HR horror stories – First of 4
What are the most common HR horrors and how should employers deal with them?
1.Your employee’s announcement of stress at work
One of your employees has been accused of bullying at work. You’ve invite them to a disciplinary hearing but then receive a fit note signing him off work due to stress at work. Do you have to postpone the disciplinary meeting?
Not necessarily. As an employer, you have two differing priorities: the need to conclude the disciplinary process in a timely manner – especially if it is the cause of the stress at work, and an obligation to look after the welfare of your employee.
We have seen this situation countless times. Generally, you should write to the employee to see if he is willing to attend the meeting. Just because he’s signed off from work does not mean he is unfit to engage in the process. However, if he refuses, it is better to wait until the fit note expires.
Alternatively, you could consider holding the meeting in a convenient place for the employee or accept written representations instead of a meeting.
If this approach does not work, you could ask the employee to consent to a medical examination, perhaps by an occupational health specialist. This may be something you would be in the process of doing in any event. You will need consent. Also be aware that if you get a report that says that the employee is unfit, in the absence of a second opinion or other good reason, you are stuck with that outcome.
It is possible in certain circumstances to proceed with the disciplinary meeting in the employee’s absence. This can be a risky strategy as it may lead to a claim including possibly unfair/constructive dismissal. This route would only therefore apply where there is an imperative to conclude the process and specific circumstances apply. Consider first if you have exhausted all other avenues.
Horror Story 2 next time…
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I was particularly impressed by you and your team as all of you communicated your respective knowledgeable and experience in a pragmatic way, which, in my personal experience is not always the case. I have attended other legal firm’s seminars and although the content is usually good it is frequently presented using too much ‘lawyer speak’, often assuming the very worst outcome including extreme escalated litigation, which for the majority of cases is not the most likely outcome. I realise that we as HR practitioners, need to be aware of worst case scenarios but sometimes there is too much emphasis on this. “Suzanne Prince, HR Contractor
Employment Law Seminar 6th March 2014 – The two lady speakers were great. It was really helpful having questions from the floor and they both provided really helpful case studies of the recent cases they worked on. Overall to cram all that information in just two hours, it was a good event and would like to attend more!Chetna Kerai, NatCen Social Research
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They dealt with the case really well and made me feel calm in a difficult time for me.
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Very useful, thank you – more time neededHR Administrator attendee
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The update has been informative and concise with a excellent amount and choice of subjects covered. High attendance alone shows how valuable we all find these sessions. Partners are streets ahead of new laws, legislation and regulations where little to no case law exists.Yvonne Mathurin – Head of HR – Aukett Swanke Ltd – Afternoon Update 14/09/2017
I have worked with Hina Belitz on numerous complex employment issues within our business. We have an open and consultative relationship which ensures risks are addressed in a consistent manner. This has led to the honesty and openness I rely on to make key strategic decisions for the business.Di Milliard, Head of Human Resources & Recruitment Business Monitor International
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