The Coalition Employment Relations Minister, Edward Davey, announced towards the end of last year that he plans to change employment law to allow employers to hold “protected conversations” with employees and he plans to go out for consultation on this proposed new practice shortly.
The idea behind this is that it should enable employers to talk to their staff about such matters as poor performance or retirement plans in an ‘open way’ without the fear that it will be used against them in The Employment Tribunal. The Minister believes that this will help those employers who feel afraid to have sensible discussions with employees about sensitive but vital issues to start a dialogue.
Heaven help us! What most of us want from government is a reduction in red tape not another complication. I can just imagine another 20,000 employment tribunal claims with lawyers arguing what is a protected conversation and blow the real merits. I was taught many years ago that you cannot hide behind the law; just as sweeping dirt under the carpet eventually creates a bump which will trip you up.
So my New Year resolution is not to wait for the prospect of having some private conversation which you don’t believe will cause you a problem but to take courage and operate on the SAS principle “who dares wins”. This is the only sensible way forward. If you talk to one of your staff who you believe is not performing it can only be a real and honest discussion and a way forward has to be found whether that is positive such as re-training, new targets, extra time to perform etc. or negative including job transfers, demotion, disciplinary action which could lead to dismissal etc.
Good managers do not need the law to help them manage successfully. The law may require certain procedures to be followed but it doesn’t tell you to forget about difficult matters. Directors and managers have responsibilities to manage the business to the best of their ability and often to meet criteria laid down by shareholders and other stakeholders. So don’t wait for another legal parchment, just get on with managing your business.
Wishing all readers a very happy and prosperous New Year
Dr Hugh Billot
Director HR GO (Recruitment) Limited
HR GO Recruitment offers solutions to all your staffing needs, temporary and permanent, please call 0845 130 7000