There is a fair amount of debate around whether businesses need an in-house HR function or should they be seeking support from an outside HR consultancy. If the decision is the latter, choosing the right outsourced HR company is important for both parties involved, the provider you choose must hold the relevant industry accreditations – CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and have proven experience in areas of HR that are relevant to your business needs/ requirements.
Situations in which the correct outsourced HR provider is not fully researched could result in further issues for your company.
A care worker fired over a misunderstanding with a pottery class booking was dismissed and was unfairly handled by the outsourced HR provider. Mrs Gough who worked for East Midlands Crossroads – Caring for Carers helped to run activities for disabled clients as part of her role. One activity which was included in this was a weekly pottery painting class.
According to CIPD, in July 2016, Gough was told by her line manager that the supplier would be unable to send somebody to run one of the classes to which Gough suggested that she would drive to the supplier to pick up the materials needed and her line manager consequently agreed.
When Gough arrived at the suppliers, she was told that the classes where not making economic sense, as it was a long journey to the day centre and the turnout for the classes was low. To which she responded ‘there would need to be a way to change the classes, but the supplier would need to speak to the person who had initially booked them. The pottery supplier did not turn up for the next fortnight’s worth of lessons.’
It also became clear that Gough was asked to invite a former worker to a colleague’s leaving party which subsequently was done by text.
After discussions with the pottery painting supplier, Gough was summoned to a disciplinary meeting. She was alleged to have ‘told the supplier not to bother sending their own representative going forward. It was also alleged that she had invited a small group of current and former staff to a party that the day centre might not have insurance for.’
According to the CIPD, the disciplinary meeting was scheduled to take place two days later but, this was postponed because Gough had arranged to be on holiday.
She was called by her employer while she was out with her family and it transpired that the disciplinary hearing had been booked for that day which Gough had not been informed of.
Asking whether she would consider doing the disciplinary hearing by telephone, Gough declined however the meeting continued without her. This involved an outsourced HR consultant and it was decided that she should be dismissed, on the grounds that she had caused confusion and had created a safety risk by inviting people to a leaving party and had caused the day centre ‘reputational damage’
Subsequently, Gough appealed to the court on the grounds of unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal. The conclusion reached was that through an investigation that was “wholly inadequate even when judged through the prism of the range of reasonable responses test”
Gough was awarded £4,466 for unfair dismissal and £784 for wrongful dismissal. Carers Trust East Midlands was also told to pay Gough’s tribunal fees of £1,200.
The wrong decision to offer a disciplinary meeting via telephone and not rearrange the hearing when declined could have been avoided by carefully choosing the outsourced HR provider and ensuring they were fully qualified to deal with the situation. For further information you can read our blog on Is HR going from in-house to outsourced?
We understand that disciplinary action against staff can be challenging for any manager especially if the person involved has worked with you for many years. That is why involving a trained third party can enable you to deal with the matter objectively and in line with the current employment law.
If you would like more advice on how to deal with a disciplinary, check out our blog on ‘Dos and Don’ts of Disciplinary’ or call one of our CIPD accredited consultants for a confidential discussion on 01223 855441.