A code of conduct is defined as a set of conventional principles and expectations that are considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group. This definition is what would apply to company policies and procedures as related to conduct, discipline, Grievance policies, ethics policies and so on
The purpose of company policies and procedures is therefore to set out in a structured format the norms of behaviour acceptable of employees and management of the company. Note I say “employees and Managers” and not just employees. A disciplinary code and policy for instance, is to regulate standards of conduct and incapacity of employees within a company or organisation. In addition it sets out how managers should deal with errant employees. This would then indicate that managers have an obligation to enforce the policies and procedures as set out and employees should be expected to adhere to these policies. Having policies and procedures creates certainty and consistency in the application of rules and regulations.
A code of conduct is a set of rules that become a standard for all employees under different circumstances in the workplace. Every company has its own rules that govern how employees can be expected to behave and how managers can be expected to respond to misbehaviour.
A code of conduct may be written or implied. Companies can have in their induction programmes copies of various policies and procedures that employees are expected to adhere to. In addition these become the standards to which employees automatically agree as part of the terms of employment.
The employer needs to establish that all employees are aware of the rules, the policies and the procedures as set out in such documents. In addition employees and managers must be aware of the reasonable standards of behaviour that are expected of them in the workplace.
All employees and managers must abide by and enforce the various policies and procedures that have been put in place in order for companies to comply with legislative requirements. The employees and management also need to ensure they are familiar with the requirements in terms of the various policies and standards that have been set.
This then would place the onus on management to ensure all employees are adequately trained and understand the terms and conditions of the policies that exist in the workplace. This does not mean giving employees a copy of the various policies and trusting they will read them – we all know this doesn’t happen. The employees must be put through formal training to ensure common understanding. Managements understanding of the meaning of ethics for instance must be the same as the employees understanding. In addition, the company has an obligation to ensure the rules and regulations are enforced equitably, as soon as possible after a deviation occurs.