Legislation vs Policy: Difference and Comparison

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 a policy. On the other hand laws and rules made by the government are known as Legislation.

Key Takeaways

  1. Legislation consists of laws enacted by a governing body, while policy refers to guidelines, principles, or rules adopted by an organization or government.
  2. Legislation has legal authority and is enforceable, whereas policy implementation depends on the discretion and commitment of the organization or agency.
  3. The legislative process involves drafting, debating, and voting on bills, while policy development entails research, consultation, and evaluation.

Legislation vs Policy

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Legislation vs Policy

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

Legislation mostly has different functions and purposes. A 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 society as a whole and what it is going to do is termed as a policy.

A policy also outlines all the principles and methods any entity or government uses to achieve its goal.

Comparison Table

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”.

Also Read:  Law vs Policy: Difference and Comparison

The 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, review it, and amend it.

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?

A 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 are known as government policy. Examples of government policy – Department of Forest Conservation, Department of Education, etc.

Policies differ from laws because laws can prohibit behaviour or actions; on the other hand, actions 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. The 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 are involved in policy.

Main Differences Between Legislation and Policy

  1. Rules and laws made by the government are known as Legislation. In contrast, 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, and the government.  
  5. The government directly affects all the citizens, and the policies are made to achieve rational goals. 
Legislation vs Policy – Difference Between Legislation and Policy
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20009391
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0306624X01451006
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Last Updated : 27 July, 2023

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