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quick question for employment lawyers/HR professionals

(5 Posts)
MOSagain Thu 18-Apr-13 11:55:07

Asking on behalf of a friend who is the employee.
He commenced the job approx 15 months ago, job title included the area he worked in and 'administrator'. He was not particularly happy with this as was a manager and had been a manager in this area for 10+ years. However, was convenient, local to home and management money.

At appraisal approx September last year (after probationary period passed) he requested that his job title be changed to XXX manager, to reflect the work he did. In November, his immediate manager (also a director of the company) confirmed that in January 2013 his job title would change to XXX Manager, as opposed to XXX administrator. He did not seek an increase in salary/benefits, just the change in title to reflect the work he was actually doing.

Since January, he has raised the fact that the title has not officially been changed on at least 4 occasions. He had assumed it would automatically be changed in January but it has not. Approx 6 weeks ago he spoke to HR who had no knowledge of the agreed change. He has emailed his manager several times since then (manager is not always in the office) and before he went on holiday last month he wrote reminding him of the agreed changed and said he hoped it would be dealt with by the time he returned.

On his return, it had not been dealt with and yesterday in a meeting with his manager he raised the subject and said he was disappointed and the manager simply laughed and walked out of the meeting.

I have suggested he make an appt to see the head of HR and raise his concerns/possibly a grievance but am wondering if he has any real chance of success. It could be viewed as only a minor thing but I think where he is coming from, it looks far better on his CV and having worked in the field for 28 years and as a manager for 10+ years prior to taking this position, it is a matter of principle.

Views most welcome.

flowery Thu 18-Apr-13 12:49:28

"having worked in the field for 28 years and as a manager for 10+ years prior to taking this position, it is a matter of principle."

As he chose to take an administrator job, then the fact that he had been a manager previously isn't particularly relevant here. The principle is that he was told it would change and it hasn't. Was this discussion reflected in writing/an email at all?

He needs to pursue this further with his manager. When his manager just laughed in response to his question and walked out, did he just sit there and do/say nothing? Did he not stop him/her and say "no hang on, don't just walk out, can we just discuss this" or similar?

I would not advise going behind manager's back to HR, nor would I suggest a formal grievance about wanting a change in job title. Grievances can serious damage relationships especially when they are directed at line managers. Which is not to say they shouldn't be raised, of course sometimes they should, but the damage that could be caused by taking that step would be completely unhelpful to him, and is not likely to result in a change in job title anyway, which is his aim I presume? If his manager doesn't want to change your friend's job title there is no obligation to do so, and having to go through a formal grievance process isn't likely to change their mind about that or endear your friend to the Powers That Be.

He needs to arrange a one to one with his manager, stop pussy footing around with emails etc, which can easily be ignored, and calmly and maturely say that in November manager agreed that his job title could be changed to reflect the work he is doing, but he is disappointed that this hasn't so far happened and that his attempts to follow it up have been unsuccessful. He would like to take this opportunity to find out exactly what the obstacle/s is/are, and how he can best go about addressing those.

Then stand firm and don't allow himself to be ignored/rebuffed, but also don't come across as in any way whining or nagging, but genuinely maturely wanting to understand reasons and address those.

MOSagain Thu 18-Apr-13 13:25:19

Thanks flowery

He has already raised/attempted to persue this with his manager on 4 occasions since January when the change of title was supposed to have come into effect. He has had one to one meetings (to discuss other work, not just this) and has attempted to deal with this in a straighforward way. Knowing him, I don't think he would be whiny/nagging, I imagine he would have been very direct and to the point. His manager, from what I understand, is very difficult to deal with. He constantly turns up late for agreed meetings and I gather that the one that was booked yesterday was the same. It was due to be for an hour but he turned up 20 mins late and then said he only had 20 mins and when he walked out he went to another meeting so my friend had no further opportunity to pursue/press him and today the manager is not in the office and probably won't be until next week.

There is nothing in writing from the manager confirming the change but my friend has written twice over the past 6 weeks pressing for confirmation of the agreed change and from what I understand, at no time has the manager said that it had not been agreed.
The emails were sent by my friend following meetings with the manager just to confirm what was agreed and just before either my friend or the manager were away from the office for a period of time.

It seems that you are saying that despite the change in title being agreed at the formal annual appraisal, the manager/director can now renege on that? Is that correct?

Thanks again for your help.

flowery Thu 18-Apr-13 14:12:02

I'm not saying he was whiny or nagging, I'm sure he wasn't. But given the number of times he's chased, he's in danger of coming across that way anyway.

It's just difficult to picture a scenario where your friend is direct and to the point, and the manager just doesn't answer at all. But I do understand the manager is difficult to deal with.

There must be a reason for this. Does your friend have any idea what the reason might be? Normally it would be money but if there was no salary increased linked to it then it's not that. Would it/has it put others' noses out of joint so he's avoiding the issue?

He can't force it. It's a bit rubbish but something that in the course of an appraisal discussion was agreed will happen doesn't constitute a contractual change.

MOSagain Thu 18-Apr-13 14:39:43

Thanks Flowery, really appreciate it.

Neither my friend or I can work out what the issue is. There is no extra money involved, no additional benefits, just a change in job title to make it more in fitting with the work done. (incidentally, he has just found that he has been listed as XXX manager in a directory of companies providing services which is rather odd).

Just to clarify. The appraisal was september which was when the change of title was raised and it was nearly 2 months later the manager/director came back and agreed the change of title. Thats what makes no sense to me. I could understand it if he agreed on the spur of the moment but he had two months to consider before he agreed. Very very odd. I just feel sorry for my friend, it is so frustrating for him. I suspect he is looking for another job and it would look so much better on his cv to have the manager status.

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