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Blog  »  April 2017  »  Staff handbooks are not just for large organisations - Blog
Apr 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Staff handbooks are not just for large organisations

Many small businesses that may only employ a small number of employees, often believe that they are exempt from having employee policies and procedures. This is not the case, policies and procedures are essential for not only setting clear boundaries in the employment relationship but also in protecting your business if a claim was ever brought against you to the Workplace Relations Commission or Labour Court.

A recent case study

A recent case was brought to the courts when an employee of a small, family run shoe and leather goods shop, claimed she had been harassed and sexually harassed by another concession stand holder. The employee alleged that her employer had failed to take the appropriate steps to prevent the harassment and then failed to investigate the allegations appropriately.


The employer claimed that, as a small employer, it was not necessary for them to have any anti-harassment policies in place. The court found that the Acts require employers, regardless of size, to take reasonable steps to ensure employees are protected. The court emphasised that employers must have effective measures in place to ensure sexual harassment does not occur and if it does occur that there are adequate procedures available to deal with the problem and prevent re-occurrence.

Although the court noted that the employer took appropriate action when dealing with the situation when it observed such behavior, it had failed to take appropriate measures to prevent such occurrences. The employee was rewarded €5,000 for distress and the effects of sexual harassment constituting discrimination.

Learning Points

No matter how small your workforce, be sure to protect your business with solid employee handbooks clearly outlining policies and procedures.

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