Even if the above statement is true, there can come a time when an employee comes to you with a grievance. The problem may be about their contract or their pay. They may have a complaint about the behaviour of a colleague. They may have a concern about changes at work or feel that they are subject to discrimination of some sort. Whatever the complaint is about, you must take it seriously and you do need to have a procedure in place to deal with it. 
As a first step, it’s ideal if you can handle any complaint informally. Formal grievance procedures should be the last resort when any other attempts to resolve the problem have failed. Speak to the employee (keep a record of your conversation) to understand their issue and look for a straightforward solution. Many issues can be quickly resolved through discussion with all involved and providing clarification where necessary. If, however, the complaint is more serious and cannot be resolved informally, then it is important to have a formal procedure that acts as a framework for resolving the issue. 
We recommend that your formal grievance procedure should include: 
• A requirement that the grievance be put in writing 
• Who the grievance should be addressed to (and an alternative in case the grievance relates to the normal contact) 
• How the grievance meeting or hearing will be conducted 
• Confirmation that the employee can be accompanied in meetings by a colleague or union representative 
• That an investigation will take place to establish the facts 
• How the decision on the outcome of the hearing will be communicated 
• That the employee may appeal the decision if they are not happy with the outcome 
• Time limits for each stage of the process 
When dealing with a grievance, follow our top tips to make sure you handle it effectively: 
1. Make sure you follow your grievance procedure; doing so will ensure consistency and that the situation is handled properly. 
2. Understand what outcome the employee raising the grievance is looking for; it may not be what you might assume. 
3. Carry out a full investigation to establish the facts. Gather all relevant evidence including emails, meeting minutes, interviewing other relevant parties, etc.. 
4. If the grievance is against another employee, invite them to a meeting where they can also be accompanied by a colleague or a union representative if they wish. 
5. Keep records – invite people to meetings in writing, have someone take minutes and communicate decisions in writing. This will protect you and your business in case of any further action or if there is any dispute about what was said in a meeting. 
6. Make sure that everyone involved in the grievance understands the procedure, knows what will happen at each stage, and the time limits. 
7. Communicate the outcome of the grievance in writing, giving full reasons for the decisions made. 
8. Identify who will hear any appeal made. Appeals should be heard by someone not previously involved in the grievance. 
Many employers tell us they’re not sure what the difference is between Unfair and Wrongful dismissal. They are both common employment law terms, although they are not interchangeable as is often thought. To avoid confusion, below we outline what each term means. 
Unfair Dismissal 
The right not to be unfairly dismissed is a statutory right. An employee earns this right after two years’ continuous service. This right can only be enforced in a tribunal and an employee cannot bring an unfair dismissal claim before they have accrued two years’ continuous service. 
The tribunal will consider if the reason for the dismissal is fair. Fair dismissal reasons are: 
The employee is unable to do their job properly 
The employee has a persistent or long-term illness that makes it impossible for them to do their job 
The employee has been made redundant 
The employee has been summarily dismissed for gross misconduct 
If continuing to employ the employee would break the law 
If it is impossible for the employer to carry on employing the worker 
Another substantial reason 
The tribunal will also examine whether the employer was reasonable in using the selected reason as grounds to dismiss the employee, and whether or not the employer followed a fair procedure. 
Where a tribunal finds that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, they will typically award a sum made up of a basic award plus compensation. This compensation will take into account future loss of earnings and other losses caused by the unfair dismissal. 
Wrongful Dismissal 
There is no statutory right not to be wrongly dismissed. Wrongful dismissal is actually a breach of contract. There is no minimum length of service applicable to wrongful dismissal.  
Wrongful dismissal can occur if an employee is dismissed without notice or without the notice period as set out in the employment contract. A wrongful dismissal claim can be heard in the County Court, the High Court or in a tribunal. 
Where it is found that an employee has been wrongly dismissed, the court or tribunal does not consider whether the dismissal was made on reasonable grounds. The decision is simply made on whether the terms of the employment contract were breached. 
If wrongful dismissal is proven, damages will be awarded. The amount awarded typically amounts to the value of pay and benefits lost by the employee during the contractual notice period. 
If you need help with a dimissal situation, or would like advice on any HR issue, contact us to discuss your needs. 
For all your HR advice and support whether in Luton, or anywhere else in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
Christmas party season is once again upon us – bringing with it the annual round of drinking, dancing and generally making merry! Make sure you’re not the one on this year’s naughty list by following our top 10 dos and don’ts for the work’s Christmas do. 
Do attend the office party, even if just for an hour or two. It shows you’re part of the team and not attending may hurt your reputation. 
Don’t dress like you’re off to the nightclub. The party is still a business function, so check out the dress code and dress appropriately. 
Do pace yourself. Don’t drink too much and try to drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. 
Don’t party on an empty stomach. Alcohol will affect you even more if you haven’t eaten and you’ll also want to pig out on the buffet. 
Do conduct yourself professionally. Remember not to gossip or spread rumours, dance on tables or snog a colleague under the mistletoe. 
Don’t sit next to the boss. Especially if you’ll be tempted to tell some ‘home truths’ that may damage your career prospects. 
Do keep your conversations positive and don’t spend the evening complaining about work. 
Don’t forget to thank the person who co-ordinated the party. 
Do pre-book your taxi or arrange your lift home, have a curfew and stick to it. 
Don’t call in sick the next day. If you follow our dos and don’ts you shouldn’t have the need to! 
If you need help on dealing with fallout from the Christmas party, or any other HR issue, contact us to discuss your needs. 
For all your HR advice whether in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
Sooner or later even the best employer is faced with an employee resignation. Employees resign for many reasons, and some are completely beyond your control. 
However, when a valued employee resigns, it’s only natural to think “I wonder what we could have done to stop them deciding to leave”. Although, even at this late stage, it is always worth exploring whether there are any opportunities to get them to stay. 
While you may be too late to save someone who has already handed in their notice, a constructive exit interview process may help you to prevent it happening in the future. An effective exit interview helps you part company on good terms and helps identify: 
• Why the employee wants to leave 
• What your organisation does well 
• Where you can make improvements 
• That the skills and experience needed for the job are set correctly 
Exit interviews are an ideal way of gathering information to help you improve your employee engagement and retention. While they should be available to any employee who is leaving, participation is entirely voluntary. The ideal time to conduct the exit interview is 2 weeks into a month’s notice period. By this time, the emotions around the resignation have settled and the employee who is leaving is not yet tied up in a busy handover. It is often the line manager of the employee who conducts the exit interview. However, if you have an HR manager/consultant, it is a good idea to use them to carry out the interview as they are typically seen as more impartial. 
Exit interviews can be conducted face-to-face, over the telephone or by written questionnaire. Face-to-face and telephone interviews allow you ask follow up questions to employee responses, which can lead to obtaining additional insights. Although some employees may be more open and honest with information if they can write down their thoughts and feelings. 
To make the exiting employee more comfortable, it helps to explain that the interview is an opportunity get their honest feedback on aspects of the company and to ask for their opinion on areas that could be improved. If you start with a friendly discussion rather than move directly into the exit questions, it will help the employee feel more at ease. 
Always try to end the meeting on a positive note. Thank the employee for their contribution and service to your company and wish them luck in their new role. 
Finally, having acquired the information from employees who decide to leave, it’s important to put it to good use. If there is feedback and guidance needed for line managers or it’s necessary to change some of the company’s procedures, don’t neglect to address any issues that have been identified. 
If you would like to find out more on exit interviews or would like help to create your exit interview process, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss it with you. 
For all your HR advice and support whether in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
The term 'onboarding' has been around for a while, but what does it mean? In essence it is the activity or process of integrating a new employee into the organisation. 
So why as an employer should you be interested and thinking about onboarding? 
Firstly, it improves retention. Recruiting a new employee is costly, more so if it is to replace an employee who has already left. There are many surveys and reports which demonstrate that if onboarding is undertaken well, it makes a new employee more likely to remain with you. Newly hired employees are nearly 60% more likely to still be with you three years later if the onboarding experience is well executed. 
Secondly, it increases productivity. There is a study which suggests that 62% of companies saw a faster time to productivity ratios when using an effective onboarding process. 
The benefits of effective onboarding are: 
• Ensuring compliance with legal requirements 
• Creating an environment the individual wishes to be a part of 
• Faster ramping up of new hires 
• Providing a consistent approach to all new employees to the organisation 
• Ensuring new employees understand the companies purpose; strategic direction; policies and procedures and general logistics of the building/company 
• Better retention of new hires 
But when does onboarding start, and when does it finish? There is no right or wrong answer here. Some organisations pride themselves that it begins with the actual advert for the role as it sets out the brand and success of the organisation. For others it is when the interview is complete. However, what is important is that onboarding commences from recruitment through their first day and beyond. 
If you would like a review of your onboarding process to ensure that it properly supports the needs your business, then contact us here at Plain Talking HR. We can ensure an effective checklist is in place and support you both before and after a new hire joins you. 
Remember also, just giving your new hire the employee handbook to read and sign at the start of employment and never referring to it, or the policies contained within it, again is not a good onboarding approach!  
You as an employer are responsible to ensure that staff are up to date and aware of policies which affect them – particularly if they change. Talk to us at Plain Talking HR for innovative and appropriate approaches to ensure your staff are up to date with changing policies and that your risks are managed. 
For all your HR advice and support in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
Deepawali or Diwali 2017 starts on 19 October and continues for five days. It is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals and is also known as The Festival of Lights. 'Deep' meaning 'light' and avali meaning 'a row' - a row of lights. Diwali for Hindus is a sacred and joyous time of the year, marked by five days of celebration illuminating the country with its brilliance and dazzling all with its joy. 
Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama from his fourteen-year-long exile and the vanquishing of the demon-king Ravana. In celebration of the return of their king, the people illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers. Diwali signifies the conquest of evil by good and is all about giving, forgiving, bringing light to darkness and unifying us with our fellow beings. 
For most Hindus in the UK, it is still THE festival. As important as Christmas is for Christians. Diwali is a time to be with family and friends, have good food, wear new clothes, exchange presents and cards, say prayers and most of all enjoy being with your loved ones. 
Here at Plain Talking HR we celebrated Diwali with some delicious Nankathai baked especially for us by Zaibun from Creative Bakes in Luton. For all your HR advice and support whether in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
10 October 2017 was World Mental Health Day. We learned that one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives. As employers, it is vital we understand what mental health is, how to promote positive mental health in the workplace and how to support an employee experiencing mental ill health.  
The World Health Organisation define mental health as "... a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." When we have positive mental health we can normally handle the ups and downs of everyday life, interact positively with others, feel confident about ourselves and engage productively with the world. 
Mental ill health can affect our thoughts and feelings and change how we see the world. Symptoms range from feeling a bit down, thoughts or feelings that are difficult to deal with, through more common issues like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, to more serious illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. 
In many cases, people's mental health problems are only temporary. However, some people suffer severe and eduring mental ill health that requires long term treatment. Either way, it's important that employers understand mental health, what it is and what it is not, how to spot mental ill health and how to manage someone experiencing it. 
ACAS have recently published comprehensive and pratical guidance on mental health for employers, which can be found on their website (directs you to an external site). 
If you would like to find out more on promoting positive mental health in the workplace, training managers and staff about mental health or making changes in the workplace to avoid causing mental ill health, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss it with you. For all your HR advice and support whether in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
The chances of one of your employees taking you to an Employment Tribunal just got significantly higher. The Supreme Court recently ruled that tribunal fees are a barrier to justice and has abolished them with immediate effect. This means that if an employee feels you've treated them badly - even if you don't believe you have - there's nothing to stop them making a claim against you. 
It's more important now than ever to make sure that robust employee policies and company procedures are in place, leaving no room for employees to raise a complaint. 
If you've dismissed somebody or are currently dealing with disciplinaries or grievances, you could be at risk if your documentation is not up to date. You should also be aware that all employment tribunal judgements will now be posted on the internet for everybody to read. 
We are here to help ensure you are protected. We can update your employee contracts and employment documentation, or support you if you're already facing a claim. Feel free to give me a call on 01582 488410 or email me bina@plaintalkinghr.com. For all your HR advice and support whether in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
Annual Employment Tribunal Statistics published (Link to external site 'Employment Essentials') 
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