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Do HR trump managers?(14 Posts)
Just that really- if HR tells a manager something can a manager refuse to act on it or say it's not in the business's interest?
It completely depends on what HR are telling the manager and on the culture of the organisation you're in. You'll need to give more detail if you want a more definitive answer.
@Madamswearsalot I can't say too much as it's very outing. Basically my contract says I am entitled to something, and HR confirmed this. Can managers then refuse?
HR are there in an advisory capacity to tell the manager the legal and best practice route to take. IME managers do ignore what they are told until the shit hits the fan. It's one of the reasons I left HR!
From my experience a lot of Managers make a lot of mistakes and make rash decisions. HR often have to give them advice or help to sort out their mess! HR do seem to have the upper hand.
@madam is right I’m afraid.
If the HR manager is advising based on the law or the view of the Senior management team and the manager goes against that they may find themselves either subject to disciplinary action themselves or left to defend any ET claim resulting from their actions independent of the organisation as the HR manager will be able to demonstrate that they had been given appropriate advise.
If, however, it’s a more minor matter where there is room for some discretion then yes, you can ignore it, but you should make sure you fully understand it, and all it’s implications, first.
A lot of people want to ignore HR for certain individuals and then wonder then why they can’t be tougher and apply the policy to the letter with others. Funny that
Many people don’t realise that HR isn’t there to protect and side with the employees, HR is there to support the business.
In most businesses people are the greatest asset the company has and HR play a huge role in helping managers to develop a culture that gets the best out of people while at the same time advising the business (the managers) on how to do things in a way that doesn’t open them up to downstream problems.
Most of the time the managers don’t report into HR so the HR folk can’t tell them what to do or “trump” them but it takes a brave manager to ignore HR advice on something where HR hold the expertise and you’d find it would very quickly go up the food chain to someone who can trump that manager and they’d probably be in trouble for a lack of judgement as well.
Don’t forget though that all else being equal, HR will side with the managers over the employees.
I don't agree that HR always side with managers. If a manager does something that clearly breaks employment law, then HR know they would be negligent in their duty not to point the matter out to the manager.
What is generally the case is that such discussions take place behind closed doors so people in the workplace don't get to see the reality - one thing is certain, HR often have to clear up the mess left by a trail of destruction caused by inept management. It's a scary prospect that management who have responsibility for large numbers of staff don't always have a strong command of employment law, or they know it and ride roughshod over it, and HR have to point that out.
OP what you can put money on is that any decision made, either to award you the 'entitlement ' or not, will depend on cost/benefit- do they want to keep you, motivate you, retain your services as an employee. they could say to themselves that they'll take the risk, say no and see if you take things further or put up/shut up. Conversely, they decide not to risk the monetary "save" by not giving you "the entitlement" because the cost of losing you is way more in terms of loss of your intellectual contribution, recruitment costs etc.
The big If...... If you have a contractual entitlement, which is captured in black and white in your Contract of Employment, then it is difficult to see how HR would say one thing and Management would say another. Surely if it is that clearcut, there is no discussion to be had?
If it's in your contract and they withhold or contravene it then they would be in breach of contract and you would have a case to take to tribunal
I work in HR - I risk assess for managers on tricky decisions but it's always ultimately their decision. If they really want to take a risk (eg to dismiss where there is a significant risk of claim) and they do it with their eyes open and the business benefit is worth it, then it's up to them but usually they will take a cautious approach to mitigate the risk.
It's ALWAYS their final decision though (where I work anyway). Sometimes it can get escalated if they really don't want to take the best practice advice, in which case a more senior manager will sanction it.
As others have said, HR are there in an advisory capacity. Managers don't have to listen, but they would be foolish to ignore sound advice when it's provided, and they could leave themselves very vulnerable in doing so.
A lot depends on the quality of the HR team though - in my current organisation, there is a fairly big HR team but they aren't very good, and their advice is terribly inconsistent. I frequently find that I have to refer them to relevant sections of organisational policy, as they don't always seem familiar with it. Sometimes they don't seem very hot on employment law either. And if you put the same question to three different advisers, you're likely to get three different answers!
There can be sound business reasons not to take the 'best practice' HR advice on occasion though.
For example I was once dealing with a case where an employee had a long term health condition and the recommendation was that she could return to work but only if she didn't lone work. This would probably be ok in a lot of work environments but not the one I work in, retail (small shops often only one member of staff on site).
The cost of effectively doubling up on staffing would have eaten into the profit margins of that shop to the extent that it was making a loss. Hence the best business decision was to dismiss, and take the risk of a claim. Even if she'd won her claim this would still have been less than the losses the shop would make on a long term basis.
HR help managers make these sorts of decisions all the time.
In your case it will depend what the core issue is and why it is not being honoured. Is it something that can be interpreted or is it something that is the law and simply black and white.
Without more details I can't advise further.
Whether you also have a legal right to the thing your contract says you can have is also significant. For example, a manager telling you that you can't have SMP when you meet the legal requirements for it is going to run into trouble sooner rather than later.
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