‘Tis the season to be jolly…and tell us all about it

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and tell us all about it

Christmas is coming, and with it comes parties, Instagram opportunities, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, extended time off and plenty of time on people’s hands. In other words, Social media and HR.

So what you may well ask has this got to do with me as an employer?

Plenty is the short answer, plenty.

You cannot control what an employee does or says in their free time, but what if it’s being done in your company name, company time or is associated in any way with your company. Do you even know who or what you or your brand is being associated with?

It might be the time to find out or at least set the boundaries around what is acceptable or not.

Quite bluntly, employees should not be associating their employers in any way on any form of private social media, this includes, not stating where they work, no company logos, not discussing company business, clients or other colleagues (even if they are friends) on any of their private accounts.

Many an employee and employer has at the very least been angry the very worst severely embarrassed or reputationally scarred by a rogue employee who decides to post or rant about ‘work’, post pictures of themselves in fancy dress (think that Justin Trudeau post), drunk, on holiday (when they’ve rang in sick), high, taking drugs, espousing views that would make the most ardent left or right winger choke over their cornflakes, engaging in splats on Twitter with a major client, swinging, posing provocative, boasting about all sorts – you get the picture, all the while sitting proudly next to that is your Company name.

So what to do about it, like anything you set the boundaries, and the easiest way to do that is draft a policy into your HR Handbook or Policies & Procedures and make all employees aware of it.

To help you out, I have drafted one here for you for free. Download our Social Media Policy template to enable your business to develop clear policy guidelines around social media usage.

If you need any help with any of the topics mentioned in this blog then please contact us.

 

Download your free Social Media Policy

Social Media

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How to safely terminate employment

How to safely terminate employment

Taking the decision to terminate an employee can be a stressful one. How do you make sure you have a legitimate case? What’s the correct way to dismiss them to avoid being landed with an employment tribunal hearing? In this week’s blog we aim to shed some light on the factors you need to consider and will also explain the correct procedure to dismiss an employee safely.

What is dismissal?

Firstly, let’s look at the term dismissal. Dismissal is when you end an employee’s contract. There are many different kinds of dismissal including:

• Fair: You have a valid reason for dismissing someone such as redundancy, they committed gross misconduct, they are incapable of, or something prevents them legally being able to, do their job, e.g. they have lost their driving licence.
• Unfair: An employee can claim unfair dismissal and take you to an employment tribunal if they think the reason was unfair, you acted unreasonably or the reason you gave for dismissal wasn’t the real one. There are many reasons that are automatically deemed unfair: these include any discrimination over age, gender or race, pregnancy, acting as a trade union representative, joining or not joining a trade union and many more. You can find out more about unfair dismissal here
• Constructive: When an employee resigns because you’ve breached their employment contract. This could be because you cut their wages without agreement, unfairly increase workload, make them work in dangerous conditions for example.
• Wrongful: Wrongful dismissal is when you break the terms of an employee’s contract during the dismissal process. For example, dismissing someone without giving them propert notice.

What’s the difference between fair and unfair dismissal?

The difference between a fair and unfair dismissal rests entirely on two points; the reason for dismissal and how you act during the dismissal process. You must act ‘fairly’ and ‘reasonably’ and the law has very specific ways of defining these terms. To dismiss fairly you need a ‘fair’ reason such as conduct, behaviour, capability redundancy, breach of statutory restriction or some other substantial reason, such as a restructure. Even if you terminate via a fair procedure, if the reason isn’t ‘fair’ then the dismissal will be deemed unfair.

If your reason is fair, you must then act ‘reasonably’ before you terminate someone. This means you must investigate properly, consider alternatives and be consistent with how you have treated other employees. If you are dismissing an employee because of misconduct, you must conduct a thorough investigation before holding a disciplinary hearing and ensure they have the right to appeal your decision.

How to stay safe

To terminate an employee should be considered as a last resort. You should consider all possible alternatives before taking the decision to terminate. These alternatives will differ based on the particular issue you have with the employee. For example, if you are considering dismissing because of ill health, you should consider how you could get the employee back to work. You may need to consult their doctor, arrange an occupational health assessment or make adjustment to their role/work space if they are suffering from a disability. If on the other hand performance is the issue, then the employee must be warned about their short comings and given the time and support to improve.

If you make sure you act fairly and reasonably at all stages of the process, and have a legitimate reason for termination you should be safe from the penalties you may be concerned about from an employment tribunal. The ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) code of practice has set out clear advice to business owners on how to dismiss someone properly. You can download the full code of practice here.

The implications of getting it wrong

If you are taken to an employment or industrial tribunal for unfair or wrongful dismissal the penalties could be considerable. You may be ordered to reinstate the employee into their previous position or ‘re-engage’ them, (re-employ them in a different job). You may have to pay compensation which varies depending on the employees age, gross weekly pay and length of service. The compensation a tribunal can award is limited unless you are penalised for unfair dismissal in cases relating to health and safety or whistleblowing. In these cases, compensation can be particularly severe.

If you are considering terminating an employees contract be sure to obtain professional advice to ensure you are working to the correct procedures. The team at Crosse HR are here to help whether you are looking for advice or a professional intermediary to ensure you get the resolution you desire whilst staying on the right side of the law.

References

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1650
https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/overview

Express yourself!

Express yourself!

I had drafted this post yesterday and lo and behold I was having a conversation with someone who asked me this very thing, so I had to post on it.

Everyone is unique and entitled to express their individuality. Right?

Well you would be mistaken, especially when it comes to work. I often get asked from exasperated employers what to do about an employee who is coming in showing their rather colourful, dis/tasteful tattoos, body piercings/maimings, (there appears to be a rise in people willingly putting giant holes in their ear lobes), looking dirty, scruffy, unkempt, too much cleavage, legs etc and the employee refusing to do anything about it on the grounds of their rights and their right to express their individuality. woman_suit

Its an easy one to answer really, not to put too fine a point on it, if you are an employer and employing someone to do a job, you are entitled to insist employees are clean, hide or remove all visible piercings, body art, cover up and come to work in clothes that show respect for themselves and their colleagues and reflect the culture of the organisation. Usually an embarrassing conversation about smartening or covering up and a gentle reminder that the workplace is not the set of  TOWIE, a night club or a body art convention suffices. Tell them to cover up, clean up and dress appropriately end of.

I came across an organisation recently who expressly told their prospective candidates NOT to wear a suit to the interview. Thats fine, now everyone knows you can show up there dressed casually and no-one will bat an eyelid. If you don’t mind tattoos and jeans, then thats fine too, no point in turning up there in a suit.

Conversely I’ve come across an individual who worked in a corporate environment, suits and smart dress all around, who insisted on wearing scruffy t-shirts and jeans, and refusing to wear shoes, preferring instead to walk around in their socks. It took some persuading and then threats to get them to raise their sartorial game, but the end result is that individual literally torched their own long term career prospects full stop.

Bottom line is – your organisation – your rules and if an individual wishes to express their individualism and you would prefer they not do it in work time, then they do so outside of work hours or outside of your organisation. Work, unless you want to create that environment is not the place to experiment with an alternative look.

Make the rules and your dress standards clear from the beginning, at the interview stage even. If you want a rule followed then set the rules in advance. A good code of conduct always helps, a mention of dress codes in the contract and staff handbook and a brief paragraph in any Induction manual usually does the trick. No need to have the 80 page dress code manual some organisations have where even the denier of tights is insisted upon. Then if all else fails……………………..