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The HR Dept blog contains weekly comments on all things HR and employment law, amusing employment tribunal stories and top tips on how to 'prevent people problems'.
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Looking forward to connecting with you.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
The truth comes out... and hurts!
Getting the facts straight at an employment tribunal is a key part of any defence if you go to the expense of time, money and effort in defending a tribunal claim. We really don’t have to go very far to find some eye-rolling employment tribunal stories that make you hold your head in your hands.
A sacked manageress of a strip club near Windsor Castle challenged the decision by her employer and brought a claim of unfair dismissal. The employer in question, Mr Lumba, argued he dismissed Ms Harris for misconduct because Ms Harris had assaulted him by striking him over the head with a diary.
When the issue of misconduct came up in tribunal, Ms Harris appealed by maintaining ‘I struck Mr Lumba AFTER he sacked me’.
Taking the lack of evidence into account, the employment tribunal found that there was no substantiated reason for the dismissal of Ms Harris and awarded her almost £25,000 based on unfair dismissal, unpaid holiday, loss of earnings and not having written terms and conditions.
Lesson: record everything in dealings with your employees and maybe use an online diary instead (!)
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
What happens when two members of your workforce don’t get on? What could be consequences of not dealing with it? Equally so, bashing heads together might not be the best answer. Left to fester, it can create a hostile and difficult working environment for everyone, whether in a small business, department or building. Therefore it is vital for employers and/or managers to know how and when to step in and sort out issues that could potentially cause a lot of harm to the business. Here is an example of a situation we recently came across and advised accordingly:
Scenario: Two of my staff members really don’t get on, and I’m finding that I’m getting caught in the middle of their antagonism towards each other. I don’t want to get rid of either of them, but I’m at the stage where I feel I have no choice as it is affecting my customers. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this situation?
Answer: Bad atmospheres and attitude can be contagious, so tackle the issue now..
Call them into a meeting and explain how their behaviour is impacting on work, their colleagues and you and that you are not going to allow this to continue. To improve the situation, hold individual meetings with them to try to understand the cause of their antagonism, and then all meet together to agree a positive way forward. Remind them that these meetings will be confidential and they must not involve other staff at all.
Meet again together and discuss the key issues. Try to get them to understand the impact of their behaviour on the other without saying who is right or wrong. Put the agreed action plan in writing to both and set a review date. Stress that breaches of this agreed code of conduct will result in a disciplinary action. The situation won’t magically improve overnight, but hopefully they can learn to respect each other, and you, within the workplace.
If the Olympics has taught us anything, it is that we build a stronger brand by being in a team with mutual respect heading in an agreed direction, therefore a delay in action could result in much deeper and painful consequences for all concerned.
For further advice, speak to The HR Dept
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
A lot has been made of recent European rulings that declare employees must have time off again if they are sick during their holiday. Naturally as employers we immediately imagine our employees with a box of tissues in hand, lying on a sun bed and pulling a sickie. The ruling came about because the law says people need a break from work for their health and wellbeing but in these days of austerity how many are actually getting a proper break? Many parents take alternate weeks off during the school holidays and end up trying to catch up on all the jobs at home; hardly the way to energise yourself for work.
Alternatively they spend an absolute fortune on a “day out” to one of the attractions, it pours with rain, the lions hide and the souvenirs bought with Granny’s money cause world war three in the back seat on the way home. It’s no wonder that the Smartphone soon comes out of the drawer where it was placed with such good intentions at the start of the break. Fear is a contributory factor to staff staying connected during evenings, weekends and holidays but this is not good for them.
So a bit of advice from The HR Dept: tell your staff to switch off and above all have some fun and laughter away from the office so they can come back refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. That is if the gardening did not do their back in!
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Have you ever seen someone in public who should have been working or wearing company uniform doing something they shouldn’t have? If you did, would you report this to their employer?
Well that is exactly what happened when a local business man snapped not one but two workers catching 40 winks when they should have been emptying Birmingham’s dustbins? The photographs were sent in to the employer, Birmingham City Council, who then took swift action to dismiss the workers.
Nowadays, it is worthwhile remembering that the world is a very small place thanks to the internet, social media, camera phones etc. Keeping the travel mugs topped up with coffee might have been a better idea than parking their boots on the dashboard and dozing off.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
We’ve warned both employers and employees on several occasions about how the misuse of social media can land you in hot water. Taking to facebook or twitter to have a moan about a colleague is unlikely to do you any favours when a colleague takes a screen print of the comments to the boss’ office.
But we wonder what an employee of fast food chain Burger King was thinking when he posted a photo on the internet of himself stepping in lettuce. The picture was captioned with ‘This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King’. As you can imagine there were some disgruntled customers that were appalled by the image! The GPS data was tracked so that the location of where the image had been taken could be pinpointed and subsequently emails and phone calls were directed to the Burger King in question.
Upon hearing the commotion, Burger King took action and dismissed three of its employees who were involved.
It goes to show the damage that can be done by clowning around at work and employees and employers take note: anything that is posted to the internet is public and can be seen by anyone, and used by anyone! Naturally, having a social media policy in place to work alongside a disciplinary policy will endeavour to combat this happening to you. Go to our website for more information: www.hrdept.co.uk
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
We have found a delightful story of Jessica, aged 5, who has been employed as the ‘official toy tester’ by toy manufacturer Tomy, a dream job for any 5 year old.
Secretly we suspect that there were a few adults who applied for this work experience role, as playing with toys all day would probably be in our top ten of any roles!
Work experience is a vital part of helping younger workers acclimatise to the realities of the working world outside of the classroom. Businesses can link up with a local school, college or university to offer work experience or internships which can be a rewarding experience for all concerned and help a younger person get the essential experience necessary for competing in the real employment market.
We’d like to hear from you! As an employer, what are the key things you look for in a potential new recruit? Leave a comment below or tweet us @thehrdept and check back soon for a feature blog post with your comments.