Human Resources Manual

All about the Human Resources Manual in the workplace, How to use a Human Resources Manual, Why is a Human Resources Manual important? and more on AfricaPay Tanzania

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What is a Human Resources Manual?

A Human Resources Manual can have various names like Employee Handbook and Employee Manual. It comprises a set of internal rules set by the employer for governing the internal conduct of employees in a work place. They tend to serve the purpose of promoting harmony in the work place.

Am I bound by the set of rules provided in the HR Manual? What is the binding nature of the HR Manual?

Once the HR Manual bas been endorsed (signed) by both parties in a work place - that is by employer and employee – it becomes binding. It should be noted that the employer is likewise bound by the said rules set therein. In the event there is a breach of any of the said rules the breaching party will be liable to suffer the consequences associated with such a breach. In event of ambiguity of the said rule, the same will be interpreted as against the party who made the rules, in this case the employer.

Can the HR Manual over-ride terms and conditions provided under the law?

The Employment and Labour Relations Act, 2004 sets minimum standards of employment. This therefore means any internal document like a HR Manual or Employment Contract can not provide lesser terms, but they can provide equal or better terms of employment. A HR Manual must not contravene the provisions of the respective law unless the said contravention tends to improve the said term provided under the law As an example: under the law an employee is entitled to 28 days of annual leave every year. So the HR Manual could not provide for 20 days, but could improve on it and provide say 32 days (or maintain the 28 days as provided under the law).

Must I involve an employee or trade union branch when preparing the HR Manual?

Since the HR Manual is an internal document belonging to the company, it is at the discretion of the employer to decide who is to be involved in the preparation of the Manual. However, the Manual must be prepared with someone who possesses the skills in labour and human resources matters. If the employer decides to involve the trade union, or a representative of employees if there is no trade union, they may chose to involve the employee from the first stage or at the final stage of review before the Manual becomes operational, so as to get all inputs. However, for easy application of the HR Manual it is advised to involve a trade union representative/ employee representative at the final stages of preparing the document before it becomes operational so as to get their input and commitment.

Can I change some terms of the Manual once the same has been signed by both parties?

Yes, the terms of the HR Manual can be altered, but since the Manual is binding to both parties, the process of changing any terms must also involve both parties. This means employees need be consulted during the exercise and give their consent to the alteration. If altering the terms is done without consulting the employees/trade union that will amount to a unilateral breach of the terms of the HR Manual and the employer will be liable for such breach.

Why should I have a HR Manual at my work place?

The law requires an employer to display the rights of an employee in a conspicuous place at a work place. If you as the employer do not have an HR Manual, you need to find a way to display employees’ rights – in this regard, the HR Manual is very useful. It is also advised to a have a HR Manual because it will help to minimise disharmonies at the workplace, as all the rules will be made clear together with penalties associated with their breach. Additionally, the law does not provide for every labour matter, it is silent in some other areas. The HR Manual can assist in filling these gaps - for example around issues of Medical Services, Out of Station Allowance, Breast Feeding Hours etc.

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