HR problems pageWednesday, April 13th, 2011
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.
Keeping it in the family
We have a section in our foundry where the work is dirty, noisy and smelly, and as a result we have difficulty recruiting. However a pair of West Indian brothers who work in there have said that they will fill all our vacancies in the section if we agree to employ their family members only. This would solve our recruitment problem. Do you see any dangers?
Yes. If you restrict recruitment to one family, they almost certainly will be of the same ethnic group. You would thus be discriminating against all other races, which is unlawful and would get you into serious trouble at law. Have you done all you can to improve the environment in the section? Ask the people who work in there what they think you could do to improve working conditions. Otherwise by all means have the two brothers bring along their family members for interview but tell them that you cannot restrict recruitment in the way they ask. Be aware that any concentration of just one ethnic, religious or gender group suggests discrimination, even if indirect and even if unintentional. Safeguard yourself by advertising all the vacancies, and select purely on merit.
Who is the thief?
I know that one of the two people working my shop is stealing money and stock, but I do not know which one it is. I have been told that I could safely sack both. Is that correct?
There is indeed case law that would support your actions in sacking both employees. However you would need to satisfy the court that you had clear evidence that the money was missing rather than it be the result of poor book or stock-keeping; that it had to be one of the two employees and not, say, a customer or supplier; and that you had investigated as fully as you reasonably could to determine which of the two was the culprit, but were unable to find out. This is quite a lot of proof, which you may not find easy. If you sack both, you would have no staff and would have sacked one innocent person. I suggest that you tighten up your systems and take other steps to make theft more easily traceable.