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Thread: Employer’s Rights

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    Question Employer’s Rights

    I am a fairly new employer, employing up to 3 employees. From the very start of my business I have been doing all I can to do things by the book - contracts drawn up by professionals and explained when employing; policies and procedures in place; basic terms of employment met; fair treatment and payment etc. etc.

    So I am totally aware that employees have their rights and we have to honour them.

    However, I am at my wits end with regards to the general disrespect and disregard by employees for these contractual terms and company policies, specifically when it comes to giving notice and resigning. I am all for moving on in your career but if an employee just walks out or informs you that they intend to leave within a week, despite breach of contract wrt notice period, it actually costs my business money not only in terms of the time I have to spend to find a replacement on such short notice, but also paying for a casual stand-in until I can find a longer term replacement. As it’s such a small business, this is extremely harmful to my business - every employee plays a key role.

    As I understand it, there’s nothing I can do but I to prove AWOL, abscondment or dessertion and then a formal dismissal, with of course all the correct salary payouts etc. Then I may have a civil case, but only if the employee owes me money?

    My actual question here is, what can we as employers do to protect ourselves since contracts and warnings about disciplinary action and dismissal are simply ignored? I have looked everywhere but it really seems as though employers only have responsibilities and no rights, while there are no repercussions for employees.

    I would like to be able to recuperate costs in terms of company time spent and money spent to replace the employee on short notice, paying for professional advice and the business suffering due to and understaffed situation, from the employee that left. I would like to send him/her an invoice for this and send the inevitable unpaid invoice to a debt collector and work this into my company policy... What on earth else are we as small business owners and employers to do?!

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    Do you really want to keep an employee at their post against their will?

    You're right, of course - it is all too easy for an employee to abandon their post without consequence to them-self and with harmful consequence to the employer and other employees. However, how much more harmful might it be for such an irresponsible person who has so little regard for their obligations to continue in their post.

    Stop wasting time and energy trying to recover the damage from the departing employee. Rather deploy that energy where it will actually make a difference - finding the best way to replace them; be that finding a better replacement, or tweaking the business system.

    The ex-employee has given you the opportunity to make a change - make the most of that opportunity.

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    Arrow Employer's Rights - reply

    Hi Dave, thank you for your reply.

    Agreed regarding the opportunity this affords me to get a better employee and improve the way we do things.

    If I were a bigger company and I had more employees to back each other up, I would not worry about keeping someone employed who does not want to work for me as I do agree that a disgruntled employee can cause harm. However, with such a small business and my particular situation it's not that easy to find a proper replacement easily and quickly, so when this happens it truly disrupts my whole business, wastes my time and costs money (leave pay etc. that must be paid out unexpectedly and not in that month's already very tight budget etc.) and I just feel that there should be consequences for this kind of behaviour in general.

    I have been speaking to many small business owners in various industries and every one of them has had this kind of experience. If there are any tips out there on how to gauge the actual integrity of a potential employee in the 30-90 minutes you spend with them in a 1st and 2nd interview, I would love to hear it.

    Skills can be taught but good character, respect for the fact that an employer treats you fairly and wants to do the right thing and general integrity, seems to be quite another thing.

    I have subsequently added an addendum to my contracts which implies a penalty to moneys to be paid out to the employee on leaving, should the right procedure and period of notice not be given and this is clearly explained to new employees. This is the only way I could find to legally ensure that employees actions in this regard actually have consequences, just like there are consequences for my actions as an employer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bfree View Post
    If there are any tips out there on how to gauge the actual integrity of a potential employee in the 30-90 minutes you spend with them in a 1st and 2nd interview, I would love to hear it.

    Skills can be taught but good character,.
    Depending on the person you are employing , I find that inquiring on his parents employment , length of service etc with a company gives me an idea as to his upbringing which generally points me in a direction.
    If the parents move jobs every year the kids have been brought up to think that is normal practice.
    Does not work every time but I have found it generally works for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bfree View Post
    ...if an employee just walks out or informs you that they intend to leave within a week, despite breach of contract wrt notice period, it actually costs my business money not only in terms of the time I have to spend to find a replacement on such short notice, but also paying for a casual stand-in until I can find a longer term replacement. As it’s such a small business, this is extremely harmful to my business - every employee plays a key role.
    ...
    My actual question here is, what can we as employers do to protect ourselves ....
    ... What on earth else are we as small business owners and employers to do?!
    Although I realise you'd probably prefer a legally binding solution to prevent the losses when an employee suddenly leaves (which unfortunatley I can't suggest), here's something we've found to work, at least to tide us over when there are gaps.

    Try to build up a list of good people on whom you may call if there's a sudden, unexpected gap. If you have such a pool, you can at least minimise the damages caused by suddenly having one employee too few. Diligently keep your list up-to-date, with several ways to contact the person, and send them a message every second month, just to say hi and ask them how they're doing.

    This pool of emergency temporary employees can be built from:
    1. Your former employees: not the ones who left you in the lurch, but anyone who worked well, and whom you trusted, and who left for some perfectly reasonable reason, having given proper notice (or, if you ran into financial difficulties, whom you had to let go, with regret). The one you thanked and were sad to see them go, and in whose reference you wrote that you regret their leaving and recommend them and would be glad to employ them again if the opportunity arose.

    2. Your most trusted friends and family members who don't actually want to work for you because they've got a separate life, or because they live too far away, or because your field is not theirs, but who will, if you really need them, jump in and do whatever they can, just for a few hours or a few days max, to help you keep your business afloat. You can even put some of these people on a payroll, but on an hourly rate, on call only by arrangement, which means you owe them nothing until they do come to rescue you. And then you pay them. That helps to compensate them for their inconvenience at having to run when you call, and it also keeps the friendships and family relationships clean, delineated and fair.

    3. Your current employees may know someone who'd be ready to come in just for a short burst, to help bridge gaps.

    4. If your business is of the kind that collaborates with other small businesses of aligned fields, and if your reputation is impeccable, it is sometimes possible to employ another company's employee, on a part-time basis for this purpose, as long as you do this completley transparently, checked with the other employer, (so there's no poaching of each other's employees) and all above-board and registered. Depending on your field of work, this can be a mutual relationship with, perhaps, a strong employee of yours having a second, part-time job with the other business, to help out with their emergency gaps.

    5. Think back to people with whom you trained for the job you're doing now, and with whom you have formerly worked. Class-mates, teachers, former employers, former colleagues, former trainees of yours, perhaps any who are now retired, or employed or running their business in a different town or in a different field. You could contact them and ask them how they bridge unexpected gaps, and whether they'd be prepared to have their phone numbers on your list, in case you needed to bridge an unexpected gap, suddenly.


    In some cases, such temporary employees are always just that, but it's good to be able to call on them. In other cases, such as friends and family members of yourself, or former colleagues, or colleagues of your current employees, such temporary spurts of employment can also give you a chance to test an employee to see whether he/she might, at some later stage, be someone you would like to employ permanently.

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    Hi. What is the min notice period?
    5or10 days? So he owes you the min days or the wages thereof.
    Alot of people put the min "in" and expect max "out".
    Just saying.

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