Below is a list of items that should be included in any basic office policy or policies:
- Patient Relations
- Sexual Harassment
- Orientation and Training
- Work Hours
- Fringe Benefits
- Equal Opportunity Statement
- Terms of At-Will Employment
- Definitions of Full Time and Part Time
- Pay Periods
- Sick Leave
- Maternity Leave
- Personal Time Off
- Staff Meetings
- Breaks and Lunchtime
- Unemployment Insurance
- Problem Resolution
- Wage and Salary Guidelines
- Retirement Plans (if any)
- Funeral Leave
- Leave of Absence
- Jury Duty
- Disciplinary Measures
- Continuing Education
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Health and Safety Rules
- Office Security
- Telephone Use
- Where to Park
- Job Performance Reviews
- Dating of Patients
- Confidentiality of Records and Information
- Cleanliness and Maintenance
- Reimbursement of Expenses
- Outside Employment
Policy is very important to establish so that the entire group understands the rules and agreements upon which the office operates. When you have good policies known and understood by all staff, you get an effective and efficient team that coordinates and cooperates at a high level.
Below are some sample policies about the subjects suggested previously. Always consult with a good employment attorney before implementing your policies to make sure that they conform with the laws of your area.
Example General Policy Introduction
Welcome to our practice. The following policies are designed to provide working guidelines for all of us. Written office policies help to:
prevent misunderstanding and lack of communication;
eliminate hasty, unrefined decisions in personnel matters;
ensure uniformity and fairness throughout the practice; and
establish the basic agreements that everyone in the office operates on.
Our practice is open to change. Changes happen as a result of internal growth, legal requirements, competitive forces or general economic conditions that affect our profession. To meet these challenges the practice reserves the right, with or without notice, to change, amend or delete any of the policies, terms, conditions and language presented in this manual. Changes in personnel policies are made after considering the mutual advantages and responsibilities of both the owner and staff. All of us need to stay aware of current policy and, as revisions are made, new pages will be given to the personnel to place in staff manuals.
Remember, your suggestions are welcome. Just notify the office manager whenever problems are encountered and wherever you think improvements can be made.
Example Harassment Policy
This practice is committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination. This policy prohibits harassment in any form, including verbal, physical, religious and sexual harassment. Any employee who believes he or she has been harassed by a co-worker, manager or agent of the practice is to immediately report any such incident to the office manager or next highest authority. We will investigate and take appropriate action.
[As harassment is a big legal issue in today’s world, we also suggest to all practice owners that a more extensive policy be written that further defines the types of harassment and the exact steps to follow should it occur. We also suggest that you check with your attorney on proper policy in this area.]
Below is a sample policy on employee classification. These classifications are important for any employer to know because they affect the type of working hours, pay, benefits and bonuses that various employees are eligible for. Some of these classifications and their accompanying benefits or restrictions can vary from state to state. Therefore, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is familiar with the employment laws in your state before implementing this type of information.
Example Employee Classification Policy
- New Employees: this category would include those employed for less than a specified number of days, during which they are on probation.
- Regular Full-Time Employees: this could include staff who work a minimum of 32 hours a week.
- Regular Part-Time Employees: this would include staff who work less than the minimum required.
- Temporary Full-Time Employees: this would cover staff who work full time but are hired for a limited specific duration.
- Temporary Part-Time Employees: this would include staff who are hired for a limited duration and work part-time.
- Exempt Employees: this covers staff who qualify under the Fair labor Standards Act as being exempt from overtime because they qualify as executive or professional employees. Make sure you know the exact rules and regulations on this before you exempt anyone from overtime.
- Non-Exempt Employees: such employees are required to be paid at least minimum wage and overtime.
Example Overtime Pay Policy
Overtime pay is paid according to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and our state’s wage, hours and labor laws.
Exempt Employees: employees exempt from the minimum wage, overtime and time card overtime provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act do not receive overtime pay.
Non-Exempt Employees: employees not exempt from minimum wage, overtime and time card provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act do receive overtime pay.
Overtime hours must be authorized by the office manager or owner in advance of extra hours worked or as soon as possible thereafter. Time not worked but paid for, such as vacation, holidays and sick leave will not rate or count for overtime calculation purposes.
Example Time Tracking Policy
Each staff member is individually responsible for recording work time on the attendance sheet and/or time card when reporting for work, leaving for lunch, returning from lunch and leaving at the end of the day.
The attendance sheet and/or time card is a legal document and must not be destroyed, defaced or removed from the premises. Never allow another employee to enter your time for you and vice versa.
Overtime must be authorized in advance of extra time worked or as soon as possible thereafter. Overtime, changes or omissions on the attendance card must be authorized by the office manager and initialed.
When you leave the premises, let us know. If you have to go out of the office or the building on personal business during your scheduled work hours, first, get permission from your supervisor. Then, check in and out on your attendance sheet or time card.
Whether you use the above examples or not, having written office policy is vital to the smooth operation of any practice. It is the foundation of education, training and correction in your office and can make the difference between a well oiled machine and a machine that is constantly having problems and is in need of repairs.