HR Problems PageTuesday, February 7th, 2012
Companion at informal warning
I recently called an employee into my office to give her an informal warning, but she insisted on being accompanied by a colleague. Was she within her rights? I allowed it on this occasion.
The right exists only if the employee is called to a formal meeting, which this apparently was not. However you were wise not to make a big issue of it. Ordinarily I suggest that you do not tell employees that they have the right to be accompanied if you intend to give no more than an informal warning, but allow them to have someone with them if they so request. Nevertheless I urge you to ensure that they are accompanied if you have any suspicion that they may not fully understand what is to be said to them, for example because their English is poor or they have learning difficulties.
Translating rule book
Do we have to provide a translated version of our rule book for every foreigner we employ?
You have an obligation to ensure that every employee understands your rules. If they did not understand a rule, you can hardly discipline them for breaking it. The issue however is not whether an employee is foreign, but whether he or she understands written English. If you have a significant number of people from an ethnic group whose home language generally is not English, there is wisdom in having your rule book translated into the language they can all read. However, regardless of new employees’ language ability, explain all your rules to them and test them to ensure that they understand. You may find it useful to have an interpreter attend their induction training to help clarify what you are saying.