Ask the HR expert

The HR Dept Newcastle provides trusted advice to local companies on a range of human resources issues. Owner and director Jayne Hart explains more

At The HR Dept, we work with North East business owners in successful and growing businesses. More often than not they are frustrated at trying to keep up-to-date with employment legislation, overwhelmed by dealing with personnel issues as well as delivering their core business and worried about attracting and retaining the best employees.

Does this sound familiar? The HR Dept operates a local insured human resources (HR) advice service that employers frequently use to ask a wide selection of ‘people problems’. Sometimes they are looking for the answer, often it is reassurance that what they are doing is okay and not putting them at risk.

Some questions are straightforward, others are complex or just plain bizarre. The following is a common scenario: an employee is off sick with stress.

Business Owner: We had an informal meeting with an employee about the quality of her work but she burst into tears, ran out and has been signed off sick with stress since. What do we do?

The HR Dept: Although signed off sick from work, she can still be invited into a meeting – the stress of knowing she has to face a difficult conversation is probably making her feel worse anyway. Let’s write her a friendly letter explaining you could hold the meeting off-site if that’s easier and that you are happy for her to have a colleague with her. Emphasise this will be an informal meeting and not, at this stage, a disciplinary and that you are confident problems can be resolved.

Ultimately you may need to seek permission to go to her GP (or Occupational Health) to assess her fitness to be able to attend such a meeting and this is where we can provide ongoing local support as what begins simple gradually becomes more complex.

Jayne-hart@hrdept.co.uk

0191 594 7789

www.hrdept.co.uk 

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