Monthly Archives: August 2009

The spaces in between

Many businesses take out  insurance to cover them against unfair dismissal claims.  These policies require employers to follow the insurer‘s advice or lose their cover.

One problem is the cost of delay/compliance with the insurer’s requirements. These requirements can go way beyond the requirements of employment law.

For example, recently we worked with a business whose insurers had required six weeks consultation for a small-scale (less than 20) redundancy exercise. The business had barely managed to cover payroll during an earlier extended period of consultation (as required by their insurers) and when a further redundancy exercise was needed a few months later, they came to us for advice on how to implement a redundancy exercise in a more timely fashion.

This time, rather than our client asking the insurers ‘advice line’ what should I do, and simply carrying out everything on the list, we put together a proposed plan with timescales, method of selection, processes etc. The question this time was “if we do this will be still be on cover”.

The answer was, of course, yes. This time the consultation process was completed within a fortnight. Our client is still within the terms of their cover AND they have done what their business needed within an acceptable timescale for them.

The amount they spent on our advice was covered more than five fold by the money they saved from an extended consultation period and they even managed to put some of the saving towards ex gratia payments for the outgoing staff.

Sometimes success is not in ‘great victories’ but in navigating the spaces in between.

Click these links for other blogs on redundancy :

and link to this web page on Irenicon –

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060
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Filed under employment law, redundancy

It’s not the person – it’s the job

Sometimes under performance is not really about the person, it’s about the job being badly designed.

If you just assume that under performance is the person and you sack them or move them on, you will find the next person fails as well.

If you do a proper performance management process you can find out whether it is the person or the job, and if it is the job you can fix it.

Here’s a tip:  If several people have ‘failed’ in this job, is it the job?

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Filed under bullying at work, performance management

Government can’t follow it’s own rules

The Swine flu helpline has been caught out using workers under 18 at times when it is illegal for them to work. 

This is not the first time the Government has had difficulty in interpreting or applying employment law legislation.  From losing millions by printing incorrect advice on discipline and dismissal or TUPE to failing to comply with the basic rules of employment when acting as an employer the UK government seems to have the view that laws are for other people.

Whilst MPs are content to churn out complex rules to cover the smallest UK employer, the reality is the government departments cannot follow the rules they impose on everyone else.  Why?  

Is it that the rules are so difficult to understand and interpret? – in which case why not make them easier?.

Or is it that senior officials take the view the rules don’t apply to them?

Why not survey government departments for compliance before we impose these rules on smaller businesses?  Anything they can’t comply with let’s suspend while we get it simplified.

With the tax payers millions at their disposal and the benefit of having written the rules – if they can’t comply how can anyone else?

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Filed under swine flu, young workers

Let’s not complicate things

Working through client files I am struck by how organisations struggle with elaborate procedures.

The managers can’t follow elaborate procedures in practice, and often bypass them.

It is tempting for HR to write careful lists of “do’s” and “don’ts”. The guidance notes can be far longer the procedures. They rarely achieve the desired result.

Nothing substitutes for having clear, simple systems which everyone understands. This allows managers to manage their staff.

HR’s proper desire for compliance and clear documentation can be combined with line management’s need for performance and speed.

Properly approached, ‘compliance’ is a productive way to build real performance gains into the people management strategies of your business.

It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than you make it…

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Filed under discipline and dismissal