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EMPLOYER HELPLINE

Tel: 07734 701221

INTRODUCTION

It’s true.  An old cliche states that ‘the most important assets within your organisation are your staff ‘ – Human Resources. We entirely agree and it is our business to help you maintain a happy and effective workforce. We have a wealth of employment law expertise and are regarded as lleading experts in conflict and conflict resolution.

For a re-cap of our comprehensive range of services, see our Expertise and Experience section.

INVESTIGATIONS

One of the most fundamental ways in which we can support you, and our main area of expertise, is in the arena of Conflict Resolution.  We specialise in the arena of  Disciplinary and Grievance Investigations, including  those occasions where there are problems with people working in teams or entire departments or where an allegation of  ‘Collective Bullying’ has been made.  It is not uncommon for an employee Grievance to be signed by more than one employee.   In view of this, we have dedicated a whole section to Independent Workplace Investigations.

Call us for further information or read on:

We want to take the pressure off your shoulders. A Grievance and Disciplinary investigation, Capability, Conduct & Absence Management processes – and a range of other conflicts at work, all need to be carefully managed.  As a crucial part of the service we provide from HR & Diversity Management (HR&DM), Investigations into alleged bullying in the workplace, sexual harassment and/or discrimination allegations are the most significant.  In some cases, an employee will simply object to a particular style of management.  A daunting prospect for any line manager !

Both employees and employers see benefit from a third party Bullying at the Workplace investigation. Trade Unions, line management and Company Solicitors see third party bullying investigations positively, since in-house investigations have a perceived bias which is very difficult to overcome when a disgruntled employee makes a formal allegation.

An independent, third-party, investigation is impartial and often provides the employer with fresh solutions. HR&DM Bullying and Harassment investigations are based on a tried and tested model (a formula which is the copyright of HR&DM). We have been investigating issues of this nature – and advising management on issues of this nature, for over a decade. We always seek to determine the cause of Bullying & Harassment and to establish whether allegations are founded and to look at ‘the bigger picture’ – ie: the culture, performance, turnover of staff, patterns, procedures etc. If it is a definite case of one person who is an out and out workplace bully, so be it. The bully may need a level of training to establish whether or not the situation is in any way recoverable. If the bully is not receptive to change or if he/she does not acknowledge their position, formal action may be necessary. To ignore such an attitude and/or conduct is non-productive – particularly in an ever-changing world of employment legislation. Often, an investigation will uncover working practices which have crept into the workplace, but which are unacceptable.

We really do understand what is required. We keep informed of ever changing employment law and case law. In every case, we will seek consent from those participating in the process. Our Report & Recommendations documentation are comprehensive and have been described as ‘thorough’, ‘gripping’, ‘spot on’! This very important document will enable all the parties to move on. Amicable resolutions are sought in every case wherever possible. Mediation is always considered. Performance management, capability and conduct are carefully and sensitively documented. Training needs will be identified and addressed. Occasionally, an exit strategy will need to be considered also.

Our Investigators are all trained and experienced. Whilst most of our clients seek confidentiality, quite understandably in the circumstances, we are able to provide testimonials upon request.

We can help you resolve your workplace problems by investigating the base issues and recommending solutions. It is a far less expensive solution than litigation.  To speak to one of our advisers, Telephone: 07734 701221.

WHAT IS A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Formerly known as Compromise Agreements, a Settlement Agreement is a ‘Without Prejudice’ and legally drawn up Agreement that both employer and employee sign and enter into a  mutually agreeable contract and part company amicably – as part of an exit strategy. 

By stating that it is a ‘Without Prejudice’ document you stating that what follows cannot normally be used against you in court as you do not admit liability for the purposes of any subsequent legal proceedings (See below).  The entire approach tends to be used where an employer wants an employee to leave the workplace quickly and under mutually agreed terms and/or where the parties acknowledge that the working relationship has come to an end but neither party wants to go through a risky, costly, lengthy and/or  formal process.

It is a ‘shaking of hands and an amicable, prompt, parting’ of ways.  Call 07734 701221 for confidential advice.

Note: We are a Claims Management Regulated Company (CMR 40033).  We are able to offer Claims Management services.

WHAT IS WITHOUT PREJUDICE (Legal Definition).

Without Prejudice is a law phrase meaning ‘without abandonment of a claim, privilege or right’ and ‘without implying an admission of liability’.  It is often used when a document or letter is labelled ‘without prejudice’ meaning that what follows cannot be used as evidence in a court case, cannot be taken as the signatory’s last word on the subject matter and cannot be used as a precedent.  Contents of such documents normally cannot be disclosed to the courts but, when a party proposes to settle a dispute ‘out of Court’ it is the genuineness of the effort that determines whether the proposal can be disclosed or not and not whether the words without prejudice were used.  When a court case is dismissed, or a court order is issued ‘without prejudice’ it means that a new case may be brought or a new order issued on the same basis as the dismissed case or the original order.

A WITHOUT PREJUDICE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

A Without Prejudice Settlement Agreement is often drawn up where there has been a dispute between the employee & employer and/or as part of a redundancy process.   Senior Directors within organisations tend to adopt this approach where there are simply clashes of opinion in the Board Room regarding the future of the organisation, or where there a conflict of interest has arisen and the parties agree to part company amicably.  

It is a lawful and common-sense approach to parting company  professionally and with no malice, within the business world.

First, the employee (or their representative) wishing to leave the organisation  may be invited into an “off the record” discussion at which an employer may raise the prospect of a compromise agreement or severance agreement.  To make this approach attractive to the employee, the employer is often willing to pay a sum over and above the minimum payment (ie: statutory notice pay), to ensure that an employee is motivated to leave employment quickly. quietly and under the mutually agreed terms. 

Once an agreement is reached, in return, the employee agrees that s/he will not bring a future legal claim against the employer (except a claim relating to personal injury or pension) and nor is s/he able to ‘bad mouth’ the employer or bring them to disrepute.  The terms of the settlement are confidential too.  For all these reasons, the tight constraints surrounding the process, is often described as a ‘gagging clause’.  That said, it is an extremely affective and popular means of resolving employment disputes, parting company and moving on professionally – with little or no risk to either the business or the credibility of the parties involved.

The process itself is not always straightforward. More importantly a compromise agreement is not binding unless an employee receives expert advice from, for example, a specialist in employment law.

HOW WE  CAN HELP

Call us on 07734 701221 or email admin@hrdiversity.co.uk for further information.

CHANGING TERMS & CONDITIONS – January 2012

Changing Ts & Cs no longer has to be crucial to the business.  One helpful point was identified in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the case of Garside and Laycock v Booth.  Simply, the change the employer makes does not have to be crucial to the survival of the business. 

The EAT explained that when tribunals decide cases about changing terms and conditions their focus should be on the reasonableness of the employer’s decision, not the reasonableness of employee’s actions or refusal to accept it.  It also made some helpful comments about what should be taken into account when considering “reasonableness”, stressing that this should be determined “in accordance with equity” (as required by the Employment Rights Act 1996).  Factors such as whether management had also taken a pay cut and the process which had been followed may well be relevant.  Make sure you follow change management guidelines.  Consult with your staff. Put the proposal to a vote – where practical. The fact that you will apply the cut to everyone should also help.

If you are going through a ‘change’ process and are up against some staff resistance, call us on 07734 701221.  I feel sure we can assist – so please don’t struggle. 

OTHER HELPLINES

ACAS : 0300 123 1100

Citizens Advice : 0905 914 6519 (£1.53 per minute)

The National Bullying Helpline : 0845 22 55 787

Employment Law Solicitors in your area

Victim Support : 01380 729476

Samaritans : 0845 790 9090