David Gibson Crutes

Member Article

Come in Number 6 your time is up

Last year The Tipster was on holiday with his family. Luckily, we were located next to a beautiful lake which of course provided the option of hiring a rowing boat to take you out to a very scenic island in the middle of the said lake. Often, The Tipster together with Junior Tipster No. 1 and Junior Tipster No. 2 would observe families attempting to make the crossing. This was often a cause of amusement given that some poor parent would have to engage their physical strength for at least an hour or so before collapsing on the island only to have to undertake the same task going back. According to locals, the journey should take no more than 15 minutes but to the untrained oarsperson it clearly was a significant task.

Now it is not the case that The Tipster is tight or unwilling to engage in family activities but €4 did seem rather extravagant. Persuaded by Junior Tipster No. 1 and Junior Tipster No. 2 that the investment of €4 to keep them quiet for an afternoon could be money well invested, he eventually relented.

The Tipster, filled with confidence, given the fact that he did in his youth (some while ago) manage to row a boat for a local Rowing Club, felt confident on undertaking the task. Of course, that was sometime ago and the Tipster’s muscles were not quite up to the task in the way that he envisaged.

It may be the case that he was carrying a little bit extra weight (it being a holiday) and/or he was over confident and/or he had three other bodies in the boat with him and/or their was a raging tide but suffice to state that the 15 minute journey became a nearly 2 hour ordeal. At one stage the Tipster considered calling the rescue boats to assist him in the difficult process of fighting the lashing waves that were overcoming the bows. This could be a slight exaggeration as the 16 year old youth in the boat next to him seemed to be having no problems neither did the 84 year old grandmother or the 6 year old boy who seemed to be rowing for Great Britain. The Tipster later realised that the said lake was hosting the World Rowing Championships and possibly this was true.

This of course caused great amusement to Junior Tipster No. 1, Junior Tipster No. 2 and indeed Mrs Tipster. Not so to the Tipster of course and as he returned to the shore after the family outing (ordeal) the kindly local shouted “come in Number 6 your time is up”. They saw the funny side to it as did the rest of the family but unfortunately I did not.

Now you may think why is The Tipster rabbiting on about this, but often it is the case that somebody clearly is out of their depth, thinks they are better than they are or indeed their time is up. The Government have recently announced that they would like to deal with such situations in a clever and calculated way called the ‘protected conversation’. The Government have added a new clause to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which is going through Parliament. Essentially, the provision will only apply to unfair dismissal claims and not those in relation to discrimination or other claims such as breach as contract or automatically unfair dismissal claims (for example whistle blowing, asserting a statutory right or trade union membership). The philosophy underlying the proposal is to enable employers to have a conversation with an employee possibly regarding their performance and their future with the company and proposing an offer of settlement. This is really an attempt to give employers some flexibility once the government have rode back (pardon the pun) from the concept of no fault dismissals. But surely, I hear you exclaiming well this is a good idea. We have wanted this for years! Well, as in everything the headline sounds great but ultimately will it enable employers to work more flexibiliy with employees to ensure their departure from the company. The Tipster is doubtful. The reason for this is that it must be shown that the employer must be acting in good faith – but how is this to be defined? Furthermore, a Tribunal may still find that a conversation or behaviour of an employer may have been improper.

Once again this drafting and lack of clarification could cause problems for employers. The Tipster would still advise that if there are performance issues that a procedure is adopted and documented to ensure that employers have some record of their attempts to address problems with employees and try to solve those by working alongside the employee before a decision to dismiss is taken.

It may sound old fashioned but the current trend to try and crack a nut with a sledge hammer is not actually going to help employers in the long term. Having good performance management procedures in place and managing people properly is far more cost effective and ultimately safe than a conversation which takes place in the corridors.

Once again headline analysis should be viewed with caution…a bit like lakes and rowing boats!

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by David Gibson .

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