My client is a rural start-up café which first opened its doors between Covid lockdown periods! They offer café services to walkers and others passing by at weekends and they also cater for events.
The manager wanted to get things right for her staff from the word go and so she contacted me to help her to understand what paperwork she needed for her staff to get started. I helped her out with some guidance on employment status and what the different types of worker need to have in place – are they permanent employees, or casual workers, or on zero hours contracts or even self-employed? The truth is that the café uses many different types of worker who all need different contracts in place. I was able to give guidance on how to calculate holiday entitlement. I provided tailored policies and procedures for Disciplinary, Grievance, Sickness Absence, Performance Management. As the business started to grow, we have added in an Equality and Diversity Policy and monitoring form and pre-employment checks and a checklist.
The business has now started to use Heartfelt HR on a monthly Retainer basis so that she can contact me with any day-to-day employment queries and I can answer most things quickly and easily at no extra cost. She wanted to manage her employee records effectively and efficiently and I have referred her to a company who provide a cloud-based HR System which provides employee software systems at affordable prices for small businesses.
The manager and I have built up a working relationship which provides her with HR support as and when she needs it and she knows that the support will be there for her as her business continues to grow.
I was contacted by a small business (about 50 employees) as they had decided to restructure their business in a small way and this meant the redundancy of one member of staff.
Redundancy was not something they had been involved in previously and they were keen to get it right. The business had decided (for sound business reasons) to stop doing one particular type of work which was not central to their business and did not fit with the direction in which the business wanted to go. This meant that the (only) person doing that work was no longer required. The CEO had told the individual about the proposed changes and had given a clear written statement which described the reasoning behind the decision. The individual doing the job did not accept the reasoning and was determined not to leave their employment.
I supported a manager throughout the whole redundancy process, including attending consultation meetings, taking notes, advising, drafting letters. The individual tried to overturn the decision to close down the relevant part of the business. He then used many delaying tactics, including refusing to attend consultation meetings, going sick the day before, or even the same day as the consultation meetings were booked. There was one consultation meeting, but the employee spent it trying to overturn the business decision to close that part of the business, which was not open for consultation. The employee refused to consult about the proposed redundancy, alternative roles, or any other support the organisation might be able to offer. The organisation felt intimidated by the individual and they were very concerned that the situation would end in an Employment Tribunal case. The individual kept delaying the consultation meetings, even after the work had finished and there was no longer a role for them. The employee claimed to have some employment law knowledge and quoted many instances of case law (Employment Tribunal cases) to intimidate the employer. All of the case law quoted was irrelevant to the circumstances in hand. Eventually, we completed the consultation in writing, giving the opportunity for response and discussion about any relevant points and, of course, offering an appeal process. The employee appealed the decision and the appeal was heard by the Chair of Directors who upheld the decision to dismiss for redundancy.
The CEO has since referred other businesses to me for HR support.
I was approached by a small business (15 employees) which needed to take disciplinary action against an employee whose role involved working with children and clients who cared for children.
The individual had some performance issues and his manager had discussed these with him, informally, in an attempt to support him to improve his work. Unfortunately, the employee lost his temper and was insolent and verbally abusive to his manager. It then emerged that he had also been abusive to colleagues and had used inappropriate language in front of children. My client told me that they wanted to dismiss the employee immediately for Gross Misconduct.
When I enquired further, they did not have a Disciplinary Policy and Procedure in place, just a clause in their employment contracts which said that the first course of action for a disciplinary situation would be a verbal warning. If the situation was not resolved there would be a written warning and if there was still no change, then the action would be dismissal. There was no mention of Gross Misconduct, or any right of appeal, or timescales for the warnings. There was also no indication of the process which would be followed. I was concerned that the business had left themselves open to complaints or even legal action.
The business wants to treat employees well and the omissions above were due to lack of knowledge, rather than any deliberate intention to be unfair. I did some coaching with the business about how to handle disciplinary issues. We set the wheels in motion for a disciplinary meeting with dismissal as a result if that was appropriate. I drafted some letters for them to use. Once he received the letter inviting him to a disciplinary meeting, the employee resigned, which was more satisfactory for everyone concerned.
I have now written a disciplinary policy and procedure (including a Gross Misconduct clause) for the company. I have provided letter templates and some guidance for managers. The business feels more confident in dealing with such issues in future and their employees know where they stand and how any misconduct will be handled.
The Managing Director has asked me to provide some more policies and procedures as the business moves forward and grows and they have asked me for regular HR support.