The Festival of Learning

The month of September sees the festival of learning, the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England. It aims to highlight the benefits of learning and to inspire people.

To join in with this celebration, throughout the month we will be shining a spotlight on different areas of employment law and providing top tips on how to manage some common employment law issues in the workplace.

In our first update in the series, we take a look below at supporting those who are new to the world of employee management.

Things I Wish I’d Known…

If you have someone in your organisation who is new to managing employees or dealing with employee matters, it’s important to ensure that they are appropriately supported when they are starting out. It may be that they have just been promoted, they are taking on some additional responsibilities or they have been newly recruited and are being trained up for the role. The provision of support and training will not only be beneficial to the employee but can help to secure better outcomes for your organisation as its more likely that matters will be dealt with lawfully and appropriately.

Here’s some top tips for setting up for success those who are new to dealing with employee matters:

  • Make sure they are familiar with your organisation’s policies and procedures
  • Be clear what their remit is, when matters need to be escalated and who to go to if they need help
  • Ensure they are aware that matters should be dealt with fairly, appropriately and consistently
  • Make sure they understand the importance of keeping appropriate records – these can be vital in the event of a dispute with an employee
  • Be clear about the expected standards of behaviour – managing employees and dealing with employment matters can be frustrating and difficult at times but it’s important that it’s done in a professional manner, not only to avoid escalating the situation but because employees can complain if they feel they have been treated inappropriately.

Many experienced managers will be able to cast their minds back to when they were starting out and think of things they wished they’d known, here’s a few things that someone new to employee management in your organisation may find it useful to know:

  • Unsuitability

Employees need two years continuity of service or more in order to be able to claim ordinary unfair dismissal. If an employee has short service it may be possible to dismiss them, for example for conduct or poor performance, without the need to go through the usual procedures. However, there are a number of claims that can be brought from day one of their employment, such as discrimination, so it’s important for the organisation to always seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd on the facts of the case before any action is taken.

  • Gross misconduct and unfair dismissal

Whilst it may be tempting to dismiss an employee on the spot, if they have two years’ service or more this is likely to be unfair. Even if an employee is suspected of gross misconduct it’s still important to carry out a full and thorough investigation and follow a fair disciplinary procedure. It’s also important to bear in mind that it is not automatically fair to dismiss an employee if they have committed an act of gross misconduct, any dismissal still needs to be ‘within the band of reasonable responses’ – fair and appropriate in the circumstances.

  • Managing performance

It’s worth bearing in mind that the leadership styles and energy of managers can have a significant impact on employee performance. If the right leadership style is used at the right time it can have a positive impact on employees, motivating them in a sustainable way and supporting them to reach their full potential in their role.

There are also some steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood that poor performance will occur. These include, clearly communicating realistic targets and priorities so employees know what is expected of them, offering help and support at an early stage where needed and appropriately monitoring employee performance. Unfortunately, poor performance can’t always be prevented, if a performance issue is identified, it’s important that advice on how to manage it is sought from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before any action is taken.

If you would like advice on an employment law matter in your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.

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