Legislation vs Policy – Difference Between Legislation and Policy

A set of principles or a course of action proposed or adopted by an individual or an organization in order to achieve rational goals is known as policy. On the other hand laws and rules made by the government is known as Legislation.

Legislation vs Policy

The main difference between Legislation and Policy is that with the help of these legislation, every person is treated equally and no one is considered more or less and it is mandatory to follow the legislation. On the other hand, A long term goal is set with the help of the policies. But no one can ensure that the policies will be successful in helping the organisation in achieving its long-term goal or will it be successfully followed.

Legislation vs Policy

Legislation is actual law that should be followed and must happen. An individual or only the government cannot pass any legislation.

Legislation are mostly having different functions and purposes. Voting process is also required for legislation. The voting process helps in ensuring whether if legislation is passed or not.

A document that outlines what the government can achieve for the society as a whole and what it is going to do is termed as a Policy.

All the principles and methods that any entity or the government will be using to achieve its goal is also outlined in a policy.

Comparison Table Between Legislation and Policy

Parameters of ComparisonLegislationPolicy 
MeaningLaws and rules made by the government are known as Legislation.    A set of principles or a course of action proposed or adopted by an individual or an organization in order to achieve rational goals is known as policy.
Guidance for behaviourOnly those behaviours are guided that can surely achieve a fixed outcome.   Policies are most likely to prohibit or restrict behaviours. 
Period of changingFor a long time policies can remain unchanged.Over time various review processes can be adopted and evolved. 
Created by Only the government creates Legislation. Governments, individuals, private companies, as well as public sector organisations create policies.
Effects All the citizens are directly affected by the legislation and it has to be made known by the government.A policy is a system made of principles to guide the decisions made and to achieve the rational outcome. 

What is Legislation?

The process or act of law making is known as Legislation. Until the time an item of legislation does not become a law, it is called a “bill”.

Purposes of Legislation are :-

• To outlaw • To authorise • To grant • To sanction • To declare • To restrict

The parliament has the authority to formulate new legislation, to review it and to amend the existing legislation.

Legislation can rescind or overrule most of the other laws which also include court-made laws and the previous legislations passed by subordinate authorities thus, it is a higher form of law.

Legislation is made by the representative chosen by the people hence, it is the most democratic source of law. The three fundamental functions of the government also include legislation.

What is Policy?

Policy can also be described as a statement of intent that is used as a procedure or protocol. Policies can be created not only by the government but also by an individual, private companies or public sector organisations.

Examples of policies can be :

HR Policy, Insurance policy, The country’s foreign and domestic policy, etc.

Plans of the government on a particular subject is known as a government policy. Examples of government policy – Department of Forest Conservation, Department of Education, etc.

Policies differ from laws because behaviour or actions can be prohibited by laws and on the other hand action and behaviour can be provided guidance with the help of policies.

Some of the main features of Policy can be described as :-

  1. Describing on what to do and who should do it is an action focused by Policy.
  2. Policy is when a person or a body gets the right to make an authoritative statement and also gets the power to do so.
  3. Matters of principle is involved in Policy.

Main Differences Between Legislation and Policy

  1. Rules and laws made by the government are known as Legislation. Whereas, a set of principles made in order to achieve rational goals is called Policy. 
  2. Legislation is expected to give a fixed outcome. On the other hand, policies mostly restrict behaviours.
  3. Legislation tends to remain unchanged for a long period of time and policies can be evolved over time.
  4. Only the government has the right to create legislation. Meanwhile, policies can be created by an individual, a private company, a public organisation as well as the government.  
  5. All the citizens are directly affected by the government and the policies are made for achieving rational goals. 
Difference Between Legislation and Policy


Policies are actions adopted by an individual or an organization to achieve rational goals. It does not ensure that the policies shall be followed and they shall be helpful for that particular organization.

Policies can be easily formed by an individual or the government or any private company as it does not require voting.

Legislation is rules and laws created and implemented by the government. It is mandatory to follow the legislation. It can only be passed by the government. It requires voting.

Initially pieces of legislation are known as bills. Bills are argued upon and presented in front of a legislature before it is successfully passed as a law.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20009391
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0306624X01451006

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