HR Problems PageTuesday, October 19th, 2010
Here we take our weekly look at answering some of the tricky HR questions we’ve been emailed. If you have a tricky HR question you needs answering email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post the best here with an answer each week.
Redundancy – bumping
As part of a cost saving exercise we are doing away with the job of Receptionist and the lady who has done that job for nearly ten years has been put into the sales department where she will do telephone sales work. Obviously she can do the job, but they are making an existing telephone sales girl redundant. The girl has shorter service but, even so, as her job is not redundant, she surely cannot be dismissed on those grounds. It seems unfair.
Your employer is acting quite correctly because there is redundancy and as a result someone is being dismissed, but it need not be the person in the disappearing job. You need to recognise that, in law, people not jobs are redundant. What your employer is doing is called “bumping” and is perfectly lawful. When redundancy is announced, a selection has to be made of the most suitable persons and in this case it seems that your employer has gone for length of service. If you think about it, that really is the fairest way in your situation.
Raising standards of behaviour
I want to raise standards of behaviour but am getting conflicting advice. One party tells me that, if I wish people to behave differently, I need to renegotiate their contract as to do otherwise would bring claims of breach of contract. Another party recommends that I dismiss the first person who fails to perform to the required standard to demonstrate to the others the need to behave better. Which of them is right.
Neither of them. The first bit of advice would be relevant if you were changing terms and conditions of the employment contract, which raising standards is not. The second bit would get you in court for unfair dismissal. Instead explain to your employees the standards required, ensuring that they are not unreasonable, and let them know that failure to comply with them will result in disciplinary action. When anyone fails, do just that, though be charitable with the first couple of sinners, tell everyone that you have been charitable but that from now on you will apply your standards and discipline procedure in full. You had better join one of our courses yourself, then you will get a better idea of how to make best use of your employees and not fall foul of the law.
Alternatively just send them both on one of our Employment Law courses where we can explain things clearly and simply. :)