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Small business policies and procedures

Whether you are big or small, the law requires you to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment.

Small and family businesses may find it more difficult to put policies and procedures in place.

In a very small business where the owner has direct contact with all the staff, a written policy may not be necessary and a clear statement of your expectations of behaviours at work or a code of conduct, may suffice. Also have a procedure to deal with any complaints.

Small businesses in a particular sector may consider writing a joint policy with their industry association's help. Industry associations may also provide equal opportunity resources and training.

Either you or a senior member of staff could be the discrimination and harassment contact person. The contact person needs to know the general principles of complaint procedures and you can contact us if you need help to deal with a complaint.

We can also give you equal opportunity brochures to distribute and promote to your staff.

If a complaint is made in your business, you will need to have evidence that you have taken reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment. You can show this by doing the following:

  • tell all staff that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated
  • tell them disciplinary action will be taken
  • tell them it applies to behaviour towards other staff and customers
  • tell new staff it is a condition of employment
  • keep a note of when all staff are told
  • give them equal opportunity information brochures
  • advise them to complain to you if discrimination or harassment happens
  • follow your complaint procedure
  • advise staff of their right to complain to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

You can download sample policies and a code of conduct template below to use as a starting point. Adapt them to suit your business.

Consider having your statements translated into other languages, if appropriate for your business.

Related information

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