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HR horror stories - First of 4

03 November 2017
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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