By: Kathleen Murray, Capstone Brokerage Cliant Advocate, December 18, 2017

The holiday season is upon us. This time of the year, the reception area of a business entrance or lobby is an area of potential unwanted guests. The constant traffic from Holiday gifts, mail, and normal office deliveries are an opportunity for an unsavory intruder to “slip through” unnoticed and enter the offices, bathrooms, storage areas and surrounding corridors, and increase the risk of theft, violence, industrial espionage, sabotage, or even terrorism.

Every organization, whether a large corporate office or a small company business, should have a visitor and guest policy. Not only can legitimate visitors distract employees from their work, which could cause an accident, either to themselves or employees, and damage to the property, visitors themselves could be exposed to dangers of which they are not aware from unwanted or unauthorized visitor access. A visitor and guest policy undeniably maintains workplace security, avoids distractions, protects the confidentiality of company operations, and maintains OSHA safety standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH). Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Visitor, Guest Policy Topics to Consider:

Part of workplace safety is ensuring the visitors coming in have a process. Some things to think about when it comes to vendors, suppliers, and contractors visiting your office. Do you require vendors and other guests to sign-in? Is there a color-coded badge? Are they escorted everywhere? Is their access limited?

Visitor/guest policies don’t have to be detailed to be effective. Consider the following points to cover in a safety policy for visitors and guests:

-Visits by non-employees:

How are Non-Employee Guidelines provided? Are the Guidelines posted in the main entrance or lobby? Are visitors and guests not allowed unless authorized by the company?

-Authorization procedures:

How do visitors obtain authorization? Who within the company has the power to authorize visitors?

-Off-limit areas:

Identify any areas that are off limits to all visitors (e.g., confidential records, equipment, computer network).

-Identification of visitors:

Must visitors sign in and out? Must they present a photo identification? What type of photo identification? Must visitors wear identification badges or passes? Must they be escorted by a Security, a supervisor or company official?

-Heightened requirements:

Are there contacts when you need to increase restrictions (e.g., after hours, while key operations or processes are in progress, during holidays and weekends, or after terrorist alerts)?

-Visits by employees during nonworking hours:

Some companies restrict regular employees’ access to the plant or office during off-hours. What procedures should be followed by an employee who has a legitimate reason to visit the premises after work hours?

-Former employees:

How are former employees treated? Are they treated just like nonemployees?

-Temporary employees: Are temporary employees treated like regular employees or like contractors?

Visits by friends and family members:

Some employers consider friends and family members “outsiders” and restrict their visits accordingly; others feel that with the supervisor’s authorization, family members should be allowed to visit on occasion to see where the employee works. What about emergency situations, when a friend or family member must see an employee immediately?

-Recording device:
May visitors bring into your building recording devices, such as cameras, camera phones, etc.?

-Supervisors’ responsibilities: Should supervisors challenge unescorted strangers who aren’t wearing the proper identification? Should they direct or escort unauthorized visitors to the front office or out of the building? Should they contact Security or escort someone in Human Resources or another department to assist in escorting the person off the premises?

What discipline is imposed for employees who violate the policy or observe violations but not report them?

Visitor Guest Policies are usually developed by HR Departments; however, in the absence of an HR department for a smaller business, a good source is the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM):

SHRM provides Workplace News and Trends for members and non-members. It is always recommended that an HR policy is reviewed by an HR Department or HR legal professional.