Tackling problems with employees can be challenging and stressful to deal with.
When an employee complains, behaves badly, or isn't performing in line with your expectations, it's disheartening. And it can turn into a bit of an uphill struggle.
It's not always possible to prevent employee complaints or to predict how someone will react when concerns about their conduct or performance are raised. They may be quite defensive or hostile, or you may find out that they have something significant going in their life which you weren't aware of.
Sometimes, you can quickly find common ground and agree on a plan of action – for example, extra supervision or training. At other times, it may be a longer and more challenging process. You may well want more support along the way.
However complaints or concerns arise, it's crucial that you address them fairly, respectfully and in line with the law so you can protect your business from any successful claims of unfair treatment (e.g. unfair dismissal or discrimination).
To help you know how to handle employee problems the right way, we asked employment law expert Jas Dubb at Wilkes to share his knowledge – and you'll find it all in this guide!
Before we start... who counts as an employee?
It's important to note that this guide focuses on the rules and best practices of handling problems with employees of your business. If the people working with you aren't employees (perhaps you have hired workers or independent contractors/freelancers instead), then this guide won't be appropriate.
If you're not certain whether you have hired employees, workers or independent contractors/freelancers, take a look at our guide to the different types of hire.
The 4 key problem areas
This guide covers the four key areas where problems with employees may arise, providing you with comprehensive access to the materials and knowledge you'll need to handle them well:
- problems with performance
- employee sickness and absence
- employee complaints (technically called grievances)
Your first source of support with employee problems
The most important starting resource for tackling any of these areas is your staff handbook, which should contain the all-important policies – your rules if you like – on how you've decided lawfully to handle them.
These essential policies include your:
Other policy documents you may need
Other policies and processes may complement your handling of the particular problem. Your need for them will depend on the type of problem that you're facing.
If the problem relates to an employee complaint, you should also have close to hand, your:
- whistleblowing policy
- bullying and harassment policy
- equal opportunities policy, and potentially also
- modern slavery policy
If the complaint is about redundancy, you should use our guide to managing a redundancy situation instead.
Employee conduct or performance
Bullying and harrassment may also be needed in these instances as well.
Other relevant guides to these scenarios may include your
You'll find our staff handbook containing all of these policies in template format on Farillio if you don't already have them in place.
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