Disciplinary & Grievance, HR Support, Employment Law

Butchers ‘meal deal’ Award of £6,091.

Disciplinary & Grievance, HR Support, Employment LawThis is a case, which was recently at an Employment Tribunal (ET) & brought by a former employee for failure to follow the Acas Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures. It highlights the importance of ensuring that when managing employees you follow the correct / legal procedures or the repercussions can be financially damaging.

This case also highlights how the incorrect use of Social Media by an employee can result in the loss of their job but if not handled correctly by their employer has the opposite effect to what should have happened and end up costing the employer rather than the employee.

Michael Hayward had worked for Noel Chadwick in Standish as small and well-respected butchers in Wigan, for seven and a half years before he was dismissed for recommending a discount from online retailer Fresh Meat Packs North West to his then-girlfriend on Facebook.

Hayward was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct and breach of contract by father and son directors John and Paul Chadwick for ‘advertising’ what they believed to be a competitor and breaching the company’s social media policy. The tribunal heard the pair, whose business did not have a formal HR function, had already decided to dismiss Hayward before they brought him into a disciplinary meeting in April 2016.

The 37-year-old said he was not issued a written or verbal formal warning, despite requesting one, nor was he given the opportunity to have someone with him at the meeting or given an explanation regarding his actions. As no appeal was arranged within a few weeks of his sacking, Hayward eventually lost confidence in Noel Chadwick and did not follow up the matter.

The tribunal also heard that Hayward had been ‘pulled up’ on his use of social media before he posted the offer, but there was no warning given to him that suggested such behaviour could lead to his dismissal.

Allowing Hayward’s unfair dismissal claim, Judge Keith Robinson called Noel Chadwick “fanciful” for suggesting it experienced any financial or reputational loss because of the Facebook post.

“Hayward’s misdemeanour, if one can call it that, was minor,” the judge continued. “This is not an advertisement; this [matter] was a wholly mishandled dismissal root and branch. The claimant was dismissed summarily in a process that was reprehensible.”

The judge awarded Hayward a £6,091 payout – £4,891 in lost wages and compensation, and £1,200 to reimburse his tribunal fees.

Matthew Pinto-Chilcott – Managing Director of Consensus HR states “This is an area that we are continually ensuring is adhered to in relation to the Acas Code of Practice On Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures when our clients are dealing with disciplinary issues in the workplace. The law is there to protect the individual as well as the company and by managing your team in the best way, your business benefits & your team become more productive & loyal and avoid unwanted claims being made to an ET.

Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures are just one of the many that employers should have within their business as well as a Contract of Employment, which an employee is entitled to within the first two months of employment. All members of the management team should have the relevant development to ensure all areas are covered correctly & reasonably.”

Chadwick added: “We would like to take this opportunity to urge other small-to-medium businesses to ensure that their HR team is doing their job properly and, if they do not have an HR team, to enlist the services of a professional HR consultancy for the protection of both employer and employee.”

If we can help your business in anyway and ensure you are not taken to an Employment Tribunal for not following the law & not having the correct Policies & Procedures in place, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01462 621243 or alternatively by completing our ‘Contact Form’

Consensus HR – “Helping Companies with their People Solutions”

A Hidden Cost!

Recruitment within businesses can sometimes entail a hidden cost that business owners do not take into account such as the additional burden for the team to develop the new member in the role and systems of the business and is why the following survey information did not surprise us.

Around one in five employees (22 per cent) have left a job during or at the end of their probationary period, a survey seen exclusively by People Management has found.

The role ‘not being as expected’ was the most common reason given for quitting, cited by 43 per cent of respondents. This was followed by having found a better role (23 per cent), not liking the company’s culture (13 per cent) and not liking the boss (8 per cent).

Matthew from Consensus HR comments “Many business owners do not realise the overall cost of recruitment and the fact that they are paying for a considerable time for a new employee not just in the initial costs such as advertising & interviewing but also when the new member joins and the time being spent with them by their team. Business owners need to ensure that they invest in a new starter correctly so as to ensure they are motivated and happy in their new role / company.”

Recent recruitment figures obtained from the Cipd shows that on average businesses spend £5,433 on logistical costs, with the following factors contributing: Hiring temporary workers before the replacement HR Support, HR Advice, Legal, Employment Lawstarts: £3,618. Management time spent interviewing candidates: £767. Recruitment agency fees.

Matthew also comments “In the past we developed a comprehensive 3 monthly induction / performance review process for new employees to ensure they are developed adequately in their new role and given the opportunity on a regular basis initially to discuss their performance & identify any areas that need to be addressed during their probationary period. We have found this to be very beneficial to the businesses and a reduction in turnover and also assisted one of our clients in a racial & discrimination case where awards are unlimited and ability for an employee to bring a claim from day one of employment prevented / managed. This also makes them feel valued & not just a number as their induction is written specifically for them but is also down to them to tell the employer in a constructive recordable manner what support / development they require to be successful in the role.”

The study, by CV-Library, also revealed that 12 per cent of people had been dismissed during a probation period, although almost half (44 per cent) of them agreed it was the right decision.

When asked why they were dismissed, the top reasons were poor performance (27 per cent), the company being unable to keep them on (22 per cent) or being the wrong fit for the company’s culture (20 per cent).

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, said HR teams should take responsibility for running on-boarding processes and making sure new starters settle in well. “Induction sessions are the perfect opportunity to take new starters through what makes the company unique and a great place to work,” he added.

The vast majority (86 per cent) of respondents to the CV-Library survey believed probation periods are a good idea, with 49 per cent saying they allow companies to ‘test the waters’ with the new employee, though the concept of a probation period has no legal basis. Just over half (56 per cent) thought that both employers and employees benefit equally from probationary periods.

As for those who do not believe probation periods are a good idea, a little under half (49 per cent) believe the time period is not long enough to monitor an employee’s contribution to the business and 39 per cent said it can be upsetting to an employee if they fail to pass their probation.

Our Recruitment page discusses how we can help businesses and can be reached by clicking here.

For further information and to discuss your recruitment or how you currently carry out productive inductions please contact us using our contact form or alternatively by telephone on 01462 621243

 

Consensus HR – “Helping Companies with their People Solutions”

 

 

 

Compassionate Leave in the workplace.

One of the many questions we get asked in relation to compassionate leave in the workplace by our clients is what is the law in relation to ‘bereavement / compassionate leave’ and what should they provide to a member of the team when informed and is the topic of our current blog.

Firstly you should ask yourself what is your company policy (if you have one) and what has been the Precedent in the past when people have told the company of a recent death or the need for compassionate leave?

The next question should be: Does it affect a close relative or dependant? If yes then an employee is entitled as a minimum to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work without notice to deal with emergencies affecting their dependents under the Employment Rights Act.

‘reasonable’ can vary depending on the situation and can be anything from one day to attend a funeral to up to a week to plan an event for close family members.

Kim Pattullo – a partner in the employment team at Addleshaw Goddard comments further:

While this can help an employee to focus on arrangements and the funeral itself, it is often once the funeral has taken place that they require additional support. Shock or the sheer exhaustion of dealing with a protracted illness can have a severe impact. While some people will appreciate the structure and distraction of work, many others suffer from anxiety and depression following bereavement.

With more staff staying in the workplace for much longer than previous generations, this is a situation that managers will encounter increasingly often. The question is: what more can employers do to assist at such a difficult time?

For employees who suffer from mental health illnesses such as depression, it is important to have a line of communication between them and the their line manager. Where possible, an early referral to the business’s occupational health provider is crucial, both as a pathway to accessing other medical assistance and in securing the best chance of the employee successfully returning to work in the future. The objective should be to have a referral and appointment within four weeks of the diagnosis of depression. This is an extremely delicate conversation to have with someone so recently bereaved.

For an employee who wishes to have the distraction of work, there can be issues with performance, which can dip substantially on their return. At this point, managers have a key role to play in discussing the support the employee wishes to have. A return to work discussion about workload levels and weekly catch ups are recommended, and it’s important to keep a watchful eye on the team member. You also need to consider whether the employee has a mental health condition that would qualify as a disability. If so, there will be a requirement to make reasonable adjustments and not to take action that would discriminate against the person’s disability.

Financial matters can add greatly to the stress and anxiety experienced by a bereaved employee. The loss of a loved one who was the main breadwinner can have a devastating impact on them and their family, especially if there was not time to put financial affairs in order. Only by talking to them will this come to light. Some employers may be able to help with zero-interest loans or by directing the employee to additional sources of support and advice.

Managers and HR professionals are the key to dealing with staff struggling with bereavement. They can provide support and pass on vital information to the employee, including the fact that employee assistance programmes are much more than just telephone helplines. It will be for the manager or HR to tease out whether the employee has financial worries caused by their change in circumstances. However, employers must ask themselves this: have managers and HR professionals been trained to engage in these sensitive discussions with confidence?

Matthew from Consensus HR comments “In these difficult times it is vital that employers have a clear policy that is easy to follow and states what the procedure is for all members of the team so as to ensure in difficult situations that the appropriate action is taken and no further stress put on the individual or the business. Clear guidelines ensures that all members of the team are treated the same and managed accordingly. I always suggest that a clear documentation trail is also kept with payroll as unfortunately from past experience it has been known for a number of grandparents to pass way!”

If you wish to discuss your current policies / procedures in relation to compassionate leave or any other area of your companies HR Policies & Procedures give us a call (01462 621243) or fill in the ‘Contact Form’ and we will contact you asap.

 

 

Mental Health: The HR Perspective

mental healthMental health has been catapulted into the headlines recently, thanks to Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 14 May) and royal revelations from Prince Harry about seeking counselling and his support of the charity Heads Together.

There is increased awareness and openness about mental health. How should employers recruit, support and/or manage employees who are affected?

 

Recruitment

An Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the Government Legal Service’s (GLS) mandatory test (used during recruitment of lawyers) was guilty of indirect discrimination. The claimant has Asperger’s Syndrome. Her psychiatrist had made previous recommendations (in relation to her university courses) that a multiple choice format test would not be appropriate for her. As the GLS test was not available in different formats, the claimant was severely disadvantaged during the recruitment process.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal acknowledged that the GLS needed to test the core competency of ability of its candidates to make effective decisions. However, it found that a psychometric test was not the only way to achieve this.

“It is valid for employers to assess the essential skills required within a job role, “explains Matthew Pinto-Chilcott of Consensus HR. “However, the test method should adapt to the needs of individuals.”

Support

Supporting mental health in the workplace can be challenging and the issues around it are complex. Therefore, it is important that employers are aware of their legal obligations and the issues that arise. Three key issues are involved:

  • Health and safety
  • Disability discrimination
  • Personal injury claims

Employers can manage mental health issues via two key approaches: having policies and procedure in place to deal with mental health issues, and supporting employees via training (for managers especially), return to work interviews and on-going support in the workplace and during periods of absence.

“Professional advice can ensure that policies support both the organisations and its people,” says Matthew from Consensus HR. “With growing awareness and openness about mental health issues, this step is increasingly important.”

Management

Clear, honest communication between employers and employees should determine the nature of support required and the best way to provide that help. However this path relies upon individuals being open about their mental illness. Often, people are concerned about revealing their illness to their employers, leading to deliberate concealment.

Concealment is potentially a problem right from the start as people are not obliged to disclose any health issues during the recruitment process. However Employment Law Consultant Kevin J Murphy explains that if there is a contractual requirement upon an employee to disclose medical conditions which may affect their ability to do their job and the employee has concealed it, there is action you can take.

He explains: “A deliberate concealment can mean that the contract is void if there was a requirement to disclose detailed within it. Further, an employer could rely on the employee’s dishonesty as a reason for dismissal, but might need evidence of their decision to hide their illness.”

“Any dismissal on either of these grounds should still follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures to assist the employer to evidence that the dismissal is not based on the employee having a disability – but their dishonesty.”

Matthew from Consensus HR adds: “By thinking through the functions involved with specific job roles and adding clauses to the contract of employment, employers can achieve protection for their organisations whilst supporting the individuals involved. It’s important to get the HR basics right.”

Mental health issues within the workplace is a complex subject and one that is very important to both businesses and people. Further details are available within our article: Employees with Mental Health Issues Face a Lack of Support and Discrimination.

mental healthIf you would like to find out more and discuss your organisation’s circumstances, contact Matthew on 01462 621243 or email info@consensushr.com for an informal, no-obligation discussion.