Follow our blog to find out the latest happenings at Metis HR
Can you outsource workplace investigations?
The short answer is yes but many employers worry that a tribunal would frown on a decision to bring in an external workplace investigator.
Workplace investigations can take place for any number of reasons, grievances raised, disciplinary matters, bullying and harassment claims but tribunals have most to say on disciplinary investigations.
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that "employers should carry out any necessary investigations to establish the facts of the case" . That doesn't necessarily mean that an employer has to do the investigation themselves.
Whoever carries out a workplace investigation
- must have no involvement whatsoever in any subsequent hearing or appeal
- is not likely to be called to give evidence should the matter proceed to a hearing
- should have no awkward history with the employee who is the subject of the investigation
If an employer doesn't have enough impartial managers for all three stages of a disciplinary,
- the workplace investigation,
- the hearing and
- the appeal
or they lack the experience to carry out "reasonable, fair and impartial" investigations it is reasonable to outsource the workplace investigation to someone who is experienced at conducting workplace investigations. An employment tribunal will take individual circumstances into account when considering an employer's decision.
A word of warning though, never let an external workplace investigator decide on a disciplinary sanction, that responsibility must remain with the employer.
Do you need help with a workplace investigation? Call Metis HR now on 0844 249 1133 or check out our specialist workplace investigation service at www.investighr.co.ukTags: inpendent workplace investigations, HR investigation, workplace investigations, workplace investigators, conducting workplace investigations
If the grievance is related to the disciplinary process, deal with the matter as part of the disciplinary proceedings, for example, if the employee is complaining about how you are is handling the disciplinary procedure or the grievance may amount to a defence against the disciplinary allegations. Let the employee set out the grounds for his or her grievance at a meeting during the disciplinary process, and investigate and address the grievance concurrently with the disciplinary issue. You can always continue grievance proceedings after the disciplinary procedure has finished if issues remain outstanding.
If the grievance is not related to the disciplinary, consider dealing with the matter separately. There’s no need for you to postpone the disciplinary procedure, unless the substance of the employee’s grievance is so serious and credible as to make it unreasonable to continue with the disciplinary process.
Employers should keep in mind the principles of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures which is that disciplinary and grievance matters should be dealt with promptly and without unreasonable delay.
Do you need help with a Grievance Investigation? Call Metis HR now on 0844 249 1133Tags: independent investigator, disciplinary process, disciplinary investigations, disciplinary investigation, chairing a disciplinary hearing, managing grievances, how you deal with a grievance
The news that a serving police officer from the Metropolitan police has resigned for allegedly inappropriate tweeting about the death of Margaret Thatcher is baffling. What will it take for employees to learn to think before they send 140 characters hurtling into the ether like a boomerang to come back and destroy their careers?
Even more staggering is that their own figures show that 38 claims have now been substantiated against Met officers over their use of social media.
It just goes to show that an employer’s need for a Social Media policy is not disappearing any time soon!
If you need an off the shelf Social Media policy call Metis HR now on 0844 249 1133.Tags: social media poloicy for employees, advice for employers on social media policies, inappropriate use of twitter, tweets, employee social media policy, social media policy, social media
You don’t have to give an employee a reference unless
- The employee’s contract of employment states that they are entitled to one, or
- You risk victimising the employee by not giving them a reference
That said it is rare to refuse to give an employee a reference because it can imply that you’ve had problems with the employee which could give rise to them claiming that you are discriminating against them in some way. If you don’t want to give an employee a reference I’d advise you to have a policy that states that the company will not provide a reference for any employee.
If you are giving an employee a reference you do not have to give lots of information, in fact, it’s worth thinking about only giving a bare minimum of information given the potential for come back; confirming the period of employment and job title whilst working for you. Include at the end a statement that it’s company policy to give a standard reference to prevent the new employer reading anything into the brevity of the information that you’ve given.
How do you respond to the pro forma reference request that is asking you lots of specific questions?
You have two options
- Ignore the pro forma questions and provide a standard reference (see above), or
- Answer the questions asked but;
- if you choose not to answer any of the questions you need to say why you are not answering
- don't disclose information that may see you breaching the Data Protection legislation e.g. sickness absence details, without seeking the permission of your employee
Providing a reference on someone who has been dismissed?
Take care. Consider just giving a standard reference without referring to the dismissal. If you are going to mention it make sure that the reasons you give tally with those used to actually dismiss the employee.
Things to remember ….
- any reference that you give on headed paper or vi company e-mail will be treated as a business reference if there is a dispute
- you have an obligation to take care in providing any reference, it should be true, accurate and fair
- your ex-employee may obtain a copy of it, so make sure it’s accurate and sticks to facts not opinion
- don’t make comment on any alleged misconduct where there’s been no proper investigation and outcome
mark the reference private and confidential
- you can give a bad reference provided it is factual and cannot be seen as malicious and that you took care to make sure that the information is true
- create a policy on references and stick to it, be consistent in the way that you deal with references
- in your policy on references be explicit about which people in the organisation are authorised to give an employee a reference on behalf of your company
Need professional HR advice that answers the questions you ask? Call Metis HR now on 0844 249 1133 to find out about our business support packages
I was recently asked by a client "What makes you so good at employee investigations?". It set me to thinking. Why do I enjoy doing employee investigations and why is it that I get such good feedback from clients and lawyers alike about my employee investigations?
The process of "seeking and finding" by itself, that feeling of solving a puzzle, gives me a feeling of satisfaction. What are the allegations, what evidence can be found to support or refute the allegations?
I’m always learning, learning about people, learning about new ways that IT can be used to gather information, learning about changes in the law and how it impacts on my investigations and the possible outcomes. I would say I’ve even “learned how to learn” doing this job. I’ve learned that the answers you want are usually out there, it just takes patience, some luck and being very good at finding them!
The downside is that sometimes there can be frustrations with the difficulties of obtaining information in a way that makes it admissible and with the reluctance of some people to be honest.
Undertaking employee investigations is a challenging role but it’s one I enjoy immensely.
What skills do you need to develop if you want to be good at employee investigations? I think you must have
- A curiosity (nosiness?!) about who, what, why, where, when and how
- An analytical mind
- Good writing and grammar skills
- Perseverance (in bucketful’s!)
- An ability to communicate in a relaxed, friendly manner (far more effective than aggressively interrogating people)
- A preference for variety over routine
- An ability to assimilate information quickly
- Computer literacy
- A desire and ability to learn
What do I think are the three key traits of someone who will be good at employee investigations?
- An analytical mind
I don’t know that I want those on my gravestone though!!!
Do you have an employee investigation that you are struggling with? Do you need an experienced, independent professional to take this burden off you so that you can get on with your day job? Call Metis HR now on 0844 249 1133 for an initial consultation at no cost to you.Tags: HR investigations, workplace investigations, disciplinary investigations, good at employee investigations, employee investigations, employee investigation
Some people are just negative. They don’t like their jobs, they don’t like their company, they don’t like you, their employer, they’re always treated unfairly etc etc etc. You can best manage these negative employees by not employing them in the first place!
What if you’ve inherited one of these negative employees?
Every negative employee has a story. Don’t waste too much time listening to the stories, or reviewing the history and the background about ancient grievances purported to have caused the negativity.
- Avoid providing a sympathetic audience for the negativity.
- Persistent negativity that is negatively impacting on the business and other employees is behaviour that may require disciplinary action.
- Have an initial informal meeting with the employee, where you focus on the behaviour, not the person
- Describe the behaviour that you witness and its impact
- Describe the behaviour that you require from the employee going forward
- Set a date to review progress
No progress? Still got a negative employee causing negative impact?
You need to give serious thought to embarking on formal disciplinary processes. You will likely want one of two outcomes
- They change and become less toxic to the business and their colleagues
- Having been given opportunities to change they don’t so they no longer work for you
Not as easily achieved as it sounds, be careful!
Want to know how to manage negative employees? Call Metis HR now on 0844 249 1133 for a free initial consultation and to see how we can help.
On the other hand, sometimes normally positive people are negative, and sometimes their negativity is legitimate. You’d do well to take the time to listen to these people and do something to help!Tags: HR Consultant, managing difficult staff, managing negative staff, Human Resource Issues, how to manage difficult employees, how to manage negative employees
How to deal with an office romance gone bad. Love and marriage may "go together like a horse and carriage," but the question for employers is, "Do they go together in today's business environment, especially when things go wrong?"
It's never pleasant to have to break bad news to staff but there are ways in which you can improve your chances of them receiving the news more calmly and reduce your own stress levels.
- practise the key message before you go into the meeting
- avoid cliches and try and have one sentence that sums up the main point of your message
- don't "pussy-foot" around, engaging in lots of small talk at the beginning of the meeting will make it harder for you to turn the conversation round to where you need it to go
- when you've delivered the message ask how the other person feels
- if the person becomes emotional recognise it and allow them to express how they feel before you carry on
- if it's appropriate, arrange to speak with them at a later time or the next day to check on them and answer any questions they may have once the news has sunk in
- afterwards, reflect on how you feel you did and what you would do differently if you'd to deliver that message again so that you can learn whilst it's still fresh in your mind
Don't want to break bad news yourself? Wish someone else would do it for you? Contact Metis HR on 0844 249 1133 and we'll talk to you about how we can do this for you.
Tags: how to break bad news, telling someone they are redundant, breaking bad news, telling someone they smell, giving bad news, HR Consultant, HR Consultant Lancashire, HR Consultant Rossendale, dealing with staff problems
The Government has announced that Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (formerly Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks) will be portable between employers, from March 2013. The DBS was created by the merger of the CRB and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) on 1 December 2012. As a consequence, CRB checks are now referred to as "DBS checks".
Standard checks may be made where a post is exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, while an enhanced check is appropriate where the job involves working with vulnerable groups in a regulated activity as the disclosure can include information about whether or not the individual is on either of the barred lists held by the DBS (formerly held by the ISA).
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes provisions to effect changes relating to DBS checks. A new updating service is due to be introduced so that, once a DBS check has been completed, the results are available online for employers to confirm that no new information has been added since the check was originally conductedTags: criminal record checks, updating service for DBS, employing staff to work with vulnerable people, changes to CRB, CRB checks, DBS Checks, CRB
Having an employee tell you that they've been arrested for drink driving is the time to take a deep breath and remember the old saying "act in haste repent at leisure".Tags: drunk employee, dismissal for drunk driving, employee caught drink driving, dismissal, dismissing an employee, dismissing an employee for drunk driving, disciplinary investigation, HR Consultant Lancashire, employment law, office party problems. Christmas party problems, arrested for drink driving, employee arrested for drink driving, employee convicted of drink driving offence
The "sick" comments posted on Facebook by a train worker so shocked one of his 540 "friends" that he tipped the worker's employer off. This was a slightly unusual case in that the worker's privacy settings were such that only his 'friends' could see the comments rather than the world at large, but those friends included some of his work colleagues who did not appreciate his comments. The tasteless comments involved complaints about the cost of cleaning "someone's remains off the front of one of our trains" and highly offensive comments about the suicide of Jacintha Saldhana the nurse who killed herself after accepting a prank call from an Australian radio station about the Duchess of Cambridge. The train company launched an investigation and concluded that the worker had breached its Social Media Policy with the outcome being that the worker had been "severely disciplined". You hope that you never have to use these policies but it just goes to show how much more straightforward things can be when the employer can point to a policy. If you can define what is and what isn't acceptable behaviour and prove that the employee concerned has been issued with the policy you are more able to conclude that the employee should have known better and take appropriate disciplinary action. Do you have a Social Media Policy in place? If not call us now on 0844 249 1133 we can provide you with either a standard or bespoke policy to help protect you against your own employees.
The "sick" comments posted on Facebook by a train worker so shocked one of his 540 "friends" that he tipped the worker's employer off. This was a slightly unusual case in that the worker's privacy settings were such that only his 'friends' could see the comments rather than the world at large, but those friends included some of his work colleagues who did not appreciate his comments.
The tasteless comments involved complaints about the cost of cleaning "someone's remains off the front of one of our trains" and highly offensive comments about the suicide of Jacintha Saldhana the nurse who killed herself after accepting a prank call from an Australian radio station about the Duchess of Cambridge.
The train company launched an investigation and concluded that the worker had breached its Social Media Policy with the outcome being that the worker had been "severely disciplined".
You hope that you never have to use these policies but it just goes to show how much more straightforward things can be when the employer can point to a policy. If you can define what is and what isn't acceptable behaviour and prove that the employee concerned has been issued with the policy you are more able to conclude that the employee should have known better and take appropriate disciplinary action.
Do you have a Social Media Policy in place? If not call us now on 0844 249 1133 we can provide you with either a standard or bespoke policy to help protect you against your own employees.
Do you use Volunteers in your workplace? Do you know what rights they have? A new Supreme Court ruling further clarifies the way in which the Disability Discrimination Act applies to Volunteers.Tags: Human Resource Information, Human Resource Issues, Human Resource Management Policies, Human Resources documents, human resources help, Human Resources Policies and Procedures, human resources problems, Human Resource Consultants, volunteers' rights in the workplace, volunteers' rights at work, disability discrimination act at work, disability discrimination, voluntary work, reasonable adjustments, volunteers' rights
Inappropriate use of social media by employees is an increasing problem. How do you control it? How do you react to it if you discover it?Tags: advice for employers on social media policies, company social media policy, ACAS Social Media Policy, social meida policies, social media policy, Human Resource Consultants, Human Resource Information, Human Resource Issues, Human Resource Management Policies, Human Resources documents, human resources help, Human Resources Policies and Procedures, human resources problems, HR websites, HR services, social media policy in the workplace, employee social media policy, employment policies and procedures, disciplinary procedure, disciplinary process, dismissal, managing disciplinaries, HR disciplinary investigations, HR Consultant Lancashire, HR in Rossendale
There are only 6 potential fair reasons for dismissing an employee. Take care that the process you use to reach any decision to dismiss is fair, objective and reasonableTags: redundancy rights, some other substantial reason, retirement, employment law, employment rights, employee investigation, disciplinary decisions, employee disciplinary hearing, disciplinary investigations, dismissal, dismiss an employee, dismissing an employee, fair reasons for dismissal, unfair dismissal
IMPORTANT CHANGES TO CRIMINAL RECORDS BUREAU CHECKS
From the 1st December 2012 the ISA (Independent Safeguarding Authority) and the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) are merging together to become the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).
The only change for you to be aware of is that any term referring to ‘CRB’ will now be referred to as ‘DBS’. The whole process accessing criminal records checks with us is still exactly the same.
The DBS was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and will provide a joined up service to combine the criminal records and barring functions. The service and processes currently provided by the CRB are not changing as a result of the merger. We will continue to deliver our services to customers as normal throughout this transition.
The home office however will be going through a rebranding exercise. As part of the rebranding they will introduce the new DBS logo, there will be small changes to the application form and certificates and some of the language that we use.
Changes to terminology
CRB, ISA VBS
Standard CRB Check
Standard DBS Check
Enhanced CRB Check
Standard DBS Check
ISA Adult First
DBS Adult First
Is it important to you that you are kept up to date with changes in employment law and the associated Regulations? Why not call Metis HR now and find out about out Employer Support Services? Call us now on 0844 249 1133.Tags: dealing with staff problems, recruiting staff, help for employers, safer recruitment, safeguarding, employment law, changes to CRB, DBS, CRB, HR, HR Consultant Lancashire
A recent tribunal decision has judged that a dismissal was unfair because
- the employee did not receive the required notice of his disciplinary hearing
- the employee didn't have access to the same documents as his manager at the hearing
- the employee's line manager was not the appropriate person to deal with the disciplinary matter because he had been involved with the investigation at an earlier stage
- dismissal was outside the range of reasonable responses because the respondent had not properly gone into the question of whether the claimant had received an electric shock, which the claimant had denied, and there was evidence that the faulty switch had been left in a dangerous position by another colleague but he had not been disciplined. The respondent appealed.
This decision reminds employers about the importance of following sound processes when following formal disciplinary procedures. Decisions taken early on are clearly key considerations, not just the decision at the end of the hearing about what penalty to impose.
For advice and support in employee disciplinary situations contact Metis HR on 0844 249 1133 or fill in the contact formTags: chairing a disciplinary hearing, unfair dismissal, HR Consultant Rossendale, HR Consultant Lancashire, problems in the workplace, dealing with difficult employees, disciplinary decisions, employee disciplinary hearing, notice of disciplinary hearing, who should chair a disciplinary hearing, disciplinary procedure, HR services, HR websites, Human Resources Policies and Procedures, human resources problems, Human Resources documents, human resources help, Human Resource Management Policies, Human Resource Issues, Human Resource Information, Human Resource Consultants, disciplinary action at work, disciplinary action, disciplinary investigations
Thanks to Andrew Moore Employment Law Specialist at Clough and Willis Solicitors for providing latest information on the goings on at the Employment Tribunals from April 2011 to March 2012.
- There was a 15% fall in the number of claims;
- Only 12% of claims submitted end up in success;
- Only 8% of Unfair dismissal claims submitted led to a finding in favour the Claimant/ex employee;
- The median award in unfair dismissal is £4560 (the average award being £9133);
- Only 2% of successful unfair dismissal claims led to an award of over £50,000;
- Costs were awarded against Claimants in 1295 cases.
It would seem that employment law is not getting in the way of a manager's right to manage.Tags: HR Consultant Rossendale, HR Consultant Lancashire, employment tribunal claim, tribunal claims, tribunals, employment tribunal, unfair dismissal awards
In his new book Muel Kaptein, partner at KPMG and professor in business ethics at the University Rotterdam, shares with us his 52 reflections on ethics at work
He describes 7 organisational factors which influence people’s behavior within organizations. They make interesting reading.
1. Clarity for directors, managers and employees as to what constitutes desirable and undesirable behaviour: the clearer the expectations, the better people know what they must do and the more likely they are to do it.
2. Role-modeling among administrators, management or immediate supervisors: the better the examples given in an organisation, the better people behave, while the worse the example, the worse the behaviour.
3. Achievability of goals, tasks and responsibilities set: the better equipped people in an organisation are, the better they are able to do what is expected of them.
4. Commitment on the part of directors, managers and employees in the organisation: the more the organisation treats its people with respect and involves them in the organisation, the more these people will try to serve the interests of the organisation.
5. Transparency of behaviour: the better people observe their own and others’ behaviour, and its effects, the more they take this into account and the better they are able to control and adjust their behaviour to the expectations of others.
6. Openness to discussion of viewpoints, emotions, dilemmas and transgressions: the more room people within the organisation have to talk about moral issues, the more they do this, and the more they learn from one another.
7. Enforcement of behaviour, such as appreciation or even reward for desirable behaviour, sanctioning of undesirable behaviour and the extent to which people learn from mistakes, near misses, incidents, and accidents: the better the enforcement, the more people tend towards what will be rewarded and avoid what will be punished.
Download Muel’s book as a PDF http://www.ethicsmanagement.info/content/Why%20good%20people%20sometimes%20do%20bad%20things.pdfTags: Human Resource Information, Human Resource Issues, Human Resource Management Policies, human resources help, Human Resources Policies and Procedures, HR websites, HR services, Human Resource Consultants, conduct at work, HR disciplinary investigations Lancashire, HR disciplinary investigations, HR Consultant Lancashire, disciplinary investigations, workplace ethics, behaviour at work
The school leaving age is not being raised.From summer 2013 all young people will be required to participate in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, and from summer 2015 onwards until their 18th birthday.
The age until a young person may cease participating in educational activities is changing. It’s called Raising the Participation Age.
Raising the participation age (RPA) does not mean young people must stay in school; they will able to choose one of the following options post-16:
- full-time education, such as school, college or home education
- an apprenticeship
- part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering full-time (which is defined as 20 hours or more a week).
The changes are unlikely to affect employers employing 16 and 17 year olds for less than 20 hours a week. Those businesses employing 16 and 17 year olds for longer and not providing accredited training will be affected. How? We don’t yet know the details.Tags: school leaving age raised to 17
For the golfers amongst you there’s an interesting case just been heard at Employment Appeal Tribunal where a North Wales Golf Club was appealing against a successful claim for unfair dismissal. The Club Steward was made redundant as a result of the club needing to save money. The employment tribunal found that the Steward had been unfairly dismissed because the Club didn’t consider establishing a “pool” from which the redundancies could be made.
Understandably the golf club appealed against this decision taking the case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London. The Appeal tribunal concluded that the original tribunal had not adequately considered whether it was reasonable for the Club to focus on just one employee as the “pool”. It has directed that the case be sent back to Tribunal for a fresh hearing.
Imagine the costs that the Golf Club are likely to be racking up as it now approaches its third tribunal hearing not to mention the time and energy involved in defending these 3 cases.
This case reminds us of the need for us to be able to demonstrate a fair procedure when deciding on an appropriate pool of employees from which the selection for redundancy is to be made. It is a salutary reminder of the need to consider for inclusion in the pool employees who undertake the same or similar roles in other parts of the business or at other sites, and employees whose work is interchangeable with those at risk of redundancy.
Tags: redundancy selection criteria, making someone redundant, rules on redundancy, redundancy rights, redundancy procedure, redundancy