- You do not need to delay holding formal HR meetings just because you cannot get the relevant parties into the room.
- For commercial and legal reasons it often makes sense to push ahead with meetings. Disciplinary action should not be unduly delayed (2 weeks we usually recommend), likewise with grievance investigations and of course redundancy consultations are usually driven by commercial need and timings too.
- What you need are HR staff and managers who feel competent and confident with using phones, web links etc to conduct meetings. Its just a bit different, so ask your HR people and managers as necessary to work outside their comfort zones for a bit as familiarity and ease with come quickly. Consider some internal training/practice with this. Not everyone will feel as confident as you do with technology.
- All types of connection including Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp video, web based video conferencing is acceptable. Prepare to be flexible.
- Know that in periods of high demand (already seen by many of us when broadband speeds slow when children come out of school at 4pm) your connectivity may not be as good as you would like. One option to improve the quality of a call is to ask people to plus directly into their home routers rather than operate using wifi.
- Ask participants to log on to conferencing or check functionality 10 minutes ahead of a meeting. Ask all parties to do this
- At the start of the meeting allow as much time as is needed for everyone to ensure they can hear, see and are in a confidential space and able to make notes during the call. This could take some time if there are tech issues so ask all parties to be patient and allow sufficient time.
- A note taker should be invited to log on to a call or make a decision that audio recording will be used instead and notes written up afterwards. Ensure all parties understand what is decided.
- Don’t worry about the other party using a voice recorder without your knowledge or consent. This happens all the time so we recommend that when doing a remote meeting you just go with it but do so in the knowledge that your notes will need to be accurate.
Right to be accompanied and confidentiality
- Get all parties to introduce themselves and to confirm that no other unexpected persons are in the room with them.
- Ask all parties to confirm that there will be no breach of confidentiality ie the space used for the call is an appropriate private space for a sensitive conversation. If necessary allow 10 minutes or so for the meeting to be moved to a confidential space but to avoid this delay flag up the importance of this
- With regard to the companion that is allowed by law, prepare to be flexible with this as it might not be possible to get a fellow worker, staff or union representative to accompany. We recommend you advise that a family member can accompany instead just on this occasion, provided they can confirm that family member is not a legal professional.
- During the call, require cameras to be turned on as this is crucial both to better read emotions during difficult conversations and also to bring a human face into the meeting, limiting the colder approach of voice only.
Helping your employees and business stay safe
Template letters/policy available with accompanying telephone HR support as needed on an ad hoc basis (no contract required) from firstname.lastname@example.org or 01425 479888 (lay offs packages and guidance, redundancy consultation letters and policy, home working policy, short time working policy and letters and staff/employee representative training kit – all the material you need to deliver to your staff)