Top 7 Legal Mistakes Made By HR Professionals in UK

June 18, 20152:29 pm997 views
Top 7 Legal Mistakes Made By HR Professionals in UK
Common Legal Mistakes Made by HR Professionals in UK

While being a HR professional can make you feel joyous, there are some common legal mistakes made by HR professionals in UK and across the globe. This can prove to be quite expensive from the organisational point of view.

HR professionals are known to be leaders steering the course of organisational change, and helping staffers overcome challenging situations, while nurturing their careers to keep them motivated, engaged and adequately rewarded at all times.

The role of a HR which might seem to be masked with a smiley is shadowed by some common mistakes made such as – taking the wrong call on a candidate or allowing a damaging behaviour to go unchecked, which can prove to be prohibitively expensive.

In United Kingdom, the average cost awarded at an employment tribunal is £12,148, while the British Chambers of Commerce quotes the average cost of an employer defending themselves at tribunal at £8,500. The top seven legal mistakes made by HR professionals in UK are as enlisted below:

  1. Avoid Difficult Performance Conversations

If you are not able to justify the numbers and performance of a staff member, then it’s better to keep your counsel to safeguard your own interests.

Sometimes saying “too much” about an employee’s performance can create legal problems of its own, hence HR managers in UK tend to give subtle clues often out of fear and employees do not get the message right first time unless explained clearly. It is in best interest to not clearly articulate your concerns, for it can be a short cut to a later legal quagmire.

  1. Presuming maternity way too early (even if its non-existing without confirmation)

Sometimes bosses clam up if they first spot a tell-tale baby bump on the staff member and presume pregnancy way too early. Especially employers face high-profile tribunal cases for not using common wisdom, that you cannot make a staffer redundant when she is on maternity leave.

Excluding those on maternity leave from going redundant, can also result in another sex discrimination claim.

Beverley Sunderland of Crossland Employment Solicitors said, “Women on maternity leave (and men on shared parental leave) who have been made redundant (or if their role has become obviously redundant) do have some enhanced rights over other at-risk workers: there is no obligation for them to interview competitively for a suitable vacancy, and can simply be placed into an alternative role.”

  1. Harassment cases are expensive

Cases of harassment to staffers are undoubtedly expensive for companies. Not calling out on the harassment at its onset and managers tolerating sexist or racist behaviours at the workplaces normally invite such trouble in future.

See: Leadership vs Management: Understanding the Difference

  1. No proper consultation during redundancy negotiations

No proper consultation during redundancy negotiations or TUPE transfer has the potential to be one of the costliest errors made by a HR in the workplace. “If you fail to consult at all, or not for long enough, all those affected (not just those in the redundancy or transfer pool) can make a claim.”

Where employers fail to consult appropriately in a transfer situation, TUPE law in UK provides for a maximum award of 13 weeks’ pay. This ensures that there is due time to consult in the short term which could save a great deal in the long run.

  1. Stay off the workplace ‘banter’

While it may not sound realistic to stay off all the workplace banter, it is the duty of a manager to enforce workplace standards and monitor them from time to time.

Sometimes too many employers allow for a far too informal workplace culture, and this could result in promoting banter as a habit among staffers at the work space.

Discrimination claims in particular typically attract the highest compensation amount, hence coaching managers to nip banter in the bud can help organisations save on the six-figure sum.

  1. Wrong Investigations

HR managers should be wary of details into the disciplinary process that go into investigation. They need to follow the best practices into investigation and keep an open minded approach by not looking for verification on what other staffers are saying or corroborating evidence in certain cases.

  1. Going abusive at work

HR managers need to be alert and be wary of what they say, when they address employees individually for performance reviews. Delicate situations such as bidding someone farewell or discussing redundancy should be dealt carefully with a pre-determined set of bullet points, well worded to avoid unintended consequences.

Texts and conversations convey different things to different people, with an added consideration that they leave a readymade audit trail that can be used as evidence in the court of law. Hence emails addressing sensitive issues should be carefully worded to not communicate any wrong intent, even subtly for that matter.

To conclude

Through careful understanding of the procedures and timely appropriate intervention, HR professionals can stay out of the dock and avoid the most common legal mistakes in UK workplaces.

Also read: 8 Reasons HR Failed the Change Management

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