Sometimes employee or employer rights don’t always align with what’s reasonable. HRM looks at some recent employee relations issues, and requests your help to get to the bottom of them.
We recently spent some time lurking in Ask A Manager, a popular blog run by US-based management consultant Alison Green, to find out what HR-themed quandaries have been troubling employers and employees alike.
1. “My employee acts like he’s the boss”
This complaint originated from a recently promoted new manager who beat out a colleague for the position, yet the rival doesn’t appear to have received the memo. While on the surface he appears to have gracefully accepted defeat, he has been encroaching on the new manager’s territory. For example, he assumes control in meetings with subordinates by sending out minutes and assigning action points to the team prior to approval.
The new manager wants to know how to address this issue with their colleague without coming off as aggressive.
Ask A Manager suggests nipping it in the bud right away by shutting down any interruptions in team meetings and addressing the intrusions by instructing the colleague to focus on his own work and leave the managerial duties alone.
2. “I found out my employee is job searching”
Except… not from the horse’s mouth. This manager heard from a loose-lipped former intern that one of their employees was actively hunting for a new position. While the manager concedes that said employee is not exactly a shoe in for the role, there are some functions she performs very well, and overall, it would be a loss to the team if she left.
Now, the manager would be ok with her moving on if that’s what she wants, and would happily provide a positive reference, but is unsure what to do in the interim. What if she takes a while to find a new job? Should the manager invest time and effort in trying to get them to improve on the weak points?
Ask A Manager says that unfortunately that is the kind of information you just have to sit on. The employee is entitled to privacy, and is perfectly allowed to shop around for options. While it would be nice to know what the employee plans to do, it’s not the managers business unless the employee makes it so.
3. “How much detail do you have to share when you call in sick”
This employee’s new manager has requested to know, in detail, why staff are calling in sick – whether it’s diarrhoea or depression. The employee does, in fact, suffer from clinical depression, and doesn’t feel comfortable to say they are using up legally entitled sick leave to take a mental health recovery day.
Ask A Manager points out that while it’s legally viable for an employer to know why staff are sick, it is not always reasonable. In Australia, the Fair Work Act says employees need to provide evidence that “would satisfy a reasonable person to substantiate the reasons for the leave”. However, the Fair Work Act also stipulates that this right should be exercised reasonably.
Before you get too worked up about absenteeism, refer to our recent article about the real cost of “sickies”.
HRM would love to know if you have recently dealt with any of the discussed issues, and how you went about addressing them. Please email us on HRM Editor if you would like to contribute a suggestion about how to handle any of these HR pickles.