HR Problems PageThursday, March 8th, 2012
Violence in discipline interview
Part way through a discipline interview the accused employee leaned over the desk and threatened to thump me. I managed to calm him down, but how should one deal with these situations?
Sit nearest the door! Your personal safety is the first consideration so, if you have to meet this man again, or indeed have suspicions about anyone you are to interview, have someone big and strong in with you, or at least just outside the door.
If violence takes place or is threatened, end the meeting immediately and send the person away, if appropriate off the site. You then have two issues to deal with. First the employee, in showing violence, has committed gross misconduct. You should therefore arrange for a colleague to hold a disciplinary interview with you as a witness. At the very least the employee should be given a final warning that could remain on file indefinitely. However you probably have sufficient grounds for summary dismissal. If however the employee does remain in your employment, you must then continue the original discipline interview and deal with the original issue properly.
An employee is regularly absent on Fridays. He says that, after four days work, he is too exhausted to come in. What should we do?
First discuss with the man what part of the job tires him. Can you help in some way, for example by offering lifting aids or restructuring the job? If this seems unlikely to help, get the man’s written permission to write to his doctor. Enclose the man’s written permission, explain in simple terms what the job involves, and ask the doctor what might be causing the problem. You will be expected to pay for this report.
If the man has a significant ailment that affects his day-to-day living, then he may be protected by disability discrimination legislation and you will have to take all reasonable steps to help him do his job.
However, if there appears to be no significant medical problem, you will need to point out to the man that you cannot tolerate his regular absences and that, if they continue, you will have to consider serious disciplinary action.