Getting professional help can give practice managers peace of mind when dealing with employment issues.
The HRFace2Face service offered by Peninsula was set up to complement the 24-hour Advice Service that already assists employers to run their own formal processes with staff, as well as offering general advice.
The HRFace2Face service can be used whenever it's needed, and provides one of Peninsula's employment law experts to manage an HR issue, either in part or in its entirety. With issues such as grievance or disciplinary procedures, the practice can decide whether they would like an HRFace2Face expert to attend meetings in support of the practice or to manage the matter completely.
Members told us that the guidance and documentation they already receive from Peninsula gives them an excellent basis for knowing how to conduct a meeting with an employee. However, disciplinary processes can be stressful for all involved, and we also heard that some of our members felt that they did not have enough practical experience to allow them to be confident when conducting such meetings.
This was particularly the case when the employee involved was a family member of someone else who worked at the practice, a friend or had demonstrated threatening behaviour. Using HRFace2Face lets the employer untangle themselves from the personal side of important employee meetings. Allowing a third party to hold the meeting and take the pressure off practice staff can also help free them up to continue looking after patients and the practice.
Demand for Peninsula's help at disciplinary hearings is consistently high, almost matched by grievance hearings and redundancy consultation meetings. HRFace2Face is a comprehensive service and help is available for investigation meetings, return to work interviews after a period of sickness absence, TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) consultation meetings and mediations between employees whose personal differences are interfering with the smooth running of the organisation.
Impartiality in mediation is a key element to its success, and employers often find it difficult to conduct the meeting themselves. Facilitating a meaningful discussion between two employees who don't get on is tricky, especially when the employer risks being perceived as having a vested interest. This can mean that the employees involved struggle to trust the process. If they don't feel supported during the meeting, their willingness to find a solution to the issues can be compromised. A trained, experienced mediator can make all the difference.
Practice managers have a wealth of experience in ensuring the practice operates efficiently and successfully, but they may not have the in-depth knowledge required to confidently deal with HR and employment law issues. Some formal processes involving employees require a certain structure; a particular style of questioning and experience of knowing how to ensure that all procedures are fair and lawful.
Impartiality in mediation is a key element to its success.
It is also not unknown for employees to claim that a practice manager is biased or that they have an agenda and so will not deal with a disciplinary hearing correctly (for example). The HRFace2Face service brings impartiality to the process.
The amount of information available to the general public about employment rights means that employees are more aware than ever before about their position in HR matters. Having a trained and experienced expert handle the meeting means that they will keep control, explaining in clear language to the employee how the process will be run.
Member experience of HRFace2Face
A member's self-confessed lack of experience with complicated grievances led to the successful use of the HRFace2Face service.
What issues were they faced with?
The grievance was made against the practice manager (the employee's line manager), which meant she didn't believe it was appropriate to deal with the issue, and also that there weren't enough staff members in the practice of appropriate seniority who could deal with the grievance. The member also thought that complete impartiality would be better considering the employee's history.
Why did they not choose to deal with the issue themselves?
Because the grievance was made against the practice manager (the employee's line manager), there weren't enough staff members in the practice at the appropriate level who could deal with the grievance. The member also thought that complete impartiality would be better considering the employee's complicated history of events.
How was it resolved?
None of the employee's grievances were upheld by the HRFace2Face consultant. This was because there wasn't enough evidence to show that the employee's concerns were justified, and it was found that the employee had not been singled out for unfavourable treatment.
What did they learn from it?
The practice manager accepted the report in full, telling HRFace2Face she was very pleased with the service.
The employee had been invited to the grievance hearing using letters provided by the HRFace2Face service. Peninsula's consultant attended the hearing along with a note taker supplied by the member, and the employee also brought a colleague with her, in accordance with her statutory right to be accompanied.
The consultant asked the employee to give a brief description of the background to the grievance, then asked her to go into detail about each point. The consultant also spoke to other relevant members of staff in order to get a better understanding of events. A report was then compiled with a recommendation to the member that all points of the grievance be dismissed.
For more information on HRFace2Face, call Peninsula on 0844 892 2487.
Exclusive discounted rates are available for GROUPCARE and PRACTICECARE members – see the MDU's website for more information.
Peninsula Business Services
Nicola is the employment law research consultant at Peninsula Business Services Ltd, the UK’s leading employment law and health & safety consultancy providing business assistance to over 30,000 employers.
See more by Nicola Mullineux