HR documents and templates
Key human resources forms, templates, letters and policies to create an HR library for your business
Human resources (HR) are an essential part of any successful business. However, small businesses can rarely justify a dedicated, full-time HR professional. As a result, they manage their personnel matters internally and often struggle to find resources when recruiting or managing people, or developing employment contracts, HR policies and procedures.
The Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook will help to make your HR efforts more effective. The Employers' Handbook outlines the legal requirements and best practice for employing and managing staff in Northern Ireland. It presents clear and comprehensive guidance on people management issues, and offers legally compliant sample documents and templates to help you develop your own customised HR library.
This guide brings together all of the model HR documents from the Employers' Handbook into one, easy-to-use resource, and allows you to quickly download, edit, customise and reuse sample HR policies, forms, letters, checklists and records documents on recruitment, selection, time off work policies and procedures, statutory leave for parents, performance management, redundancy and grievance and disciplinary.
It will also help you improve your HR practices and develop vital resources for your business, such as your staff handbook, office policies and job descriptions.
Recruitment forms and templates
Recruitment and selection of new employees should always be considered carefully by any business regardless of their size. The people you employ will form an essential part of your business strategy, and will contribute greatly to the success of your business.
Staff recruitment templates
To ensure you attract the best people, you will need to ensure that your recruitment process is fine-tuned, non-discriminatory and tailored to your business needs. For further guidance see the Employer's Handbook Section 2: Recruiting new employees (PDF, 170K) (in addition see also the impact of Brexit on the Right to Work checks (PDF, 218K)).
For an overview of the recruitment stages and general considerations, download our recruitment process flowchart (DOC, 87K).
For sample template recruitment documents to help with particular stages of the recruitment process, see below.
Templates for advertising your job vacancy
You will need to prepare a job description, a personnel specification and an application form to advertise your job vacancy. To help you do this, you can download and use our sample template recruitment documents and forms:
- sample job description template (DOC, 14K)
- sample personnel specification template (DOC, 15K)
- sample recruitment advertisement template (DOC, 16K)
- sample job application form template (DOC, 18K)
- sample monitoring questionnaire for job applicants template (DOC, 20K)
Templates for shortlisting candidates
Once you receive replies from candidates to your job vacancy advertisement, you will need to draw up a shortlist and invite those shortlisted to an interview. To help you do this, you can download and use our sample shortlisting documentation templates:
- sample shortlisting record table template (DOC, 15K)
- shortlisting guidance (DOC, 13K)
- sample letter of invitation to first interview template (DOC, 13K)
- sample rejection letter to applicant following shortlisting exercise template (DOC, 13K)
Templates for interviewing candidates
The more preparation you do for the job interview, the easier it will be for both you and the candidate. To help you prepare and carry out the interview process correctly, download and read our factsheets on interviewing, and use our sample record of interview templates:
- sample interview record document template (DOC, 14K)
- sample interview report document template (DOC, 14K)
- preparing for job interviews factsheet (DOC, 14K)
- interview practicalities and structure (DOC, 14K)
- do's and don'ts of interviewing job applicants (DOC, 15K)
- sample rejection letter to applicant following job interview template (DOC, 12K)
Read more on advertising a job and interviewing candidates.
Recruitment and selection tutorial videos
The embedded video below is an introduction to a tutorial on recruitment and selection. You can view the full Invest NI recruitment & selection tutorial.
Job offers, inductions and new starts templates
Use our sample job offer letters, induction plans and contract of employment to welcome and start a new member of your staff
The final stage of the recruitment process involves choosing the successful candidate and making them a job offer.
You will need to consider whether you wish to make a job offer that is conditional on satisfactory references and right to work checks. If your job offer is accepted, you should arrange an induction plan for your new starter and consider the terms of your contract of employment.
Specific Employers' Handbook guidance
For further guidance on job offers, inductions and employment contracts see the following sections of the Invest Northern Ireland Employer's Handbook:
- Section 2: Recruiting new employees (PDF, 170K) (in addition see also the impact of Brexit on the Right to Work checks (PDF, 218K))
- Section 3: Contracts of employment (PDF, 77K)
For sample documents to help you conclude your recruitment exercise fairly and efficiently, see relevant sections below.
The initial job offer may be made by telephone. This should help you quickly establish if the individual wants to accept the job you are offering.
If that is the case, you should follow up with a formal letter of offer, and include details of any conditions attached to the job offer, eg satisfactory references. To help you do this, you can download and use our sample job offer letter and reference check form:
- sample letter of job offer to successful candidate (DOC, 12K)
- sample reference check form (DOC, 12K)
Contract of employment
The moment a candidate unconditionally accepts your offer of a job, a contract of employment comes into existence. To help you draft a contract of employment suitable to your business needs and the role in question, download and use our sample contract of employment, as well as staff policy documents to be included in it:
- sample contract of employment (DOC, 31K)
- sample sickness/absence notification and pay procedure (DOC, 15K)
Even if you do not issue a written contract of employment, you are under a legal duty to provide most employees with a written statement of main employment particulars within two months of the start of their employment with you.
You should aim to introduce, familiarise and integrate your new employee into your business as quickly as possible. Early induction will not only provide new-starters with the information they need to settle in, but will also provide them with the knowledge and skills that will help them contribute to your business right from the start.
To help you devise your staff induction activities, download and use our sample induction plans:
Time off work policies and procedures
Download a sample working time opt-out agreement and steps to help you determine your workers leave entitlement
You should set your normal working hours in your employment contract, or written statement of employment. Unless you operate within certain sectors, you cannot force your workers to work for more than 48 hours per week on average.
Special working time rules apply for young people. Find further information on hours, rest breaks and the working week.
If your workers wish to work for longer than 48 hours per week, they can choose to opt out of the Working Time Regulations. This must be done voluntarily and in writing in order for you to comply with the law.
Remember that you can't force your workers to sign an opt-out agreement or to cancel it, though a worker can cancel it voluntarily after giving you appropriate notice.
Most workers are legally entitled to paid holidays/annual leave.
A worker's statutory paid holiday entitlement in Northern Ireland is 5.6 weeks. This amounts to 28 days for a worker working a five-day week. This can include public and bank holidays. See:
- Know how much holiday to give your staff
- Calculate your employees' holiday entitlement
- Bank and public holiday dates
The leave entitlement for part-time workers or those who are about to leave employment is calculated on a pro-rata basis. Use the following step-by-step guidance to calculate how much leave these workers may be entitled to:
- download steps for determining leave entitlement of part-time workers (DOC, 13K)
- download steps for determining leave entitlement of leavers (DOC, 13K)
For additional leave information, such us notice periods, restrictions and holiday pay, see know how much holiday to give your staff.
For further guidance see Employers' Handbook Section 4: Working hours, rest breaks and time off (PDF, 48K).
Maternity, paternity, adoption, parental and shared parental leave letters and forms
Sample letters and application forms to help you manage your workers' rights to maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave
Your responsibilities in relation to rights of working parents - or parents to be - are explained in our maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave section.
Specific Employers' Handbook guidance
Further best practice advice and practical documents to help you communicate with your workers in respect of their entitlements are included in the Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook including:
- Section 8: Maternity leave and pay (PDF, 48K)
- Section 9: Paternity leave and pay (PDF, 37K)
- Section 10: Adoption leave and pay (PDF, 48K)
- Section 11: Shared parental leave and pay (PDF,83K)
- Section 12: Parental leave and time off for dependants (PDF, 40K)
Sample employer documents
You can download, customise and use sample documents from the handbook that are relevant to maternity, paternity, adoption, parental and shared parental leave:
- model letter for employers to acknowledge notification of maternity leave (DOC, 14K)
- model letter for employers to acknowledge notification of adoption leave (DOC 14K)
- sample employee application for parental leave (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter to employee of notification of postponement of parental leave (DOC, 13K)
- sample shared parental leave (birth) policy (DOC, 39K)
- sample shared parental leave (adoption) policy (DOC, 38K)
- sample confirmation of entitlement to shared parental leave (DOC, 27K)
- sample confirmation of shared parental leave booking (DOC, 27K)
- sample shared parental leave request to discuss leave booking (DOC, 27K)
- sample shared parental leave refusal of a discontinuous leave booking (DOC, 27K)
For help with administering paternity and adoption leave, use the employers' maternity and paternity calculator.
Managing absence templates
Managing staff absence is a frequent and critical element to good people management within a business.
Absence causes difficulties both for the person who is absent and for the organisation. For small organisations in particular, where there are limited resources to cover and cope with the direct and indirect costs of an absence, it can be very disruptive.
Manage absence guidance
Further best practice advice and guidance to help your manage staff absence is included in the Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook Section 19: Managing absence (PDF, 98K).
Manage absence templates
Sample templates are included in this section on managing staff absence that you can download and adapt specifically for your business purposes including:
- return to work interview format (DOC, 13K)
- example letter to employee seeking consent for a medical report from employee's GP (DOC, 14K)
- consent form for access to medical reports (DOC, 13K)
- summary of employee rights under the Access to Personal Files and Medical Reports (NI) Order 1991 (DOC, 15K)
- request to employee's GP for medical assessment (DOC, 15K)
- sample letter to an occupational health doctor requesting opinion on fitness for work (DOC, 14K)
Performance management and staff training templates
Sample letters and application forms to help you train and develop your staff, and monitor their performance
Improving the skills of your staff can deliver real business benefits. It can increase their productivity, motivation and quality of work, and boost overall business profits and customer satisfaction. We have a number of free performance management and staff training templates that employers and HR professionals can use for their business.
Employers' Handbook: staff performance and training
Further best practice advice and practical documents to help you with staff performance, training and development are included in the Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook including:
- Section 14: Managing employee performance (PDF, 203K)
- Section 15: Training and development (PDF, 46K)
Performance management templates
Agreeing appropriate objectives and making effective use of appraisals can improve your business performance and help you assess how well your employees are working.
If you're not sure where to start setting performance targets, download our sample agreement templates for different positions within the business:
- general performance agreement template (DOC, 13K)
- sample performance agreement - for operatives (DOC, 13K)
- sample performance agreement - for administrators (DOC, 15K)
- sample performance agreement - for managers (DOC, 14K)
Performance reviews templates
Download our two sample performance review form templates to help you assess employees' performance:
- sample performance review form (DOC, 18K)
- sample performance review form past and future performance (DOC, 16K)
Dealing with poor performance
Performance improvement measures can help you manage poor performance, and deal with your staff efficiently and fairly.
To see an overview of the measures required to deal with poor performance, download our formal performance improvement procedure flowchart (DOC, 20K).
Poor performance template letters
Use our downloadable sample letters to help you follow a fair and efficient performance improvement procedure when dealing with underperforming staff:
- sample letter of notice of performance improvement meeting (DOC, 13K)
- sample letter of recorded verbal warning due to poor performance (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter of first written warning due to poor performance (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter of final written warning due to poor performance (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter of dismissal or disciplinary action due to poor performance (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter of outcome of appeal following disciplinary action due to poor performance (DOC, 14K)
Training and development templates
Creating a training strategy usually involves assessing your training needs, determining the type of training best suited to your business and evaluating its effects to maximise the benefits.
To help get you started on the way to creating a successful training strategy, you can download and use the following training and development templates:
Training needs analysis tutorial videos
The embedded video below is an introduction to a tutorial on training needs analysis. You can view the full Invest NI training needs analysis tutorial.
Grievance and disciplinary procedures and templates
Free templates to help employers and HR professionals handle any grievance, discipline or dismissal situation fairly and in keep with the law
Even in well-run businesses, it may sometimes be necessary to deal with employee's grievances or disciplinary issues, or even dismissals. Having written rules and procedures for employee grievances or disciplinary issues may help you deal with them fairly and in keeping with employment law.
Specific Employers' Handbook guidance
Further best practice advice and practical templates to help you with staff grievances, disciplinary issues and dismissals are included in the Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook including:
For sample templates to help you deal with grievance, discipline and dismissal situations, see relevant sections below.
Your grievance rules and procedures should be set out in writing and follow the good practice principles set out in the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
Download our sample letters and procedures templates to help you deal with grievances in your workplace:
- sample grievance procedure (DOC, 17K)
- sample letter of invitation to investigatory meeting - employee raising a grievance (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter of invitation to investigatory meeting - person against whom a grievance is raised (DOC, 14K)
Discipline and dismissal templates
Your disciplinary rules and procedures should be set out in writing and follow the good practice principles set out in the LRA Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
Failure to meet this requirement may result in extra compensation for the employee if they succeed in a tribunal claim.
Download our sample notices and procedures templates to help you deal with disciplinary issues in your workplace:
- sample disciplinary rules and procedures for misconduct (DOC, 29K)
- sample notice of the disciplinary meeting (DOC, 14K)
- sample notice of the recorded disciplinary warning (DOC, 14K)
- sample notice of the appeal meeting against the disciplinary warning (DOC, 14K)
- sample notice of the result of the appeal against the disciplinary warning (DOC, 14K)
- sample notice of dismissal or disciplinary action to be taken (DOC, 12K)
- sample letter to be sent by the employer after the disciplinary meeting (DOC, 15K)
- sample notice of the appeal meeting against dismissal or disciplinary action (DOC, 14K)
- sample notice of the result of the appeal against the dismissal or disciplinary action (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter to be sent by the employer, setting out the reasons for the proposed dismissal or action other than dismissal and arranging the meeting (DOC, 15K)
Redundancy letters, forms and templates
Forms and templates to help employers manage the redundancy process
A redundancy situation can arise in the following circumstances:
- the employer has ceased, or intends to cease, to carry on the business for the purposes of which the employee was so employed
- the employer has ceased, or intends to cease, to carry on the business in the place where the employee was so employed
- the requirements of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind has ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish
- the requirements of the business for the employees to carry out work of a particular kind, in the place where they were so employed, has ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish
Employers' Handbook redundancy guidance
Sample redundancy letters and documents
You can download the sample redundancy templates below to help you manage the redundancy process:
- redundancy ready reckoner table (DOC, 1MB)
- sample redundancy selection matrix template (DOC, 17K)
- sample redundancy letter for provisional selection for redundancy (DOC 14K)
- sample redundancy letter for invitation to final consultation (DOC, 14K)
- sample redundancy letter for confirmation of redundancy (DOC, 16K)
- sample letter of offer of alternative role (DOC, 14K)
- sample letter for result of appeal (DOC, 14K)
- advance notification of redundancies form template (DOC, 21K)
For further information, see redundancy, restructures and change.
Alternatives to redundancy
You may wish to consider alternatives in order to avoid redundancies. For further guidance see Section 23: Lay-off and short-time working (PDF, 33K) of the Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook.
The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) redundancy webinar provides useful information on the topic of redundancy and how to ensure the redundancy process is managed fairly and in line with employment legislation.
Other key HR policies and templates
Sample documents to help you develop employment policies that follow good practice and comply with legislation
You do not have to have a staff policy on every single aspect of your business. However, as an employer, you must legally set out details of your dismissal/disciplinary procedures in writing and, if you employ five or more people, you must have a written health and safety policy.
In instances where there may be no legal requirement, it is still good practice to set out formal written policies so that workers understand what is expected of them and what they can expect in return.
Other sample employer templates and documents
To help you develop up-to-date and compliant employer policies and procedures, you can download, customise and use our templates and sample documents:
- sample meeting action list (DOC, 13K)
- sample alcohol and drug policy (DOC, 17K)
- social media, internet and email policy and guidance checklist (DOC, 15K)
- sample social media, internet and email security policy guidelines (DOC, 24K)
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of possible employment policies.
You should also consider developing policies on issues such as working time and time off, equality and diversity, bullying and harassment, training and performance management, and others.
To find more information on other relevant policies, see set up employment policies for your business.