Giving HR Hot Topics the ‘Royal Treatment’

The recent Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan has undoubtedly got people talking and put matters such as mental health, discrimination and ‘workplace relations’ in the spotlight.

This may have led some employers to think about their own internal practices, whether any improvements can be made and how they would address certain matters if they arose in their workplace. With this in mind, we take a look at some points below that employers may find it helpful to be aware of.

1. Mental Health Support

Mental health is still a subject that people can find difficult to talk about, particularly in the workplace, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Employers can take steps to promote positive mental health and support employees in challenging times, you may wish to consider:

  • Encouraging a culture of openness by letting employees know it’s OK to talk about mental health and any concerns they may be experiencing;
  •  Keeping in regular contact with employees to help them feel supported and provide the opportunity for them to reach out for help if they need to;
  • Ensuring managers are appropriately trained in this area, for example that they are alert to possible signs of a deterioration in mental health so that matters can be managed sensitively and appropriately and that they are able to have a basic conversation with employees regarding mental health where needed.

It’s important to bear in mind that employers have obligations under the Equality Act if an employee’s mental health is such that it would be considered to be a disability. For example, an employee should not be discriminated against and there can be a duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist disabled employees in certain circumstances.

2. Discrimination and Harassment

Prevention is key when it comes to discrimination and harassment – not only are complaints time consuming to deal with but they can be costly too as there is no limit on the amount an employment tribunal can award if a claim is successful. Employers should bear in mind that they can be vicariously liable for acts of discrimination / harassment carried out by their employees.

It’s important for employers to:

  • Ensure there are policies in place regarding equal opportunities and bullying and harassment and that these are clearly communicated to all employees and managers;
  • Provide appropriate training to all employees on these areas and ensure that this is documented;
  • Review your training records to see when training was last carried out. If it has been a while training may need to be refreshed. If training becomes ‘stale’ it can make it more difficult for an employer to defend a discrimination or harassment claim if one is made, as was the case for this employer. Is Your Organisation’s Discrimination and Harassment Training ‘Stale’?

If an employee in your organisation makes a complaint about discrimination, harassment or bullying you should seek advice on the facts of your case from Kingfisher Professional Services.

3. Personality Clashes

Unfortunately, employers can sometimes find themselves faced with the problem of two (or more!) employees who don’t get on and this can adversely impact the business or the rest of the team. Where this happens the first step to tackling the matter is usually to meet individually with the employees concerned to discuss the situation as this can help to identify steps that can be taken to resolve the problem.

Whilst it can be tempting to turn a blind eye to such an issue as it can seem daunting to address, this can lead to matters escalating and in some cases becoming even more difficult to deal with.

If you are facing a personality clash situation in your organisation, Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd is here to help, we can provide practical advice based on the facts of your case.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd.