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In recent employment history, workers have campaigned for their employers to embrace home working; trusting the employee to work independently and to offer an environment that promotes work life balance and improves mental health. Many flirted with the notion, some paid lip service while others went further; viewing the arrangement as a Golden Ticket to attract great hires, increase productivity and deliver colleague enablement and engagement. What’s not to like? Commute times eliminated, reduced office costs and employee flexibility to go to the gym or drop off and collect the children from school.
The last year demonstrated that, when companies are forced to change through necessity, rapid business transformation can occur; many employers and employees have shown a willingness and ability to innovate rapidly, adapting to the evolving landscape.
The coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges for business owners and managers which are testing their people management skills to the absolute limit. The demands are often two-fold as the financial and economic pressure increases for the leaders themselves, potentially placing their own jobs or livelihoods at risk. This is a highly stressful position from which to manage others, so it pays to have a great plan and think carefully about the ways and means of working closely with the employee.
A prudent business should have robust HR procedures in place; ready to deal with employee issues of conduct, capability or performance, in the interests of fairness. A structured approach is likely to get to the root of the problem and affords the employer and the employee ample opportunity to state their case. But what if the trust and confidence between employer and employee is so far gone and the relationship so sour, that applying a procedure may actually exacerbate matters; is it ever fair to dismiss an employee, without following the disciplinary process?
When is an employee deemed trained effectively in employment policies and procedures? An excellent sense check is to imagine the worst-case scenario played out in any particular area, then examining whether the training expectation is actually being fulfilled properly. Is it a fluid, progressive programme that facilitates colleagues to live, breathe and keep up to date with your values, policies or procedures or is it a mere sign-off hidden in a ring-binder on a dusty shelf in the back office?
Bestselling self-development books such as The Four-Hour Work Week (T Ferriss) and Beach Money (J Adler) aim to promote and recommend the freedom and flexibility of working time, and also make a compelling argument for breaking down geographical boundaries of where an employee should work from. The development of technology and improved internet in most locations around the world also lend weight to the debate, making the proposition even more achievable. Tim Ferriss’ book even provides a detailed suggested “exit strategy” towards remote working and exchanging results for money, rather than actual working time.
Less is more. The skilful lawyer demonstrates the ability to reduce an employment law case to its key elements, in a clear and concise manner. In the recent case of C v D , the EAT felt compelled to remind legal teams of their responsibilities when submitting a claim form and statement of case. A narrative form of pleading makes the case inherently more difficult for the judge to understand and is likely to save time and costs overall, although arguably is more difficult to draft in the first instance.
In 1943 Abraham Maslow proposed his psychological theory on the hierarchy of needs as part of his paper titled “The Theory of Human Motivation”.
Managing an employee with a drinking problem is a complex matter, requiring consideration for confidentiality, understanding and support that would normally be applied in other physical or mental health scenarios.
With Coronavirus impacting businesses and the immediate employment law challenges being faced, it could be easy to miss the introduction of an increase to the National Minimum Wage (“NMW”), taking hourly pay for people aged 25 and over to £8.72 (among other changes). An employer perceived by an HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) enforcement officer to be failing to deliver the current rate, may be served a ‘notice of underpayment’; if this is disputed by the employer, it may well end up being argued in an Employment Tribunal (“ET”).
The Manchester restaurant ‘20 Stories’ received over one thousand applications for a receptionist job within twenty-four hours of posting the role, highlighting the lack of positions available and the considerable rise in unemployment. It is likely that such a large talent pool provides opportunity for businesses to have their pick of many highly qualified candidates; however employers must be mindful to remain objective in their pursuit of the right person for the job.
Employers may take steps to monitor employees using CCTV, bag searches, drug testing or checks on websites or emails. The extent of the monitoring should be set out clearly in the employee handbook/contract of employment and should not be a surprise to the employee; the employer should also ensure that the monitoring is compliant with data protection law and unintrusive for the colleague. Inappropriate monitoring may lead to an unhappy employee, resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. A poorly thought-out bag search or drug test may be construed as discriminatory, assault or false imprisonment.