A survey conducted by corporate policy specialists, PolicyMatter has identified an alarming lack of clarity among organisations when it comes to compliance with key legislation and industry regulations. In a survey of over 100 companies from around the world, PolicyMatter found that only 21 per cent of respondents felt they could state with authority that their organisation was ‘fully compliant’.
PolicyMatter legal expert, Nathan Millard believes that there are two main reasons why organisations would be unsure about their compliance status: “The first problem is keeping abreast of the latest legal and regulatory requirements – a lot of guidelines and corporate policies become ineffective as case law changes and new legislation is introduced. Secondly, organisations are still not taking adequate steps to ensure that they can prove employees are aware of their obligations and have ‘signed-up’ to abide by the firm’s policies.”
Indeed, the PolicyMatter survey identified that 68 per cent of organisations were unable to say for certain whether employees had seen policies or not. Overall, 50 per cent of respondents stated that their firms made no efforts to check that employees had actually read corporate policies. Encouragingly, however, 47 per cent of organisations said that, while they did not currently track policy deployment and acceptance, they would like to. Only 15 per cent of organisations claimed to already record the signing of all policies by employees.
Millard believes that those organisations that are keen to record policy acceptance may well struggle while existing deployment habits prevail. According to the PolicyMatter lawyer; “Whilst the most popular policy deployment vehicle with 33 per cent is the employee handbook, it is also arguably the least effective – as it is both difficult to keep up-to-date and nearly impossible to accurately record whether an employee has read a particular policy or not.”
Other popular policy deployment methods include hard copies (31 per cent), Intranet (18 per cent) and Email (13 per cent). While hard copy policies can be audited, they are often rendered useless by hand-written amendments made by employees and can time-consuming to manually collate.
According to Millard, the survey findings are a wake-up call that organisations need to make more effort to use policies as an effective way of ensuring compliance with key legislation and regulations: “We’ve already seen both home secretary, David Blunkett, and information commissioner, Richard Thomas, raise the issue of bringing compliance breaches to task in the near future. Now is the time for organisations to find a way of ensuring that up-to-date policies are read, understood and accepted by all employees – those firms that don’t can expect the penalties for compliance breaches to be harsh.”
A copy of the complete survey results can be downloaded from http://www.policymatter.com/press/
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