What HR policies and procedures should my organization have in place?

A nonprofit organization should adopt and adhere to a set of guidelines and procedures for managing employees and volunteers.  This should include a broad and encompassing equal opportunity employment policy, anti-harassment guidelines, and nondiscrimination guidelines.  Members, visit our Knowledge Center to access samples and templates. You may also contact our Ask An Expert for sample policies. 

Additionally, nonprofits should adopt and adhere to the following types of policies:

Code of Ethics

Set of guidelines which are designed to set out acceptable behaviors for an organization.  Shows a commitment to follow basic ethical guidelines in the course of conducting your work and will likely increase confidence in your organization.

Conflict of Interest Policy

Requires disclosures of relationships, nepotism, and interested-party transactions.  The policy should include a disclosure form, which should be signed annually by the board, staff and volunteers.  It should also include guidance on managing conflicts of interest and handling situations in which public and private interests intersect.

Whistleblower Policy

Specific procedures for personnel that report violations of organizational policy or applicable laws, and must ensure that those making such reports are protected from repercussions (18 USC Section 1107 – a.k.a. Sarbanes-Oxley).

Leadership Succession and Transition Policy

Mechanisms, including succession plans, to handle transitions in leadership and other key positions.

Executive and Staff Compensation Policies

The board should periodically review its overall compensation structure, using industry-based surveys of salaries and benefits which may include: medical insurance; retirement plans; sick leave; maternity/paternity leave; vacation and other paid time off; and other benefits as may be appropriate.

Document Retention and Destruction Policy

Establish both employee and volunteer records retention guidelines and procedures that are consistent with applicable laws and best industry practices.  This may be a portion of a larger, organization-wide document retention and destruction policy.

Employee Manual or Handbook

Most organizations should provide an employee handbook addressing topics such as leave time, employee benefits, and policies that are legally required.

Organizations should require that a new employee sign an Employee Acknowledgment stating that the employee has read, understood, and agrees to the employee handbook.

Some very small organizations that are either all volunteer or have only one or two employees may not need an employee handbook.

Legal Assistance for Implementing & Reviewing Policies

When developing, implementing or reviewing policies and procedures for your organization, it is important to consider attaining legal or specialized professional assistance.  If your organization can not ordinarily afford legal assistance, you may qualify to request pro bono legal assistance through our Pro Bono Legal Group.

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These articles, samples, and resources are offered for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. If used, your organization should tailor samples to best fit the organization’s specific circumstances. We encourage your organization to seek appropriate professional assistance as needed.