Common statements HR Department’s hate is “I’ve taken legal advice” or “My lawyer friend.” They are said as if the mere words themselves represent some sort of Badge-of-Honour. It also seems that everyone has a lawyer friend these days.
Does having a law degree make you a Lawyer, never mind an Employment Law Lawyer? Yes, a law degree gives you knowledge of the law, but it does not make you an expert in all fields of law. As far as I understand it you do not even have to have a law degree to become a Lawyer.
So where does all this legal advice come from? Well, Wikipedia or Google will provide you with a plethora of law phrases and verbiage to impress anyone who may want to listen to you.
The employee/employer relationship is changing now that websites dealing with employment law are readily available to browse through. However, these websites represent the “Third Person in the Bed” when employees and employers are talking.
To mitigate potential litigation, Management is often now faced with changing their minds on excellent cases for dismissal; using the benchmark ‘band of reasonable responses test’. Also consider the increases in costs to business as doubling up on Employment Law advice is now necessary as the phrase ” I’ve taken legal advice”, becomes a common statement made by employees.
Don’t get me wrong these advice lines are highly needed and provide a valuable service. But let’s get real, “I`ve taken legal advice” or “I’ve checked my rights on Google”, are two different things.
Culture is changing, slowly for now but effective
So, somewhere there is a dismissal in process, and at some point HRD or management will hear these phrases: “I’ve taken legal advice”, “My lawyer friend said…” We all know in the HR world that an employee does not have to make a prior grievance under the company’s policies and procedures before completing an Employment Tribunal claim form, right? But we have a new trend—grievances are now being made by solicitors on behalf of the employees. Are we talking about a future intent, could this be a sign of bullying, I wonder.
Is there an under-current here, perhaps the beginning of something else? Will we see Solicitors accompany employees in procedure meetings? I know this train of thought has been around for some time. Are we going to hear more about employees’ rights to have an external third party present?
What is wrong with this picture?