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HR policies as prevention

At a conference a few years back, there was a session about steps an employer can legally take to oppose a union organizing campaign. I recall my initial reaction to the topic was once a union organizing campaign begins, “it’s too late”. I believe that most union organizing is borne of long-time employee dissatisfaction and insecurity regarding working conditions and management. While there may be some workplaces where union organization results from a political ideology, in most cases, few employees would sign up for the paying of union dues if they did not see the union as an answer to substandard or uncertain workplace policies.

Assuming the employer wishes to not engage in collective bargaining (in some cases, collective bargaining may be preferable to the employer), the time to prevent a union organizing campaign is long before the seeds of discontent are planted in the workplace, and the method is through fair, consistent and well-communicated human resources policy manual/employee handbook.

If policies provide employees with clear answers to how the employer deals with job postings, pay raises, discipline, workplace harassment, and health and safety, to name a very few, employees may feel more empowered and secure within the workplace. Employers can also create ways to increase the involvement of employees in determining policies, without giving away its authority to manage.

For employers who have unions, policies still play an important role filling the gaps and covering areas not covered by collective agreements.

If the employer shows employees that it is willing to listen and develop policies where it is non-existent or no longer meets the needs of the employees or the workplace, there would be less need for employees to look outside the organization for leadership.

Human Resources PolicyProA good start is First Reference’s Human Resources PolicyPro® which provides a discussion and sample policies and forms for numerous HR policies tailored to each Canadian jurisdiction (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba & Saskatchewan, Ontario, Atlantic and Quebec Editions).


Michele Glassford
Editor of Human Resources PolicyPro
published by First Reference Inc

Michele Glassford

President and Managing Editor at DRH and Lawyer at MacKinnon Law Associates
Michele Glassford, is a lawyer, researcher and policy analyst with a background in employment and labour law.In addition to a part-time law practice in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Michele has worked in the field of labour adjustment for the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Program and has been a Researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Michele also holds the position of President and Managing Editor at D.R. Hancocks & Associates Inc., author of the Human Resources PolicyPros. Read more

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