Why Should Your Employees Sign a Policy Acknowledgment Form?
What does it mean for your employees to acknowledge your employee policies and procedures? To comply with information security standards, it’s required that all employees have expressed acknowledgment of the policies in place within your organization, specifically through a policy acknowledgment form for things like your information security policies and employee handbook. Having policy acknowledgment forms is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to policy development and meeting information security standards.
Far from being a mere formality, policy acknowledgment forms play a critical role in policy development and ensuring compliance with information security regulations and frameworks. Key examples include:
● HIPAA: Mandates healthcare organizations to train personnel on privacy and security policies, often demonstrated through signed acknowledgment forms.
● NIST Cybersecurity Framework: Recommends fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, where signed policy acknowledgment forms can evidence an organization’s adherence.
● SOC 2: An auditing standard that emphasizes the importance of securely managing data. Compliance requires detailed policies and procedures, and having employees sign acknowledgment forms can be an essential step in demonstrating adherence.
In this article, we’ll explore what policy acknowledgement forms are, why they matter, and what they should include.
What is an Employee Policy Acknowledgment Form?
An Employee Policy Acknowledgment Form is a simple signed declaration attesting to an employee’s understanding of the company’s policies, as presented in onboarding materials, the employee handbook, or policy change announcements. Acknowledgement forms help companies to keep track of the employees who have received and understood policies, both when they are first hired and as policies evolve over time. They’re useful for policies in any area, but are particularly important where privacy, confidentiality, and information security are concerned.
Why Should You Develop a Policy Acknowledgment Form?
As your business operations and the regulatory landscape evolve, so will your policies. It’s essential employees are kept up-to-date. But communicating new policies isn’t enough; you have to make sure they’re read, understood, and accepted.
Policy acknowledgment forms are more than just a bureaucratic requirement; they are a strategic tool for bridging the gap between communication and compliance. They fulfil several useful functions, including:
● Evidence of Communication: Provides a tangible record that the employee has been informed of the new policy.
● Accountability: Ensures employees understand their responsibilities and can be held accountable for adhering to company policies.
● Legal Protection: Serves as evidence in legal or regulatory scenarios to prove the company informed employees of specific policies or procedures.
● Promotes Compliance: Emphasizes the importance of the policy, encouraging employees to comply.
● Feedback Loop: Allows employees to ask questions or seek clarifications before signing, ensuring they fully understand the policy.
● Standardized Process: Provides a consistent approach to policy dissemination and acknowledgment across an organization.
● Audit Trail: Assists in internal and external audits by providing a paper trail of policy awareness and acceptance.
During a KirkpatrickPrice audit, our auditors verify the presence of signed acknowledgment forms for all information security policies you’ve issued to your employees. These forms are a key indicator of their understanding and commitment. After all, what’s the point of a policy if your employees don’t implement the practice?
What to Include in a Standard Policy Acknowledgment Form
You know you need a policy acknowledgment form, but what should it include? We’ve put together an example to show the main areas you need to hit in a simple acknowledgment form:
- Header and Title: Clearly label the document to indicate its purpose.
- Policy Title and Version: Specify the policy being acknowledged.
- Statement of Acknowledgment: A declaration by the employee that they’ve read, understood, and will comply.
- Employee Details:
- Full name
- Employee ID or badge number (if applicable)
- Job title or role
- Date: The date the employee signs the form.
- Signature: Space for the employee’s signature.
- Reviewer/Manager Signature: In some organizations, it might be necessary for a manager or HR representative to also sign the form, confirming that the employee was provided with the policy and had an opportunity to ask questions.
Policy acknowledgments are not as complicated as you may have thought, but they are important! Developing a policy acknowledgment form that covers all the bases is a sign of an organization working diligently to create a secure environment. Make sure you’re the type of organization that focuses on implementing information security policies and procedures that help mitigate your risks and address your vulnerabilities.
Partner with KirkpatrickPrice for Your Entire Compliance Journey
If you’d like more help creating your policy acknowledgements or have questions about any of your policies or procedures, our experts would be happy to help you. Here at KirkpatrickPrice, we believe in partnering with our clients from audit readiness to final report and everything in between! Connect with one of our experts to get started today.