Policy & Procedure in the Canadian Transport Industry

Every day, businesses face a multitude of risk and liability issues, and few industry sectors are more vulnerable to political and procedural pitfalls than the Canadian transport industry.

The chief missive of company policy and procedure codification entails the coherent establishment and presentation of individual and collective responsibilities and rules of conduct within an organization.  Research consistently proves a distinct correlation of adherence to clear corporate and institutional process codes to both operational safety and monetary prosperity.

Canada’s trucking industry employs over 400,000 Canadians, and about three quarters of them are commercial drivers, employed either as employees by trucking firms, or as independent sub-contractors who own vehicles and lease services to carriers.  Since drivers can work locally or haul over long distances, the terms and expectations of employment can vary greatly from driver to driver within the same organization, making policy & procedure edicts crucial to corporate success.

The ‘Best Practice’ principles inherent to formal Policy & Procedure systems not only  serve the best interest of employers, but also to the protect the rights and freedoms of employees.  They define acceptable conduct, compliancy, attendance, dress code, privacy and many other areas related to the terms and conditions of employment.  In other words, they provide a framework for appropriate behavior and expectations of everyone.

The maintenance of extensive Policy & Procedures manuals is both time and labour intensive, but expert consultation from industry partners like Cutler TCMS can make the process much easier.  The National Safety Code (NSC) of standards is a national and provincial guideline, regarding legislation that governs and regulates commercial carriers.  A compilation of provincial and federal legislation, it directs carrier operations across Canada and differs between provinces.  Carriers must comply with NSC mandates.

In addition to the umbrella of the NSC, most experts agree that companies should develop five other broad areas of Policy & Procedure that include:  Device Usage Policy, Disciplinary Policy, Work Hours & Conduct Terms Policy, Late Payment/Return/Refund Policy, and Workplace Safety & Compliance Policy.  These general areas entail a great deal of information and should be contained in an organized fashion in the form of a Policy & Procedures/Human Resources book or binder, with easily-accessible digital and hard copy.  Carriers should become fluent in these sub-categories:


Device Usage Policies:


Modern work environments are being ravaged by the Internet and social media, in terms of lost employee productivity through on-site, company-owned equipment, as well as personal mobile gadgetry.  Internet surfing and personal e-mailing not only shrink bottom-line profitability, but create potential liability, as carriers are often responsible for the physical and virtual actions of staffers.  If an employee conducts illegal activities on your clock and/or system, for example, you could be held accountable.  Businesses should protect themselves against such liability through clear and documented Usage policy and procedural guidelines.  Many companies forbid the use of social media at work and block access to such sites.


Disciplinary Policies:


This section details all things disciplinary, up to and including dismissal.  Occasionally carriers have to terminate employment.  Prior to these unsavoury occasions, employees should be cautioned about process—they should receive formal warnings, where applicable, and where work performance is an issue, infraction should be clearly outlined chronologically, from initial job descriptions to termination, in a Policy & Procedures manual that’s been signed off on by all employees.  Employers are strongly advised to date and document all history of non-compliance or incompetence in detailed, written evaluations, and to present these concerns and facts prior to dismissal.


Late Payment/Return/Refund Policies:


This area pertains specifically to consumer, customer and partner payment policy and includes things such as pricing, point-of-payment processing details, invoicing, exchanges, refunds, changes to rates, and any extra charges or penalties incurred due to broken rules.  It’s crucial to clearly detail all stipulations in this section, as ‘grey’ areas can cause confusion, conflict, and perhaps even lost clientele and broken relationships.


Work Hours and Conduct Terms:


This chapter outlines various literal and linear terms of employment, such as days and hours of work, duration of washroom and meal breaks, pay rates, statutory holiday bonuses, paid time off, and sick, bereavement and personal time allocations off.  It also contains valuable information about expected conduct and can delve into safety and compliance issues.  Most carriers find this section to be straightforward and easy to generate, in terms of factual employment terms, but often report conduct stipulations as more difficult, in terms of tangibility, especially where issues such as workplace harassment are concerned.   


Workplace Health & Safety Policies:


This section communicates smoking rules, substance abuse issues and emergency protocol, and also explores conduct and compliance more closely than the others.  Whether a trucking business operates solely on the road or as a hybrid that entails factory or office settings, it faces risk and therefore must have policy and procedural standards in order to be successful.  Workplace health, safety and compliance policies mitigate potential damages caused by negligence or malevolence, and Cutler TCMS specializes in a wide variety of solutions to problems faced by carriers throughout the country.

Progressive Canadian carriers are increasingly implementing Policy & Procedure handbooks that are essentially effective delivery provisions of information each staff and management member should review, sign and receive copy of.  Policy & Procedure manuals don’t necessarily provide automatic solutions to every employment situation or question, but they’re extremely effective agents for communication, de-escalation and conflict resolution.  While they aren’t ‘legally-binding’ contracts and don’t guarantee successful compliance or remediation to all parties, they indeed serve as fundamental guidelines that foster professional relationships between employees and management through cooperation and mutual understanding.  Companies reserve the right to change, revise, or eliminate policies and procedures at their discretion, and without vote at any time, in order to retain flexibility and promote their corporate vision.  Documented Policy & Procedure booklets support the backbone of business, and Cutler TCMS specializes in assisting Canadian carriers in their noble task to provide safe, prosperous work environments.  


Deana Waples

Staff Writer, Cutler TCMS


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