A lawyer will say, "If it's not in writing, it didn't happen." Documentation gives substance to a workplace's activities not only for legal matters, audits or disputes, but also for rules and regulations. It keeps an office running systematically and ethically. It would be difficult for employees in a training program to remember everything if it was only presented orally. During an emergency, staff might not remember the proper procedure to exit the building without documentation. Documentation provides standards to a workplace.
Many workplaces offer training to their employees for career development, new technology systems, or for health and safety or other policy training. To grasp what they have learned, employees rely on documentation for a point of reference. It would be ineffective and wasteful to spend training dollars on a trainer who lacks quick tip sheets, overviews, user guides or other training documentation, whether as hard copy or electronic.
For Standards on Procedures
Workplace policies helps employers manage staff with standards of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. They outline the repercussions if an employee does not adhere to the policies. An employee being harassed in the workplace, for example, might feel more comfortable reporting the incident knowing the workplace's position on the matter based on the workplace's anti-harassment policy. It helps an employee understand her rights.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act says that employers must provide a safe environment for employees. This includes posting Occupational Health and Safety Act documentation and industry regulations in a high traffic area accessible to staff. In addition, employers must post first aid regulations at first aid stations and emergency services and phone numbers near telephones. Posting documentation is important for employees to understand their rights and obligations to maintain a safe workplace.
In Case of Audit
From time to time, regulators may conduct a workplace audit for a snapshot of how an employer runs the business. Auditors will ask for documentation of written policies, rules and regulations, procedures, job descriptions and inspection reports which might involve environmental standards, health and safety and benefits to employees. If a company does not maintain up-to-date documentation, the auditors could report the company to be violation, which could cost the company time and money.
- Government of Alberta: Preventing Violence and Harassment at the Workplace
- Quality Digest: What Happens If You Fail Your Audit
- Cisco: Cisco Service Contract Center
- NSW Industrial Relations: Workplace Policies and Procedures
- NOLO: OSHA: Complying With Workplace Health and Safety Laws
- ACSM's Worksite Health Handbook; Nicolaas P. Pronk