HR Problems PageWednesday, April 11th, 2012
Our rule book states on its first page “Throughout this book the male pronoun refers to both males and females”. We therefore state for example “An employee wishing to take holiday should obtain a holiday form from his manager”. However a group of women has said that this is wrong and should read “… his or her manager”. How do we stand?
There is no law demanding that you use “his and her”. However, consider two issues. First, although what you have in your rule book is fine by me, it clearly is not fine for a group of your employees so I suggest you consider their sensibilities. Talk it over with them to assess the depth of their feelings. Second, were you ever to have to defend yourself against an alleged serious incident of sex discrimination, your male-only wording might be used as evidence that you are a sexist organisation. Why not overcome the problem and at the same time make your rule book more user friendly by adopting the second person and state “If you wish to take a holiday, you should obtain a holiday form from your manager”.
Children at work
An employee, a single mother, wants to earn a bit of overtime so is coming in on Saturday morning when few other employees will be on site. She cannot get a child-minder for her five and six year old children so has asked if she can bring them with her to work. What do you advise?
You should not allow this. You have not described your workplace but even a seemingly safe office contains hazards for young children. Also, at those ages children need attention and this could be a distraction from their mother’s work. Your only options are to provide a crèche or pay for childminding, otherwise refuse her request.