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Annie Hayes



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HR Practitioner’s Diary: Standards … continued


Getting wise!
One client has asked me to make their contracts, policies and procedures more robust to protect them against potential tribunal claims. This is off the back of them recently enduring a protracted, expensive case in terms of their time in preparation and legal costs. The claimant fortunately withdrew a few days prior to the hearing, but the resulting cost to my client was in the region of £12,000, although, as it turned out, they had done nothing wrong and their defence was very strong.

Changes in legislation in respect of grievance and disciplinary procedures would appear to have contributed to a sharp drop in the number of tribunal cases occurring in 2005. Interestingly a report by the EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation and one of the UK’s leading providers of employment law services) has revealed a significant increase in the number of claims withdrawn by the claimant before the hearing date, more than double the number from 2004.

The EEF believe the fall in the number of cases may be due to a combination of reasons:

  • More effective use of dispute resolution and employment tribunal procedures.

  • A greater awareness on the part of employers of the need to follow proper procedures through awareness campaigns and expert advice and guidance.

Of the cases that head to tribunal, 47% were withdrawn in 2005 compared to 23% in 2004. Claims settled prior to a hearing were a staggering 90% compared to 77% in 2004. Only 2% of claims were upheld by a tribunal, the majority of settlements and tribunal awards remaining relatively low.

I believe the more that companies become aware of these types of statistics it will only help to encourage them to be more responsible in terms of their policies and procedures. Hopefully it may then discourage the ‘claim culture’ amongst dissatisfied employees. We may even see a reduction in the number of lawyers offering ‘no win, no fee’ deals to claimants as, at last, the tide is turning and the tribunals only want to concentrate on essentially worthy claims where employers have truly flaunted employment law.

Unfortunately my client learnt the hard way, but after a serious overhaul of their policies and procedures, I will be able to help them to reduce the risk and potential cost in the future.

To be qualified or not – that is the question?
“Over 50% of senior and Board level HR professionals believe that it was operational experience and business exposure rather than academic or profession qualifications that helped them progress their careers. What’s more, 80% would not consider studying for further qualification”.

I’d be interested to receive your comments regarding this statement I recently came across. These were the findings from a survey conducted by Strategic Search and Selection.

It was clear that the majority of HR professionals have academic qualifications, though they only really use them when setting out on their career ladder early on in their development. Commercial skills and experience are cited as major contributors when evolving into the higher HR grades of managers and directors.

As a result of this information it is believed that organisations should offer greater exposure to their HR teams/professionals to different parts of the business. Exposure to as many areas of a business as possible gives a fuller understanding, it then increases the ability to align the relevant HR initiatives to meet the commercial objectives. The ability to do this can make a real difference to an organisation’s commercial success and ultimately increase the HR professional’s credibility.

By working to the above ethos, I have gained my own experience and expertise, which has enabled me to have a far greater impact on businesses than many HR professionals ever have the opportunity of in their entire careers. The greatest effect has been the ability for me to know how my own business as a HR consultant and my clients knowing that they are getting true value as I make a point of wanting to understand how their business bolts together, not just how their contracts etc are worded.

Go on, be bold, roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. Convince your peers that it is in their interest to untie your shackles and let you loose on the commercial field. It makes HR much more interesting!

How many of you are being held back because your bosses are not ‘pro HR’, because they simply see HR as a necessary evil best placed in a pokey corner office where you don’t interfere any more than you have to?

This HR professional is starting to think of her holidays after 12 months of hard work setting up the business, so I’ve been gathering brochures for golfing holidays and am just hoping to get the time to fit a break in-between an ongoing busy work schedule.

Vital Stats:

  • Weight: 9st 2lbs (a total loss of 1 stone, 2lbs in 12 months – hurrah!)

  • Chocolate: did succumb to a chocolate moment, but ended up with heartburn – not worth it!

  • Wine: still sticking to six units per week, but did enjoy champagne and salmon sandwiches with a friend for lunch the other day!

  • Cider: one half pint after a splendid game of golf on the hottest day of the year so far – lovely!

  • Boyfriends: two dates – both fun, but no real potential!
    First date: Glenn (potential toy boy indeed) – what a delight! The chemistry here is scintillating. The eye contact is so direct and intense, it makes my insides flip. Thing is, it would very probably only be a one off exciting ‘fling’ – not sure if I’m daring enough, but I suppose if it’s good enough for the likes of Demi Moore, Joan Collins etc then maybe I just might be a little more spontaneous! He is certainly making an older woman (me) very happy at the moment!

  • Second date: Peter – a well meaning friend set me up with a blind date! First one ever in my entire dating life and I think it will be my last! Peter was a gentleman and very polite to start with but he soon started talking about his ex and he showed an amazing ability to be very bitter and vindictive about her. I heard the alarm bells i.e. if he could talk about her in that way, what does that say to me about the ‘core’ man? Me thinks there’s not a whole lot of love in him as he hasn’t moved on. Bye, bye buddy!

Deep thoughts – life’s too short, you have to enjoy what you can, when you can … now, where’s Glenn’s number!!

Keep it simple!

*Sue Kingston is a self-employed HR Consultant with 24 years HR experience. Sue can be contacted on T: 07966 216561 or at [email protected]

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Annie Hayes


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