Our clients often get frustrated by the amount of time and money that goes into managing various processes, that with a little bit of hindsight could have been avoided. So here are a few pointers from us to minimise time and effort – and a fair degree of stress too!
Note: People and employment law are very complicated, please do get advice on each individual issue before taking action. Better to be safe, than sorry!
If your disciplinary procedure is contractual and doesn’t exclude people with less than 2 years’ service then managing a short service employee out of your business could cost you 20+ hours and potentially thousands of pounds more than it should.
Ideally, make your disciplinary procedure non-contractual and include a specific clause that excludes those with short service (less than two years). That way, next time someone is misbehaving or being obnoxious to colleagues, you can dismiss them without any long winded process or time consuming meetings.
We’ve written an article on dismissing staff with short service, it’s worth a read if this is something you aren’t clear on. If you need letters to support you with a disciplinary process, policies or a contact with the correct terms – download them from our sister site Docs Wizard or for bespoke documents/advice with changing contractual terms to become non-contractual, get in touch.
Investigating grievances is costly and time consuming. Did you know you don’t have to investigate all grievances?
Grievances raised by ex-employees can be dealt with like complaints if you prefer, as per your normal complaint’s procedure. Much less time and effort required. The ACAS grievance procedure itself only refers to ‘employees’. It does not mention ex-employees at all – just be careful though if they have a protected characteristic and their grievance is about that e.g. race or pregnancy. You might need to check the wording of your current policy and amend if necessary.
You can also be realistic with grievances…..On receipt of a grievance, take time to first identify what the legal, financial or employee relations exposure is. Then, given that information, put the time and cost in that reflects the level of exposure. Not every grievance needs to be managed exactly the same. For example if there is minimal exposure, there is no harm in saying to an employee that you have allowed 60 minutes for the grievance hearing (instead of the 3 hours they thought you would give them) or that whilst you will interview 2 colleagues, you will not interview the 22 colleagues they listed as needing to be interviewed. You can stay in control of time and effort once you are clear on the exposure of the business to what has been raised in the grievance.
Other opportunities for time and cost saving include:
- Some businesses in their grievance procedure make it really clear that they will use their discretion in deciding whether or to not to investigate an issue/s older than 2 years. The ACAS Code makes it clear that employees should raise the matter without unreasonable delay. Whilst occasionally you might need to make an exception (eg if historical sex harassment is raised) this will ensure employees know they cannot hark back to what someone said when they were first interviewed 33 years previously. The time to raise that issue has come and gone.
- The ACAS code itself encourages the informal settlement of grievances so make sure you include an informal stage in your own procedure and do not allow anyone to proceed straight to the formal stage without making the effort to resolve it informally first.
Efficient issuing and signing of key employment documents
If you have regular turnover of staff creating, issuing and getting back in signed contracts and other documents is very time consuming. The same goes if you want to issue an updated handbook to all staff.
If you haven’t already, we recommend you send all such documents out via a cloud-based e-signature platform – DocuSign or Adobe Sign. You will find this so much faster, efficient and of course greener as it’s less paper consuming then other options. Signed copies are automatically saved and the automated chasing can save you hours of frustration.
But if you’re not using e-signature software in HR yet and not sure what is best for you, why not talk to your finance department who may already have it set up for invoicing (or give us a call and we can tell you what we use and how much it costs).
Reasonable grounds to believe
Not educating managers about the concept of ‘proof’ is also wasting so much time and energy. So often we hear managers say they haven’t dismissed their employee who takes endless sickies because they have no proof, or they haven’t dismissed their employee who they suspect of bullying as they have no proof.
Managers, along with the rest of the population, often watch far too many court or police dramas which are all about absolute proof and, as a result, are often hung up on not acting without the necessary proof. But proof is not needed to dismiss an employee in the UK. Instead you need ‘reasonable grounds to believe’. If you put the effort into ensuring managers understand the difference you might just save them a lot of time and stress.
Tribunal Insurance v Practical HR Advice
It drives us mad when new clients come to us saying that their existing HR advisors are not allowing them to dismiss a misbehaving or difficult employee who is driving them mad. Invariably this is because their HR provider also provides them with tribunal insurance and, in our view, it’s a conflict of interest to both give advice and provide insurance.
With money a primary driver in most businesses, protecting against claims becomes a necessity. As a result, stopping you from dismissing an employee ensures they will not have to cover the legal costs if said employee then goes to tribunal claiming unfair dismissal. It really is never going to be in their financial interests to allow you to dismiss anyone. So be very careful not to walk into a conflict of interest situation with an HR provider simply because you misunderstood that there is more money to be made from providing insurance than giving HR advice. The cost to the business of continuing to employee an under performer or misbehaving employee (frustrated manager, irritated colleagues, loss of trust in leadership, impact on culture, impact on others’ wellbeing etc) can be massive and no company protecting its insurance premiums should stop you from dismissing this kind of employee.
Jaluch has been providing HR and training services across the UK for nearly 20 years.
Training for managers …..a few examples of what we do
- Managing poor performance and discipline
- Managing absence
- Investigating grievances
- Note taking at meetings
- Understanding essential employment law
- Developing accountability
Hr support for businesses….an insight into what we offer
- Practical guidance for businesses
- Data subject access responses
- Grievance and disciplinary investigations
- Template and bespoke contracts, policies and handbooks
- TUPE guidance and support
eLearning – here’s what’s currently available, ask us for a trial license …
- Data protection
- Unconscious bias
- Digital skills // cyber security
- Manual handling
The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.