enough detail to avoid confusion, but not so much as to overwhelm. If there are some issues which are already adequately addressed in the employment contract it is not necessary to reproduce them in the same detail in the manual. Instead, offer a brief summary and refer to the other employment contract in the manual.
The actual policies or provisions in the manual vary from employer to employer, depending on the number of employees, and benefits offered but will ordinarily include provisions on; employer’s mission, recruitment, appointment, orientation, probation, training, supervision, dress code, working hours, salary, salary advances, bonuses and allowances, overtime, travel policy, equipment usage, anti-discrimination, confidentiality, performance reviews, staff representation, leave, discipline, termination, notice, sexual harassment, substance abuse, medical policy, maternity policy, health and safety at the workplace amongst other things.
As per the labour code, the internal rules and regulations ought to be written in Kinyarwanda and in at least one of the other two official languages i.e. English or French.
In order to avoid misunderstandings or misstatements which can create legal liabilities on the employer the language used in the manual should be simple and clear.
If the Internal rules are being drafted for the first time or changes are made to already existing rules, it is advisable to have them reviewed by a lawyer who is well versed with employment law or at the very least consult the labour code so that the internal rules are consistent with the labour law provisions.
As per the labour code, the internal rules and regulations become valid upon being approved by the employees’ representatives and displayed in a suitable and easily accessible place.
It is prudent to give each employee a copy upon hiring and have them sign for it on a form. This form should state that the employee received a copy of the manual, understands its provisions and agrees to abide them. A copy of this form should be given to the employee, and another kept in the employee’s file.
That way it creates a legally binding obligation upon the employee to respect the regulations and the employee can not later plead ignorance of them.
Richard Balenzi is a lawyer