Policy Development Guide

Steps to Policy Development/Review:

1   If you or your unit have decided that a policy on a specific topic or issue needs to be created:

  • Start by reviewing existing related policies that could be revised or expanded rather than writing a new policy  You may find it helpful to consult Queen’s University-Wide Policy Library.
  • If needed, you are welcome to contact the University Secretariat to determine if there is an existing policy and whether your policy proposal is necessary.

2   Ask yourself:

  • Is there a need to manage significant risks at the university and could a policy provide help to do this? (e.g., safety, financial, reputational risks)
  • Is there a need to ensure coordination and consistency across departments or units, is the proposed policy more appropriate for just one unit, or does the issue impact more than one unit/department? If the proposed policy will only affect one unit, the process below does not need to be followed.

Ensure you discuss your intentions with your colleagues and others who may be stakeholders.

Lastly, review any relevant legislation (e.g. Ontario Human Rights Commission and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act etc.) and Queen's University’s collective agreements to ensure that the proposed policy is not in contravention of any relevant documents. Feel free to consult with members of the university community such as the University Counsel, the University Secretariat, Human Resources, and the Human Rights and Equity Offices for advice.

3   Draft the policy:

  • Use the template provided by the University Secretariat.
  • Write in clear and concise statements so that the document and what it mandates will be easily understood. 
  • Use the active voice (“shall” and “will”), rather than passive ( ”should” or “could”).

4   If applicable, write the procedures  for the policy, which are the steps individuals take to follow the policy.  Take a look at procedures associated with university-wide polices for guidance.

5   If applicable, draft guidelines for the policy. Guidelines provide instructions that explain how a  policy can be implemented in differing circumstances and provide assistance when the use of judgment is required for the application of a policy. Often they will establish a "best practice" for applying a policy and can assist in interpreting policy.  Take a look at procedures associated with previously approved university-wide policies for guidance.

6   Share your draft with key stakeholders inside and outside of your unit and consider all feedback received when making revisions. The consultation process is a critical step of policy development and must be thorough.  The importance of thorough consultation when developing a new policy, or revising an existing policy, cannot be overstated. Broad solicitation of feedback from a variety of stakeholder groups should take place in advance of bringing a policy to the Policy Advisory Subcommittee for review. As part of this step, you should work through the Equity Impact Assessment form and review as required with the Human Rights and Equity Office and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives. 

To begin:

Ask that colleagues in your own unit review your documents:

  • Are they clear and easy to understand?
  • Do they conflict with other policies you unit may have?
  • Is the issue that prompted the policy's development going to be fully or partially solved by the proposed policy statement and any associated procedures?


Expand the scope of your consultations.  Reach out to the units with which you work most closely for feedback:

  • Are there gaps in your policies you did not consider?
  • Can someone not familiar with the inner workings of your unit follow the steps in your procedure without getting confused?
  • Do you use terms that require explanation for others or short forms that should be spelled out?


Reach out to the end "users" of your policy, that is, those who will need to abide by it and/or follow its procedures:

  • Do they agree with the essence of the proposed policy?  If not, is there a way to alter it or its procedures to achieve the same end result?

Stakeholders you may not have considered:

  • Students, either as a whole, or specific groups
    • contact student governments and societies
    • use social media to ask for feedback, either social media feeds of Queen's, or those of student societies, clubs and organizations
  • Staff members who may be on the 'front lines' of your policy's implementation
    • could Human Resources or University Relations help to get the word out to these individuals about your work and need for feedback?
  • Human Rights and Equity Office and Office of Indigenous Initiatives
    • does your policy create barriers for any individuals or groups?
  • The City of Kingston
    • will the proposed policy or procedure have any impact on groups or citizens in the Kingston community?
    • Queen's Government Relations team could help you to liaise with this set of stakeholders if need be

While the feedback you receive from some of those consulted may not be relevant to the development of your policy or procedures, it is important to both engage in a sincere effort at stakeholder consultation as well as to carefully consider what you learn.  If you choose not to make changes to your drafts, those with whom you meet should have a clear idea of why their suggestions will not be reflected in the final version of the policy.  Such an understanding can make the process of post-approval policy implementation much smoother. 

If you have any questions about consultations, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of the University Secretariat at 613-533-6095.

7  If applicable, have the draft policy approved by your unit and/or Faculty/School.

8  Complete a cover sheet and forward it, along with your draft policy, procedure, and guidelines documents policies@queensu.ca with a request that the item be added to a future Policy Advisory Subcommittee agenda for review. Include your completed Equity Impact Assessment and Consultation Plan.  

The secretary of the Policy Advisory Subcommittee (PASC) will review the draft policy and accompanying documents, and contact you with a proposed date to attend a Policy Advisory Subcommittee meeting.  You, or an appropriate representative from your unit, will have the opportunity to attend the meeting to explain the policy’s development and answer questions from Subcommittee members. 

9   Once PASC has provided its approval, the policy will be posted on the University Secretariat’s website for two weeks to give members of the university community an opportunity to provide their feedback.

10   Once community feedback is considered, the policy will be submitted to the final approval body (e.g., Senior Leadership Team, University Senate, Board of Trustees, etc.).

11   When final approval is given, the policy will be added to the University-Wide Policy Library.