Policies are the rules or guidelines that organisations, governments, or institutions use to make decisions and reach their goals. They give a foundation for consistent, well-informed activities but are often non-binding and flexible. On the other hand, laws are formal, binding rules made by a legislative body or authority, like the government. Laws control how people act, tell them their rights and responsibilities, and punish them for not following the rules. Policies are more flexible when it comes to solving problems and setting goals. On the other hand, laws are more rigid and have legal consequences for breaking them. This keeps social order and justice in society.
What is Policy?
A policy is a set of rules or guidelines that an organisation, government, or institution makes in order to influence decisions, reach certain goals, and give people a way to act consistently. Policies explain how the organisation or society will deal with different problems, streamline operations, and tell people or groups how to act.
Policies can be formal or informal, written or unwritten, and tailored to suit a specific context’s needs. They often explain why someone takes a particular position, what they want to happen, and how they plan to get there. Policies can encompass a wide range of areas, such as human resources, finance, education, healthcare, and environmental management.
While policies are not legally binding, they provide a foundation for informed decision-making and help create a coherent and transparent approach to problem-solving. By establishing a consistent direction, policies enable organisations or governments to prioritise resources, maintain stability, and ensure the effective functioning of various systems. In summary, policies are essential tools that guide decision-making, set priorities, and outline the strategies needed to achieve desired outcomes.
What is Law?
Law is a set of formal, binding rules and regulations made by a legislative body or authority, like the government or a governing institution. Laws exist to regulate behaviour, establish rights and obligations, keep social order, and ensure that justice is served within a society. They are based on society’s shared values and norms, and there are legal consequences for not following them.
Laws can be categorised into different types, such as criminal law, which governs crimes and their punishment; civil law, which deals with disputes between individuals or organisations; and administrative law, which covers government agencies’ functioning and interactions with citizens.
Laws are usually made by writing them down, discussing them, and getting approval from the right legislative body. Once laws are made, they must be enforced by authorities like the police or government agencies. The judiciary system, consisting of courts and judges, interprets and implements the law in specific circumstances, ensuring it is implemented fairly and consistently.
In a nutshell, the laws of a society are the formal rules that dictate the behaviour of individuals, organisations, and the government itself. They set up a framework for social order, justice, and the protection of rights, and there are legal consequences for breaking them.
Difference Between Policy and Law
Legislative bodies, such as governments, make laws as formal, binding regulations to regulate behaviour, keep social order, and ensure justice. Infractions are punishable by law and are enforced by special bodies. On the other hand, policies are rules or regulations established by organisations, governments, or institutions to guide decision-making and facilitate the attainment of predetermined objectives. They lay the groundwork for consistent behaviour while being flexible and non-binding. While laws regulate behaviour with legal consequences, policies offer a flexible approach to problem-solving and goal-setting, guiding actions within organisations or broader society. The key distinctions between policy and law are as follows:
Binding vs Non-binding
Compared to rigid laws that must be followed under penalty of law, policies are more flexible and are meant to serve as general guidelines.
Legislative Body vs Organisations
Governments, institutions, and organisations can adopt policies, but only legislative bodies can enact laws.
Legal Consequences vs Recommendations
Policies offer guidance on making decisions and accomplishing goals, while laws impose punishments for breaking them.
Policies rely on voluntary compliance and organisational oversight, while government agencies enforce laws.
While the judicial system is responsible for interpreting and applying laws, the entity that creates a policy is responsible for doing so.
Whereas laws apply to everyone within a given territory, policies are usually limited to a single organisation or industry.
Rigidity vs Adaptability
While laws are generally cast in stone and difficult to alter, policies can be modified to reflect new information and circumstances.
Legal vs Strategic Focus
Policy is concerned with long-term planning and problem-solving, while law is concerned with regulating behaviour and keeping social order.
In most countries, laws are written down in a formal legal code, while policies may or may not be documented.
Rights and Responsibilities
While laws define and protect people’s and organisations’ legal rights and responsibilities, policies outline how those rights and obligations are to be exercised and made.