Jeremy Clarkson is in the news once again. Last time for reciting the old nursery rhyme eeny meeny miny mo….and going on to use the now forbidden N word. And now we have the ‘slopes’ debacle. It seems there is no end to the ways in which one media person can create offence to various groups.
This is not the first or second time Clarkson has offended. I am not writing to debate the rights and wrongs of old childhood nursery rhymes, changing language and societal norms or even race discrimination. But few organisations would be able to endure this kind of publicity…
What if you were the BBC?
What if it were your brand being associated with this debate?
Would this be damaging to your business?
Many organisations struggle with managing ‘stars’ who do things everyone else would get fired for. Jeremy Clarkson is not employed by the BBC. Like so many people he is not an employee of the organisation he is so publicly associated with. If he were an employee, internal rules and policies apply. If necessary disciplinary sanctions, even dismissal, are considered. But freelancers and sub-contractors are different.
If your sub-contractor or freelancer starts trashing your brand where do you stand?
Do you have a written agreement with your freelancer?
Does it deal with this sort of thing?
What rights would you have as the person whose brand is under fire if this was going on around your business?
Please complete our survey on freelancers
Please complete our anonymous survey on the types of freelancers you pay and help us research the issues around managing and contracting freelancers . Click here to start the survey. We are not collecting email addresses – just doing research. Click the link at the end of the survey and claim your copy of our Freelance Top Tips – will save you time and money. Usually onlly available as part of packages costing £100 or more…
If I had a penny for every time a manager told me that employment law prevented them from managing their staff, I would be so rich I wouldn’t need to work.
Most of the problems we deal with on our hotline stem from a failure to properly manage performance. Whether it is ‘bullying’ or problems in managing maternity leave, selection for redundancy, even half the discrimination problems we get – they all stem from a failure to:
- Design jobs people can succeed in
- Recruit people with the right skills
- Set achievable goals within that job
- Adequately resource for success
- Monitor performance and feedback
- Adjust course where needed
When we talk to employees within teams we find them saying – management won’t touch x person because they are protected by discrimination law, management don’t tackle poor performance early enough or clearly enough.
The managers say employment law stops them doing this.
Employment law is not that tricky if you know what you are doing. Some organisations are cursed with the ‘employee from hell’ but most are not. You don’t have to wait until you can’t stand it any more and then try to shoe horn ‘employment law’ into a last minute dash towards dismissal (with the replacement waiting in the wings). You can integrate the basics into a simple performance management system.
If you are struggling with manage your team (or an individual) and thinking “if employment law didn’t exist I’d…………….” now is the perfect time to start working on that problem.
Employment law is not going to stop you managing poor performance in your business if you know what you are doing.
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : www.irenicon.co.uk. You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye
Irenicon is 30 years old this year. As one of the founders, it is a good time to look back and think, how have things changed. One thing that hasn’t changed much is how ‘different’ you can afford to be at work. As a woman founding a company 30 years ago, my female co-director gave me a wonderful piece of advice “You can wear an unusually cut suit in a conservative colour, or an unusual colour in a conservative cut” She told me that while people were intrigued by people who are a little bit different, they reject people who are completely different. Having changed my wardrobe on her advice, it turned out to be true. Being a bit different makes you memorable. Being totally different makes you threatening and hard to understand. When I started out, Personnel Directors (there was no such thing as HR then) were mostly men, and Personnel Managers were mostly women. Being a young woman trying to work in the ‘male’ area of employee relations was different enough. There was no room for interesting outfits, unusual opinions or anything else. The world has moved on. I am no longer young and there is nothing remarkable about senior women in HR. However the ‘difference’ or ‘diversity’ issue (as we call it these days) has not gone away.
- Working parents have different needs to non-parents
- People of different religions and ethnicities and colour can appear different at work
- Lesbian/gay managers may prefer to remain ‘in the closet’ at work for fear it will affect their career
- Trans-gender people are only really beginning to make open progress in the workplace
All these groups can suffer at work from being different. This difference can be unmistakable, such as with colour, or something that can be disguised, such as with sexual orientation or religion. Any difference can have an effect on career progression, since it starts us off with something that may be regarded as ‘an unusually cut suit’. Some people progress further than others in the workplace by adopting a ‘conservative colour’ — that is to say by conforming with group norms in every other respect. I suspect that individuals who follow the cut/colour rule are less likely to feel discriminated against than individuals who do not. Some groups or individuals can’t or won’t do that, and this affects whether they are ‘preferred’ for advancement. It takes a bold boss to promote against the grain of the organisation’s historic culture or values, and an “unconventional suit in an unconventional colour” is the highest risk of all. For all our talk of diversity, the temptation is to want a woman who acts like a man, or a token person who ticks the ‘diversity’ boxes but really acts and thinks like everyone else in the organisation. Some people long for the days when we can all stand out in our unique and magical splendour and wear a coat of many colours (or a grey one if that is what we want to do). Until then, we may need to wear the regulation jeans, smart suit, tracksuits or whatever the ‘conventional suit’ is in our workplace. People who want to advance in the workplace still need to tailor their suit or their colours to maximise their position. Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : www.irenicon.co.uk. You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye
A recent Which? Magazine survey suggested that up to 5.1m British workers have failed to read their employment contract properly.
How many bosses don’t read or understand the contracts they are issuing?
Which? make some great suggestions about what employees should do, but what should the boss do?
1. Read your contract! Are you prepared to do all the things it says you will do (if the situation arises)? If not, you should consider changing it. Being ‘in breach of contract’ can be a big problem and making promises in writing you don’t intend to honour just documents your failure.
2. Check the handbook – If your contract refers to a handbook, make sure you read this too, as its terms will also be binding
3. Ask questions – Do you understand your contract? Are there grey bits you just ignore? Do your staff? Ask them if they have read it and know what it means – that can be a shock!
4. Issue the documents – Some bosses keep contracts in a locked drawer and don’t issue them. If they are no good, get them changed, if they are good you need them out there doing what you need them to do.
5. Keep copies of the signed terms – You may need to show someone had a copy to make sure you chase up for signed copies and keep them locked away.
This year has brought an inevitable increase in redundancy exercises as organisations of all kinds have cut back to match falling revenues.
These types of redundancy exercises are usually tactical in response to short term or local conditions. Painful as they are, they are really about ‘cutting your coat according to your cloth’.
The key thinking behind this type of exercise is around retaining people with key skills for the organisation to go forward.
The old days when bosses just decided who to keep by who they liked the look of are long gone. UK Employment law has established a legal requirement for:
- objective and relevant selection criteria
- consideration of alternatives
EU and UK laws have tightened up on redundancy consultation and although there is a move towards reducing consultation timescales for collective redundancies the fact is that many consultations improve the process and do avoid job losses (if not entirely) and others arrange more generous pay offs than the UK statutory redundancy pay.
The financial costs of such payouts can take months, even years to recoup, and the damage to morale and employer reputation of a poorly handled redundancy exercise can take years to sort out. Whilst we invest in employee engagement specialists and even ‘onboarding specialists’ to help to attract, motivate and retain key talent, this often goes out the window when we are looking at redundancy. Money itself is not always the only issue.
What are the key factors that make a good redundancy exercise when you don’t have a lot of money to throw at it? We find the quality of your communication and consultation can be decisive.
Click these links for other blogs on redundancy :
and link to this web page on Irenicon – http://www.irenicon.co.uk/Consultancy/redundancyforemployers.html
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : www.irenicon.co.uk. You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye and check our regular articles and news throughout the autumn on our blog site – https://irenicon.wordpress.com/