HR managers opinion on my HR management opinion?(14 Posts)
I'm currently 6 months into a sickness management procedure. Staff concerned, has reacted violently to an attempt to manage their sickness absence and is not co-operating. (This reflects their personality rather than an aspect of the way it has been conducted)
Situation has become extremely personal with their fury directed at me. Sickness absence has increased since procedure used. Performance at work (on the rare occasion...) has gone down drastically. Team morale was great.... now shit.
I don't feel we have made any progress whatsoever. From a business point of view, use of the policy has had a terrible impact. From staff member's pov it's been stressful and turned a member of staff who was previously 'difficult' into out and out confrontational. Personally it's been horribly stressful.
I met with the previous line manager last week who told me she had gone through exactly the same process, exactly the same experience....same staff reaction, same increased sickness, lack of co-operation..... and knew that it had also happened in the previous job. So this one member of staff has spent years cycling in and out of sickness management causing huge distress to all and maximum disruption. Financial impact is huge. HR are unwilling to take a final step towards dismissal. Is this normal? I'm struggling to feel anything positive about HR management policies.
I've always been a line manager but through the sickness and perf management loop a few times. My advice is Don't start what you aren't prepared to finish. Check in writing that they are prepared to sack, don't proceed unless the answer is yes. I would also say that in my experience, gross misconduct - in the form of timekeeping is the motorway route to getting rid of people, or abuse of Internet policy.
If this person has been doing this without the final step being taken for two years then that's part of the problem.
Is he/she on a final written warning?
Yes she is flowery. She has decided to return on the basis of this but 'reasonable' allowance has been made to allow her to return -she's not doing 50% of her role.
We will have to employ to cover the rest of the role. HR seem to think this is reasonable. I don't. Without support of HR not a lot I can do
(Just about to go out if I don't reply immediately to other comments.)
Speaking as an HR person, it's important to remember HR are not in charge. They advise, but they don't make decisions about whether to dismiss. The conversation should be more along the lines of I intend to dismiss this person, please advise me of the process that I should follow and what the risks are.
How senior are you? If you're not a director I would suggest involving your boss, as he/she would probably have to authorise a dismissal anyway.
Thank you. I am not a director but have now involved the boss and given clear instructions.
I'll await next step!
I would add that each additional bit of bad behaviour be dealt with separately while continuing the absence management process.
If she is literally reacting "violently" that sounds dreadful and I have never known violence in the workplace to be treated as anything other than gross misconduct. I would be dealing with that using the disciplinary process too but completely separate to the absence issue - it's a conduct issue.
Also, if your absence policy states no sick pay or pay at management discretion I would be looking to enforce that while being careful to ensure everyone is being treated the same.
I'm assuming there's no disability to be considered?
Katie that is the thing that bugs me. HR have told me not to deal with the rest. I'm accepting their advice because I feel they have expertise but also feel like I'm expected to accept unacceptable behaviour. It all feels wrong. I have specifically asked about behaviour and conduct management along with performance because there are so many issues but was warned it was too much to deal with and just focus on one thing at the moment. HR fully acknowledge behaviour is unacceptable. They raised it with me but then said we have to be 'reasonable' for now.
Violent refers to her emotional response rather than physical. Not tearful but anger and not hidden either.
DDA features, yes. Reasonable adjustment has been made, alternative roles, different hours, special equipment but unable to do the job still and unwilling to accept any alternative. (I was sympathetic but its faded with behaviour issues-prob should add I have another chap under DDA who we have kept at work and none of the nastiness). I think it's now a clear path to capability as the next step. HR are arranging meetings which resolve nothing and then we agree a review meeting which gets put back due to diary/work clashes. Then she cancels last minute so we set a new date.... Which is set back due to annual leave/diary issues...impetus lost so we have a meeting and start all over again because she feels situation has changed. So at that meeting we set new action plan and so the process rolls on. I'm struggling to see any benefit to anyone.
Gosh it all sounds a bit of a mess and your hr department seem a bit wet. Have a read of ACAS's disciplinary guidelines (can't link - I'm on phone but you can Google it). Ignoring stuff that would not be ignored for other staff just because there's an existing conduct or capability issue going on is foolish and also unfair. If another member of staff would have disciplinary action taken in the circumstances so should this person. It should be dealt with separately and where possible investigated and any disciplinary hearing carried out by somebody other than you.
As a general rule if something feels wrong or unfair it may well be and deserves at least a bit of thought. As flowery says hr are there to advise - management take the decisions and sometimes people are wrong.
Have a look at the ACAS guide and also read your own organisation's absence and disciplinary policies and processes. Just from what you've posted here I would question the following:
Can you manage the process yourself? It is not hr's job to be arranging meetings. They should just be advising.
Why is she allowed to cancel meetings? If a meeting needs to be postponed due to absence then hold it the first day back. Make sure you give enough notice. If it is due to your absence get another manager to cover it. You'll need to brief them but it is possible for them to review an improvement plan and hold the meeting.
Why is she allowed to dictate the pace? It is not her place to decide whether the issues raised by her manager have merit!
There should be a clear timeline and process for an absence management, other conduct or capability processes. Do you know what it is? Does she have an improvement plan? Has she been warned of the failure to meet the plan?
Tbh there's a lot going on here and I would probably be raising concerns up the line that you are not getting sufficient support from hr. You need really good support, especially when there is a disability issue too.
It is messy. I appreciate a little of HRs thinking. It will get messier if we start on conduct and could be seen to be aggressive unless we have sound evidence. We do have evidence but nothing dismissable and all in private situations, so hearsay (although HR have been witnesses and agree it's rude and intolerable) - so there would be a second procedure which would follow a long process and the 'mitigation' of stress could be used and it would all get very complicated and messier. I think they think, focus on one issue and get that 'right'. I would accept this if I thought the outcome was going to resolve all issues one way or another but I've lost faith in that.
I cannot arrange meetings without HR being present for them. I do the inviting and arranging. They are unavailable... postholder is unavailable and we fix a date weeks away. Days before... postholder has a hospital appt..... (every time) I pushed at the last meeting to have a line included saying we wouldn't cancel again but would go ahead regardless.
I'm made to feel like I'm being unreasonable when I do try to be more proactive. I need HR support. Don't feel I have it and feel that I will lose what help I have if I go against their advice. I have made myself available for every single meeting regardless of my diary/personal life.
I almost laughed out loud at this> It is not her place to decide whether the issues raised by her manager have merit! I could not agree more!! I am firmly stating that I have good grounds for decisions (I really do have!) and stating that as the manager I have made the decision. I have my managers agreement with my decision... HR advice is always to 'review' I have at our last meeting insisted on a timescale and clear process. So meeting held and those were 'agreed' Hoorah!
Summary sent (based on notes HR made and my recollection and agreed between me and HR before posting) and she returned a letter disputing outcome and refusing to accept it.
So HR have suggested another meeting...
I have done exactly as you said. My manager has been given clear notice that I can't carry on like this and something will give. She has stepped in to request a resolution. Since that moment there has been silence from everyone. I have almost washed my hands of it...obviously cannot but nor can I make anyone else take up the reins or back me. I feel fed up <understatement>
How frustrating for you.
Just one point, a conduct issue with outbursts like you have described does not need to be a long drawn out process nor do they have to be dismissible incidents - they just have to be enough that any employee behaving the same would expect action to be taken. In fact it shouldn't be a drawn out process. It should be investigating (collecting of witness statements) by a third party and then if the outcome of that is that there has been misconduct a disciplinary hearing with 5 days notice (or whatever your policy says) with right to be accompanied. You could do it in a week.
It does sound farcical and I'm not surprised you feel like giving up. Your hr department is not giving you the support you need and it just makes things worse.
If hr department are not up to this you could suggest getting someone external in? May not be a bad idea for an independent person to review and investigate the outbursts.
It sounds like HR are being very cautious. It's frustrating when HR don't see or understand the affect this type of thing has on the operations. Even in a junior HR role years ago, id work with the management closely to ensure that issues such as this were dealt with quickly and in line with procedure.
I like Flowery's advice: go to HR and say I believe we have more grounds to dismiss, what is the safest process to do this?
I would get your boss on board and go to the most senior HR person too. Perhaps be prepared to say you will deal with any comeback, but with or without your support, I wish to go down this route, it is costing too much money (through low morale, decreased performance etc) to continue whatever 'plan' we're currently following. Clearly state: it's not working and this person needs to be removed from the business.
The options from there are either:
- dismissal under capability (ill health)
- begin formal warnings for behaviour (if not serious enough for gross misconduct dismissal)
- compromise agreement and pay her off.
The process just isn't tight enough in my opinion. If the reasonable adjustments are in place and absence still is an issue, as is her ability to do the job, then she is incapable of fulfilling her job role. You can prove the support, reasonable adjustments and following a fair procedure of dismissal (invite, meeting, outcome and appeal) then you should be risk free
Thank you all of you. I really mean this. You have helped me see things clearly. I have already done some of what you've suggested and reading it has reinforced that it was the correct thing to do. I have not had this sort of advice until now and have felt floundering questioning everything. I now feel reinforced to go ahead with a clear goal and plan to follow policy to get there
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