Elliot's Handbook

Net Zero Culture Employment Handbook

Sustainability policies to include in employment handbooks so that these issues permeate all levels of the employment relationship and encourage development of a sustainable culture.

Jurisdiction: England & Wales

What this clause does

This clause sets a standard for ambitious climate action involving every employee. It covers areas areas such as commuting, expenses, training and procurement.


4. General: alignment with net zero target

4.1 [insert general details about the employer and its business.]

4.2 Our aim is to [ insert key corporate objectives] whilst achieving our Net Zero Target. 

4.3 Our Net Zero Target, which has been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, will be met by: 

(a) reducing our GHG Emissions to Net Zero or Net Negative by [2050]; 

(b) using Offsets to address any Residual Emissions that we have not been able to reduce on or before [2050 or sooner OR insert date]. [insert any details of insetting.] [You can find details of our offsetting projects at [insert details].]

4.4 We have set short or medium term interim targets between now and the Net Zero Target date, including targets for the next 5 (five) to 10 (ten) years, which can be found at [insert location]. 

4.5 We measure and publicly report annually our GHG Emissions and our progress against our GHG Emissions reduction targets at [insert details] and have our reports independently verified by [insert details].

4.6 Achieving our Net Zero Target requires each of us to consider their work-related carbon footprint and identify and create opportunities to make carbon and other environmental improvements and savings. Environmental sustainability is an important part of our business culture and DNA. Everyone has a part to play. We aim to embed achievement of our climate targets and behaviours into all of our contracts and relationships with other parties. We need your help to do this.

4.7 You will be given a sustainability induction as part of our process for new joiners. This will explain our approach and your role in achieving our Net Zero Target. We aim to build a diverse, inclusive and open environment that empowers employees to speak up, ask questions and make sustainable choices, every day.

5. Sustainability and climate governance

5.1 Our Sustainability Team consists of [insert description of roles] and its remit is [insert remit]. They can be contacted at [insert names and contact details of sustainability team or website link.]

5.2 The Sustainability Team [includes a representative of the board of directors [who has appropriate training and expertise in climate and sustainability matters]] and reports to [the Climate and Sustainability Committee of the board of directors OR a representative of the board of directors responsible for climate and sustainability.]

5.3 [The remuneration of certain [key OR senior] members of staff [and management] is linked to the achievement of [climate OR sustainability OR environmental] targets.]

5.4 [The articles of association that govern the running of the [company OR group] include consideration of [the environment OR sustainability OR [insert as appropriate] as a consideration that the directors must take account of.] [amend or delete as appropriate.]

5.5 You can contact the Sustainability Team at any time to discuss how you can contribute towards achieving our Net Zero Target or let us know if you have any ideas for new net zero or other environmental initiatives or to improve existing ones. No idea is bad or too small and your conversations will be kept confidential where required.

6. Climate risk mitigation

6.1 We want our business and people to be as resilient as possible to climate change. We have therefore [voluntarily] implemented the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (a recognised international best-practice standard) in relation to the governance, strategy, risk management and disclosure of climate risks and opportunities. This will help us to mitigate risk, adapt more easily to changing circumstances, identify business and cost-saving opportunities, attract investment and funding and promote transparency and our reputation.

6.2 As part of your role, you may be required to assist with the above reporting and analysis. If you identify risks through the course of your work that you think we should be aware of, please notify the Sustainability Team.

6.3 [You may be requested to complete our annual survey and evaluation of how our wider local and global stakeholders (including employees, clients, end customers and supply chain partners) are affected by both climate risk and the transition to a low carbon economy and how we can help to improve their resilience.]

7. Commuting policy: sustainable commuting

7.1 Reducing business travel wherever possible is an important part of our plan to achieve our Net Zero Target (please see section [10] below). We recognise that emissions associated with commuting to and from our offices could also be reduced.

7.2 We encourage you to consider both the cost and the carbon footprint of your journey to work and your chosen method of transport and offer the following incentives to help you make a sustainable commuting choice:

(a) Any employees who walk, run or cycle to their primary office can apply to the Sustainability Team for a monthly green travel allowance (which may, for example, be used to pay for trainers or bike repairs and maintenance). The amount of allowance that you will be eligible for will be determined by the Sustainability Team at their discretion. The maximum amount of the allowance is be capped at £[] per month;

(b) Any employees using public transport or a park and ride scheme to commute to their primary office can apply to the Sustainability Team for a monthly contribution towards their commuting costs. The amount of contribution that you will be eligible for will be determined by the Sustainability Team based on the distance of your commute. The maximum amount of the contribution will be [] percentage of your commuting costs and is capped at £[] per month; and

(c) [others].

7.3 [To discourage those employees living within a [number] mile radius of their primary office from travelling to work by car [(excluding electric cars)], we may impose a parking charge of £[] per day. The proceeds of the parking charge will be donated to our charity of the year [provided to our Sustainability Team’s budget].]

7.4 [To play our part in improving air quality in the communities we live and work in, you will not be permitted to park a diesel car in any of our car parks.]

8. Dress code policy: sustainable clothing allowance and uniform care

8.1 We encourage everyone to consider the environmental footprint of the clothes they wear to work [and discourage you from wearing low cost 'fast fashion' items; that is, inexpensive, low quality clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers].

8.2 Please contact the Sustainability Team to claim your clothing allowance. Purchases can be made from our approved suppliers only. You will be expected to provide copies of your receipts and will be reimbursed in the next payroll run following your purchase.

8.3 [Our uniforms are [made from organic OR recycled materials OR sourced from suppliers that have set [a target to reduce their emissions of GHGs OR a net zero target]. By carefully cleaning and caring for your uniform, you will extend its life and reduce the emissions of GHGs associated with its production

9. Energy policy

9.1 [By [date] all] OR [All] of the electricity supplied to our properties is sourced on a 100 (one hundred) percent renewable tariff.] 

9.2 We expect employees to take measures to conserve electricity and energy and thereby reduce the associated emissions of GHGs in their daily work. [Insert more workplace specific details, including link to IT policy regarding use of computers, leaving them on and so on.]

10. Expenses policy: sustainable business travel, overnight accommodation and client entertainment

10.1 Reducing business travel wherever possible is an important part of our plan to achieve our Net Zero Target. Whilst we understand that it can be important to meet clients in person to build rapport, especially at the outset of a business relationship, we encourage you to consider whether you can meet both new and existing clients ‘virtually’ as a default.

10.2 Where it is necessary to travel for business, you must consider both the cost and the emissions of GHGs associated with your journey and chosen method of transport (which may not be the easiest or most convenient form of travel available). For example, we do not expect you to take a taxi where public transport is available [Consider COVID related policies], unless it is cost effective due to a significant saving of journey time or the number of staff travelling together. When a taxi is the only viable option, electric or hybrid providers should be chosen over petrol and diesel vehicles where possible.

10.3 Subject to 10.5 below, you will be required to justify the emissions of GHGs associated with the proposed travel as part of the procedure for obtaining approval for the cost of the travel. Only business travel that has been approved will be reimbursed.  

10.4 The [insert name of team approving business travel] may refuse to approve your journey at its discretion or may impose conditions such as requiring you to travel by an alternative means (for example by train rather than domestic flight).

10.5 If it is not possible to obtain advance approval from the [insert name of team approving business travel], for example, in the case of an urgent meeting convened at short notice, you will subsequently be required to provide a justification for the business travel which is acceptable to that team and show that it was undertaken at a reasonable cost and method to claim back your expenses.

10.6 If your journey requires an overnight stay, we will reimburse your reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for it provided you have chosen an accommodation provider approved by the [insert name of team approving business travel].

10.7 As part of a business journey, you may entertain actual or prospective clients only where your proposal and an appropriate budget has been agreed in advance with your line manager. Wherever possible, you should opt to entertain at restaurants and bars which have been approved by the [insert name of team approving business travel] (for example, those who use organic or local suppliers). Our employees are expected to choose vegetarian or vegan options from menus and you will not be able to claim for your own meal should you wish to eat a meat dish.

10.8 [Every business journey you make will be recorded on our internal system. Your annual performance review may include consideration of the journeys that were made during the previous year to ensure you are not travelling unnecessarily for business and otherwise following the letter and spirit of our business travel policy.]

10.9 [We are in the process of converting our fleet of company vehicles to consist only of electric vehicles and expect to have achieved this by [insert date]. At the date this policy was last updated [●] percent of company vehicles are electric vehicles.]

11. Flexible working policy: home working to support achievement of net zero target

11.1 We are committed to providing equality of opportunity in employment and to developing working practices and policies that support work-life balance. Our Flexible Working Policy gives you an opportunity to formally request a change to your working pattern.

11.2 Line managers are encouraged to facilitate requests unless they cannot be accommodated for business or operational reasons. Advice will be sought from the Sustainability Team in each instance to ensure the environmental benefits of each flexible working are given due consideration and an appropriate weighting.

11.3 In particular, we recognise that flexible working offers an opportunity for our business to reduce our Carbon Footprint that will contribute to achieving our Net Zero Target. Accordingly, we support home working in appropriate circumstances either occasionally (to respond to specific circumstances or to complete particular tasks) and in some cases on a regular (full or part-time) basis.

11.4 Homeworking can be authorised by your line manager (having sought advice from the Sustainability Team) where, in their opinion:

(a) you have work that can be done at home;

(b) working at home is cost-effective and any increase in work that may be passed to your colleagues as a result is kept to a minimum; and

(c) working from home (either occasionally or regularly, as applicable) will significantly reduce our Carbon Footprint and the emissions of GHG associated with your commute and/or have another positive environmental impact.

11.5 If you wish to apply to work from home, you will need to be able to show that you can:

(a) work independently, motivate yourself and use your own initiative;

(b) manage your workload effectively and complete work to set deadlines;

(c) identify and resolve any new pressures created by working at home;

(d) adapt to new working practices including maintaining contact with your line manager and colleagues at work; and

(e) significantly reduce our Carbon Footprint and the emissions of GHG associated with your commute and/or or have another positive environmental impact.

11.6 [When working at home, you are responsible for operating your virtual office in a sustainable manner (for example, buying 100 (one hundred) percent renewable energy and avoiding single-use office supplies).]

11.7 In support of this, we offer each employee an annual home working allowance up to the value of £[]. Please contact the [HR Team] to claim your home working allowance. Purchases can be made from our approved suppliers only. You will be expected to provide copies of your receipts and will be reimbursed in the next payroll run following your purchase.

12. Holiday policy: additional holiday to encourage sustainable travel

12.1 To allow you to make a more sustainable choice when considering how to use your holiday entitlement:

(a) you may claim 1 (one) additional days holiday (to be added to the start or end of your trip) where you decide to travel to a [domestic] holiday destination for a holiday of more than 5 (five) working days without flying to that destination (for example, by choosing to travel by car, rail or ferry); and

(b) you may claim 2 (two) additional days’ holiday (to be added to the start or end of your trip) where you decide to travel to a [foreign] holiday destination for a holiday of more than 5 (five) working days without flying to that destination (for example, by choosing to travel by rail or ferry).

12.2 Claims for additional holiday must be approved by the [HR Team] at least 1 (one) month in advance of your holiday and you can only claim for additional holiday once in each holiday year.

13. Procurement policy: sustainable procurement, single-use plastics, waste and water conservation

13.1 Please see our [procurement policy] for details of our commitment to sustainable resourcing choices, including sourcing local, low carbon materials where possible, making sustainable food sourcing choices, requiring our suppliers to reduce their emissions of GHG, following circular economy principles and [insert details] for our policy of minimising food waste and general waste. Please see [insert] for our water conservation policy and [insert] for our policy on promoting nature and biodiversity within our operations.

13.2 Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental pollution challenges facing the world today. In response to this, we expect you to try to eliminate the use of single-use plastics in our working environment and supply chain. Single-use plastics are disposable plastics, which are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

13.3 This policy seeks to identify where use of single-use plastics is prevalent and where more sustainable replacements can be chosen. Monitoring usage of single-use plastics will help us to implement a measurable reduction plan.

13.4 Together, we make a commitment to:

(a) work with each other ensure that the use of single-use plastics is eliminated from our working environment;

(b) work with our partners to ensure that single-use plastics are not used at any events that we hold or have a role in organising;

(c) work with each other, our partners and the local business community to develop innovative projects to eliminate the use of single-use plastics across the local business community; and

(d) share best practice and information about our single-use plastic elimination initiatives with each other, our partners and the local business community.

13.5 Where the use of plastics is unavoidable, we will encourage the use of recycled plastics, where practicable and wish to support manufacturers that make products from locally sourced waste plastics.

14. Training policy: environmental and sustainability training programmes

14.1 We are committed to developing the skills of our employees and recognise that training can benefit us, our staff and the environment. Staff will receive training appropriate to their role, subject to need, and to operational and budgetary considerations.

14.2 Training needs will be identified through regular performance reviews. You will be given appropriate access to training to enable you to progress within our business.

14.3 [We encourage employees to enrol onto OR Employees [must OR are expected to attend] our internal environmental and sustainability training programmes during their usual working hours (and online as required) [regularly OR quarterly OR annually]. These training programmes will cover details of our public and contractual commitments, targets and governance in relation to climate change and sustainability, the latest climate science, climate change policy and relevant legal context, the economic, social and health benefits in reducing the workplace’s environmental impact, education regarding sustainable eating habits, lifestyle changes and how to access support to achieve them, promotion of the protection and enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystems, the importance of achieving a zero-carbon working environment and other topical climate and sustainability issues.

14.4 You may also seek approval from the Sustainability Team to enrol onto external environmental and sustainability training programmes [where you have a justifiable business need for additional knowledge]. Please discuss any ideas you may have with the Sustainability Team.

14.5 External environmental and sustainability training programmes do not need to lead to a formal qualification. The only limitation is that their purpose must be to enable you to improve the environmental performance of our business and/or better contribute towards the achievement of our Net Zero Target.

15. Whistleblowing policy: environmental whistleblowing

15.1 Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work. This may include:

(a) failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements (including environmental law);

(b) conduct that detrimentally impacts our ability to achieve our Net Zero Target;

(c) conduct which causes damage to the climate or the environment (which is not part of a reasonable working life);

(d) conduct likely to damage our reputation as an environmentally conscious business; or

(e) the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.

16. Climate leadership: climate ambassadors

16.1 We aim to demonstrate climate leadership and to enable others to transition toward net zero through engagement, information sharing, business networking, access to finance, and capacity building. [insert examples or link to fuller information.] We expect you to be an ambassador for best practice wherever you find opportunities.

16.2 You will be required to follow our Climate Engagement Policy (please see [insert location]) which includes our strategy and procedures to align all of our lobbying, trade association memberships and activities and public policy positions with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

17. [Disciplinary policy: environmental misconduct

17.1 The following are examples of matters that will normally be regarded as misconduct and will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Policy:

(a) breaches of our policies, including our Expenses Policy, Whistleblowing Policy [insert other green employment handbook clauses];

(b) failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements (including environmental law);

(c) [acting in a manner which we consider has a detrimental impact on our ability to achieve of our Net Zero Target;

(d) acting in a manner which we consider is likely to damage or has damaged our reputation as an environmentally conscious business;] or

(e) the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters. 

This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.]


Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e or CO2eq) means the standard metric measure used by [the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)] to compare the emissions from various Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) on the basis of their global warming potential over a specified timescale to express a Carbon Footprint that consists of different GHGs as a single number.

Carbon Footprint means the total annual GHG Emissions caused by the [Company].

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) means the natural and anthropogenic gases which trap thermal radiation in the earth’s atmosphere and are specified in Annex A to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) [or otherwise specified by the UNFCCC at the date of this handbook], as may be amended from time to time[, which include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3),] each expressed as a total in units of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e). 

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions means the [Company]’s emissions of GHGs from all sources, categorised as scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by the The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, Revised Edition 2015 as updated from time to time [Drafting note: Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions are defined on page 27 of the GHG Protocol].

Net Negative means that the aggregate of the [Company’s] actions to reduce its GHG Emissions and remove them from the atmosphere exceeds its unabated GHG Emissions.

Net Zero Target means both a reduction of GHG Emissions overall and a removal of GHG Emissions associated with Offsets acquired to address Residual Emissions by [insert date OR 2050 or sooner] to achieve a balance between the [Company’s] sources and sinks of GHG Emissions in a calendar year and for each subsequent year thereafter and to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.  

Offset or Offsetting means the purchase of carbon credits from a project:

(i) that has been verified in accordance with [insert name of voluntary standard] or under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) clean development mechanism (CDM) [or [successor OR equivalent] UNFCCC mechanism];

(ii) where the emissions of GHG avoided, reduced or removed by the project are additional;

(iii) that, in relation to GHG removals, employs long-lived storage methods that have a low risk of reversal over millennia;  

(iv) that prioritises the removal of GHG from the atmosphere rather than avoids or reduces third party emissions of GHG; and

(v) that takes account of a just transition and addresses wider social and ecological goals. 

Residual Emissions means GHG Emissions that are emitted after all reasonable efforts have been made by the [Company] to reduce GHG Emissions.


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