The truth is not always obvious

by | Jun 29, 2015 | Disciplinary & Dismissal, Health & Safety

Employers frequently are faced with, what looks like an obvious issue, but it is not always so obvious.  And they get frustrated with employees who are presenting many or all of the following issues:

  1. Frequently late
  2. Not paying attention to detail
  3. Drop off on performance
  4. Frequently calling in sick, particularly on Friday’s and Monday’s
  5. Poor team work

In most cases it is purely laziness/boredom and what the employee needs is a disciplinary warning.

However, the following two cases show a different outcome:

Case 1

Sally had been with the company for about 2 years, during the first year her performance was great, but over time it had started to slide.  She was displaying all of the above issues, and so was invited to a disciplinary meeting.

It transpired that, when Sally had started, 2 years ago, she was a solo mum with a 6 month old daughter.  Because she was worried this may harm her chances of getting the job she hadn’t admitted it.   Fast forward 2 years and she has a toddler who she is not coping with, and the baby daddy had custody every second weekend (coinciding with the Mondays that she was frequently calling in sick because she had a hangover from partying!).

The outcome was that she did get a disciplinary warning for the calling in sick with a hangover.  However, we were also able to make arrangements to help her better manage her childcare.  I.e. later starts to better coincide with the day care.


Case 2

After about 5 years great service, the last 6 months had seen a dramatic change in Fred’s behaviour.  So he was invited to a disciplinary meeting.

At the meeting Fred broke down.  He had been diagnosed with terminal Kidney failure about 6 months earlier, and his only hope was a transplant.  The frequently calling in sick coincided with his dialysis treatment which was really knocking him for six.

For Fred work was the only place he was “healthy”, all his friends and family were treating him like he might drop dead tomorrow.  So he hadn’t wanted anyone to know the truth at work until it was absolutely necessary.

Obviously they didn’t give Fred a warning!!  However, the unplanned absences, and poor attention to detail did create pressure on the rest of the team.  So we moved Fred to a slightly different project based role which meant that if he wasn’t there others didn’t have to pick up his workload.  We also arranged for him to be able to work from home on days when he was not so up to it.  And they did this without having to tell any of his colleagues the truth about what was going on.

Fred got the transplant and made a full recovery!

Never presume what the outcome will be.  Find out the facts and then make decisions with the HRtoolkit tools!

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