Each week, Peninsula Business Services invite business owners, finance directors and senior management to take advantage of our national program of FREE Employment Law and Health & Safety Webinars.
With over 30 years as the largest employment law consultancy, Peninsula Business Services Ltd brings you some of their tricks of the trade and knowledge of how to stay ahead of employment law and protect your business.
HR expert Amanda Chadwick will provide you with an informative webinar and discuss the most problematic areas of employment law for employers.
Contact Peninsula online for advice on this issue, or call us on 0844 892 2772 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
It does make sense. This is one thing I say before I start going on about policies, procedures and documentation. It makes sense that the advice that you get is conducive to the contracts, policies and procedures. So if you never hear my voice again, you never speak to me again, you never listen to my webinars again, remember that as a manager, as H.R., as an employer, as a trustee, when you’re taking advice about something within your business, you make sure that they have seen your contracts when giving you advice because already, you could breach your own contracts.
Okay. So let’s have a look at this photograph. I’ve put another picture up here for the moment, but how many rights does a new starter have from day one? Well, if you take me on day one, I’ve just walked into your company; I’ve got over 80 rights from day one now.
That’s over 80 rights the minute I walk through your door and sit in within your business. Those are statutory rights written in stone. They don’t need description anywhere. So we’ve already got 80 rights the minute I walk through your door. And what I do here is I put up another picture of myself. Not because I love myself, but if you’re like that. I do it so you can print it off to scare your neighbours and burglars off with that photograph. I’ve put it up there because I look like your average British white worker, don’t I? So what do you know about me? I’ve just started within your business. I’m your new starter. I’m your new assistant, or I might be somebody working in manufacturing, I might be working in construction. I’m your new starter.
You think you know everything about me by looking at me, and how long did it take you to interview me?
Would you be surprised if I told you that on average, people take 15 minutes of their lives to interview a member of staff? That’s before they make the decision of taking them on. So you sit down with somebody, you ask them some question, you interview them on average 15 minutes before you take that massive step to allow them into your business. And as I said, I’ve got over 80 rights the minute I’ve walked through your door. As an employer, as a manager, as a trustee, as a person that runs a business, if you started worrying about all those rights, you’d have white hair, you’d be stressed as anything, and you wouldn’t get any work done. So what I’m going to do at this point is tell you a little bit about me. I don’t make it up. I’m telling you this real, as a person, a little bit about me because this is going to make you, from now on, use the documents that I am going to recommend that you use. Okay?
Look at that picture. I’m a working mother of four children. I am a grandmother of two, nearly three. There’s one cooking, it’s on its way. I’ve got nearly three grandchildren, four children. They’re all mine, okay? And I’m deaf. You can’t see that by looking at me. I’ve got total hearing loss on one side and I’ve got 40% hearing loss on the other, and it’s deteriorating. I also have a medical condition which requires me to take medication three times a day, which you can’t see by looking at me. I used to be rated the third strongest woman in the U.K. back in the ’80s. I used to power lift, and I’m still very strong. I can still lift a washing machine, so any of you that say a woman can’t do a job. I know I’m exceptional, but I’m telling you that because you might look at me and think that I’m a woman and I couldn’t particularly do a job. And a lot of employers make the mistake of saying that to somebody’s face. I don’t want you to say that to somebody’s face.
Also, to tell you a little bit about my family. I’m one of seven children, and I’ve got an adopted Indian brother who’s Hindu. I’ve got a sister who’s an artist, an activist, and a Buddhist who’s married to a man from Thailand. One of the most argumentative people I’ve ever met my life – not her husband, my sister. My actual maiden name is Gallagher. My brother, Frank Gallagher – and my dad, Frank Gallagher – my brother, Frank Gallagher, is a postman, and he’s also an activist, and he also lives in a Shameless estate in Manchester. I’ve got a great uncle who’s a monsignor in Manchester. My sister, Lulu, is married to a man whose father is from Sierra Leone, and they’re strict Catholics. One of my brothers is a traveller. That’s my background. I also have between 80 and 90 foster brothers and sisters of all different races, creeds, colors and religions that I see quite regularly because my mom fostered in the ’80s and ’90s.
So that’s my background. And yeah, you want to come to one of our parties at our house, because we have a right laugh, you know? No treading on egg shells, we got on with everybody, we have a real laugh. But in work, I work into your office. Two people say something that offends me, you know nothing about me, and I walk back out again. At what point did you have an induction with me after the interview, when you offered me the job? At what point did you show me your standards and expectations of myself working there and pointed out that you have a reporting system in place that gives you the opportunity to sort out an issue, if there is one, without me walking out, storming off and causing a problem. Do you have an equal opportunity and harassment policy in place? Do you show it to all your staff on day one, and is it up to date? Does it say race, religion, religious belief, no belief, environmental belief, political opinion, affiliation, marital status, disability, gender, gender reassignment, age, and sexual orientation? Because that’s the most up to date one.
What I recommend to any of my clients to protect them against somebody like me is that they have this policy in place on day one, and there’s no point in me saying, “Ooh, get that in”, if you’re not going to show somebody! Okay? Don’t just tick the boxes by putting things in place and not knowing how to use them to protect yourself! You get these things in place and you understand why you’re using them to protect your business against tribunals and issues so that you can sort them out at the earliest stage possible.
So Amanda Chadwick walks into your business, issues offended. She knows something was said today that offended her and there’s a reporting procedure in place that she can either do informally or formally.
So, equal opportunity harassment policy. In a 15-minute interview, what questions do you ask? What can you ask me? What we say, and what I say to my clients, is that when you actually advertise a job, you have a job description already written. You have a personal specification written so that you know what you’re looking for in that person. And then what you do is you just have some standard questions. Okay? You’re not going to ask me about my health because that’s discriminatory. You’re not going to ask me about my health. In exceptional circumstances, can you ask me about my health? That might be, if I’m working in an industry that requires me to be a lone worker, a remote worker, where I’m working with young people, etc. There might be a requirement, but an exceptional circumstance. It’s very rare that we come across any job where you can ask somebody about their health before you offer them the job.
So you shouldn’t be issuing health questionnaires or asking somebody about their health before you actually take them on. Now in the interview, there are standard questions you should be asking.
Try and steer away from personal questions and family life questions because we don’t want people coming back and saying that’s why they didn’t get the job. Okay? Anybody who’s listening to me today that’s a Peninsula client, remember that we’re there to support you. If you need us to guide you or write questions that you should be asking, help you with a job specification, help you with a job description, you need to be ringing us. That’s what you pay us for. Okay? Everything from the advertisements to writing it to the application form, remember that’s what you should be using us for. Don’t struggle.
When do you talk about health, right? You only talk about health when you’ve offered me the job. What you should be doing is when you offer me the job, you’ve decided Amanda is the right person for you, you should be issuing a statement of main terms, and then you should be offering a job offer letter, and also then, included in the envelope on day one, the health questionnaire. Now I’ve told you that I’ve got a disability. I’ve told you that I’ve got loss of hearing. You can’t tell any of that by looking at me, and I know that. Okay? I also know that I take medication three times a day. You don’t know that, I know that. I have had one day off in twelve years. I don’t want a medal for that, but what I’m telling it for is that you could look at the paperwork and think on paper, Amanda looks risky. You could have two people come for the same job and you consider both the applications, and since I’m honest at the interview, it may be that you take somebody else on because think going down the line, maybe there might be a sickness issue.
That’s why I’m telling you now, when you issue me the health questionnaire, I’m going to lie on it. I’m not going to tell you that I’ve got a medical condition, I take medication three times a day, I debilitate in all this and I’m deaf. I’m not going to tell you that because I think I want a fair chance at the job. I’m here to protect you against people like that. What I’m saying, as my advice to you, is the health questionnaire is issued with the job offer letter.
That should say that it’s a legal document. Now what if you give Amanda a job? Let’s pretend I suffer from severe epilepsy, which I don’t, but let’s pretend I suffer from severe epilepsy. You do a 15-minute interview with me, and then you give me a job working in a kitchen as a kitchen porter. Okay? I don’t fill a health questionnaire in, and you give me the job. What if I fall down with a severe epileptic attack holding a pan of boiling hot water?
Health and safety executive will be investigating, and they’ll be asking you some serious questions about this, and we will be looking for defence documents on behalf of you. One of those defence documents you should have filled in is a health questionnaire. The health questionnaire wasn’t filled in on this occasion, so you’ve got no defence. Or how about, you did have the health questionnaire, you issued it on day one with the offer letter, Amanda Chadwick filled it in, and she was dishonest on it. You asked her if she had a disability, you asked her if she had an illness, you asked her if she’s taking medication or having counselling. She said “no, no, no.” But she was suffering from epilepsy. You have a defence document that can get you out of jail and get you from prosecution if you use it on day one and I’m not asking you to change the world here. The health questionnaire is a protected document. It needs to say that it is a legal document and you’re protecting yourself from day one by using the health questionnaire.
Please take this away with you today and remember what I’m saying, and that is, if you’ve got a driver and you’re giving somebody a vehicle, and you’re using a health questionnaire. For goodness sake, if you’re not using a health questionnaire, what illnesses do people have? Heart conditions, medical conditions, and quite a lot of these conditions can be controlled with medication. You need the opportunity to be able to defend yourself, but also control that situation. So use the health questionnaire.
So I’ve spoken about what you should have issued when you offered me the job. The health questionnaire, the job offer letter, and the statement of main terms. If you don’t know what a statement of main terms is, it’s those questions I ask you in interview. How much will I be getting paid? Where am I working? What are the hours like? What are the perks and benefits? What are the holidays? Who do I report to? That’s my statement of main terms. Those agreed terms are sent out to me on day one. Just a reminder here; if you’re late sending them out, you forget to send them out and it goes over eight weeks, and you have a tribunal, the average penalty there is about £1,400 just for not issuing that. So my recommendation is listen to what I’m saying. On day one, when you know who you’ve got for the job, you know you’re going to offer them the job, with the job offer letter, put the agreed terms and conditions in place and send them out on day one.
So what is your starter checklist? You take somebody on; they’re starting on day one. Do you have an induction? There is no point in me sitting here now; tearing my hair out, telling you this is really what you should be doing. If you’re not going to do it, you really need to really listen to me. We’ve had years of experience, 3,500 tribunals a year defending employers, managers, trustees, proprietors, and H.R. and helping them with everyday employment law. I know what I’m saying is right. You have an induction on day one. I don’t care how busy you are. You get there, you get them to fill in their name and address, P-45, driving licenses. You need to check them on day one. That’s your starter checklist. I’ve got a friend I’ve mentioned on quite a few webinars, she’s got a haulage company. I said to her, “You’re checking driving licenses”? Are you checking driving licenses?”
And she said, “Yeah. What I do is, on day one, I get a copy of them and put them on file”. That’s not good enough, okay? That is not good enough. Let me give you an example. Remember, you’re learning so much today. A guy works at a company in Wrexham. He works as a director in name, he doesn’t own the company. He finishes his work early, goes for a drink in the local pub. They know him really well because he’s a known alcoholic. The company he works for doesn’t know that. He covers it up really well at work. He has a drink, gets in his company car, which is a Jaguar. He’s half cut, he’s over the limit, and he runs over a small boy and kills him. It’s a really, really sad story. The guy is arrested on the Sunday in work because they’ve got his registration, they know it’s him, and they find him with umpteen amounts of cash he withdrew. He’d driven to Birmingham, drew out loads of money, and tried to repair his vehicle, tried to cover up the damage that he’d done because he didn’t think anybody had seen him hit and run the little boy and he lost his life.
The company, when investigated, when they asked if they had checked his license, they said they had photocopied it and put it on file. The license he provided to them was one that he’d said he lost, literally lost. “Yeah, I couldn’t find it.”
So he’d been banned from drink driving, he’s supposed to have sent his license back to the D.V.L.A. but informed them that he couldn’t find the license to send off, and the one he provided to his employer on a yearly basis was the one that he’d said he’d lost to the D.V.L.A.. So they were none the wiser. My advice to you, especially since this is going to be big news within the next twelve months with driving licenses, on day one, when you start a checklist, P-45, driving license. Check it with the D.V.L.A. Okay? Cover your back.
Going forward in your handbook, let’s tie this up. It’s not a statutory right, but we’re going to put it in the handbook. You want the job with me? These are my terms and conditions. These are my standards and expectations, right? Going forward, you’ve got to sign for this, and if don’t let me know you’ve breached your contract. But if you have an endorsement, you’re banned from driving, you lose your license, you’ve got to let me know. End of. Okay? And you put that in your handbook.
Also, do you have the right to work in the U.K.? Have you got that within your starter checklist? Do you check people’s documents, their relevant documents, to check that they have the right to work in the U.K.? Or are you just checking people with different coloured skin or a foreign sounding name? Or someone’s come over from Europe? Are you just checking those types of people? Or if I started work with an English accent, white skin and an English sounding name, would you not check that I’ve got the right to work in the U.K.?
If you’re just checking people with a different colour of skin or a foreign sounding name, that is racial discrimination. You should be checking everybody. I can tell you from experience with one of our clients who had a lady working for them who’d worked with them for 18 years. When they did the checks, they found out that she didn’t actually have the right to work in the U.K. So check I’ve got the right to work in the U.K.
Do I have any other jobs? Why is that relevant to you? Well, I can tell you now that one of the biggest complaints in tribunal – by the way, there’s about 76 complaints in tribunal, there’s common ones that you’ll never hear – the big ones that will hit the paper will be discrimination. Let me just point out to you, when you read the Daily Mail, good newspaper and everything but if you actually read it every day, you might actually never leave your house because it scares you to death, the things that they predict. You’ll see in the Daily Mail things like, “Lady gets £2 million for unfair dismissal claim”.
There’s a capped amount with unfair dismissal. What they don’t tell you is that lady was a merchant banker and their average wages were nearly £1 million a year. So just bear that in mind when you read some horror stories. There’s a capped amount for unfair dismissal. If she was a cleaner, she wouldn’t have gotten that. So always read into the story that you read. But there are extraordinary amounts for discrimination, but the biggest complaint in tribunal is working time directive. That involves holidays that involves somebody not taking their breaks, not having the right amount of holidays, not being paid for holidays. It involves other work, it involves breaks between each shift, it involves health assessments for night workers. It involves somebody working in a 48 hour week we’re up to now.
What you’ve got to remember with the working time regulations – if I say directive it’s the European term for this – is that there’s legislation surrounding young workers, people under 18 that changes the working time regulations. One thing about it is, I’m supposed to work 48 hours a week on average. That’s over a 17-week period. If I opt out, I can work more than 48 hours, but in most cases people don’t opt out and you can’t force them to opt out. What they don’t tell you, or advertise really loudly, is that those 48 hours include any of the work that I’m doing. So I’m working 48 hours of work week for you and I’m working 20 hours as a taxi driver, I’ve exceeded and breached the working time regulations and you, as the main employer, are responsible for knowing that I have got other jobs and putting those hours from my other jobs and adding them to the hours that I do for you.
We can get complicated here. I don’t want you following your staff around to see if they’ve got other jobs. It’s a simple term and condition that we write, and remember I’ve given you an overview on it all today. It’s different for each business how we write it, because it’s tailor made. Something simple like, “If you want to work elsewhere, including voluntary work because that’s inclusive of that, you need to tell us because you could breach the working time regulations”. Then it’s a term and condition in place in the handbook to protect yourself. Then when somebody says they do work elsewhere then what you can say is to put that in writing with the hours that you work for your other employer. Then what you would do is consider that request. They may need to opt out of the working time regulations to do the other job, but at least you’ve got peace of mind and you know that.
Have you ever taken somebody on that you don’t like? And I tell you I have. I’ve taken somebody on. She worked for me, she was there for about seven weeks, and she really wasn’t right for the job. It’s really difficult when you like somebody but they’re not the right person for the job. What do you do? Have you got something in place that protects you? How about having a probationary period in place? This is usually in the handbook and mentioned in the offer letter. In the handbook, it says something like you join me on an initial probationary period of three months. Remember to take into consideration pensions here, because after three months, you should be enrolling people’s pensions. So you may have a three month probation period with an extension to six months. During this time, your work performance and general suitability is looked at. If it’s great, that’s brilliant. If it’s not, we may extend your probation period up to six months.
Can I point out, to make it easy for yourself and from our experience, we like to make it easier for the employer and anything that deals with employment law within their workplace. We like to give them the control, if somebody’s not suitable, to not go through disciplinary procedures with them, to not go through capability with them. But we need to write that down in the probationary period. So what we’re going to say is if you’re not suitable for whatever reason, we don’t have to give you a reason why, but we reserve the right not to go through capability or disciplinary procedures with you. What we’ve just given is our client control to be able to dismiss somebody at the earliest stage without any loads and loads of hassle.
So, what if you catch me stealing? This is a really good one, this, because I speak about search policy all the time and it’s an amazing policy. So I’m going to give you a little story here about how we recommended to a retail unit to have a search policy. A lady and daughter own a company. They actually sell designer clothes, you’re talking top end here. Thousands of pounds per dress or top. Very, very expensive garments. Lovely, lovely couple, mother and daughter. Not a bad bone in the body. Run their business for many years. Two shops. We wrote all their policies and procedures, and we recommend certain things to certain industries, so we’d recommend a search policy for retail, deduct the money from people’s salary, etc. and have a written agreement that you can do that if there’s an underpayment or overpayment, etc. Having certain things in place like lockers, not having purses within the shop area, that type of thing.
We recommended a search policy and the lady and her daughter said, “Well, gosh, we don’t want a search policy. These staffs have been here for years. We don’t really want to offend them by putting a search policy in place.” We have to respect our client’s wishes so they said no. We really said they should because they are a retail unit and we would recommend it. Just to remind you, a search policy isn’t just for stealing. It’s actually for searching for drugs, alcohol, smoking, or using a mobile phone when they shouldn’t be. So I’ll tell you more about the actual policy itself in a moment. This lady and daughter carried on running their business, no problems. They rang us to write adverts; they rang us to write letters, holidays, holiday working out for hourly rates, that type of thing. Keeping them up to date and updated with the policy.
They were regular things anyway. They were very, very happy. Then one day, they caught a manager stealing. They caught her because the daughter saw that there was a bag in their break area that was half open, and she could see some garments pocking out to the material from garments that only the shop had in stock. So she unzipped the bag a little bit more and she could see they were definitely their garments. There were labels on them. She zipped the bag back up again and told her mother. The mother and daughter then brought the manageress into an office and said, “Look, we found your bag in the break area. You’ve been stealing from us. There’s stuff in the bags. Can you tell me why it’s there?” And she had no explanation. She admitted she’d been stealing. They didn’t ring us, by the way. I don’t know why, because what’s the hell of paying for something if you’re not going to use it?
What I say to people that I deal with is don’t sit there trying to struggle write a policy. Don’t sit there trying to manage it. Don’t sit there not understanding why it’s there. Don’t sit there trying to resolve a situation without getting as involved. If you’re thinking about redundancies, get at it in the early stage because you might actually not go down the redundancy route. We might go through shortage work or layoff, or look at ways of actually making you grow and saving you money. So I want to be involved at the very beginning. In this incident, I would have liked to be involved right in the very beginning when the saw the garment in the bag. But I wasn’t. They tried to handle it themselves. The lady burst out crying. She was really upset. She said, “I’ve got many problems. Don’t tell my husband about this, and I’ll resign right now.” They accepted her resignation.
When I ask this question to a lot of people that I work with at events that I do a lot of employers and even H.R. would accept the resignation. So she resigned, they had a written resignation where she resigned. What happened next was the lady was very intimidating, and she took advantage of these two women’s really good character. She used to come in the shop and she’d intimidate them, knocking stuff over, and she wasn’t very forgiving. These two women were frightened, so they rang the police, the lady was arrested and the rest is history. They told them about the intimidation, they told them about the way she’d been stealing and that she’d been caught stealing, and the police went away with their investigation.
A few weeks later, and this very, very unusual, the chief of police for this area rang the shop and spoke to the mother and said, “Just so let you know, there is not going to be a prosecution because it’s not in the public’s best interest and there’s not actually sufficient evidence”.
What happened next is, the lady said, “Oh, right, okay”.
He said, “Well I rang you particularly to mention something to you. In your daughter’s statement, she says that she zipped open a bag that was half open and zipped it back up again. I need to ask you this. Do you have a search policy?”
And the lady said, “No, we haven’t, but we were recommended to get one”.
And he said, “Well, I’m very sorry, but just to let you know, you’re very lucky, but it’s illegal to search somebody without a search policy in place. So just thought I’d let you know that.”
And the phone went down, and that was that. They still didn’t ring us. However, a few weeks later, they received tribunal papers from the woman that had been stealing, that had been intimidating, and they then phoned us up when they had the tribunal papers. I don’t want to hear of you at that stage, I want to hear of you at the very beginning. But obviously, we’re there to assure you against tribunals anyway. I want to prevent them. Out of 3,500 tribunals a year, we win 98% of those because we do know our stuff. That was one of the 2% that we couldn’t win. We went to tribunal, and we lost it. We weren’t involved at the earliest stage, but what makes me sad and angry is that it’s frustrating because that woman shouldn’t have won that tribunal had we involved in the very beginning, and it makes me really angry that we didn’t win that.
So just to let you know, you need to inform us right at the very beginning. Get a search policy in place. They’re absolutely brilliant to use. Don’t be put off by people saying it’ll offend your staff. It’s about searching somebody. Don’t say to get your clothes off and then I’ll refer to your embarrassing bodies. It’s nothing like that. It’s saying, “Please, can you take your jacket off? Empty your pockets. Could you open your handbag? Could you empty your handbag out? Could you open the glove compartment of your vehicle?”
And what I would write is, I’m giving you an overview here, something like, “I have the right to search you wherever you are working for me”. So those haulage companies that are our clients, we have the right to search their staff or they do wherever they are working. So if they’re down in Dover and they’ve got their goods in the back of the car, then we can go down and search their vehicle. I can search my company vehicle. I can search your vehicle if it’s part of the premises. I have the right to search your locker. That type of thing. But the control here is, it’s very hard to prove somebody’s stealing, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, or using the mobile, but it’s very easy to prove that somebody refused a search. It’s like an admission of guilt when somebody refuses a search. What needs to happen in the handbook is that search policy needs to be tied in to gross misconduct and you need to refer them to it. “Refusal of you to agree to being search will constitute a breach in your contract, which could result in your dismissal”.
Check out gross misconduct.
I’m not getting rid of you because you were stealing. I’m actually dismissing you because you refused a search, obviously a full investigation, disciplinary, etc. So I hope that’s helped you a little bit there. I think it’s brilliant, having a search policy.
So what if I’m always late? I had a calculation on one of my slides on another presentation, and it was a company. I can’t remember the calculations without reading them off, I’m not a mathematician. Do it yourself, do the sums yourself. The average wage is £7 an hour. A few minutes here before work, a few minutes for the lunch, a few minutes for breaks. Add it up, ten minutes per day per person. Times it by an average 46 weeks per year. Times it by the 46 weeks, work it to a few thousand pounds in lateness. Some companies manage lateness quite easily. They look at people, they stare them out, and they’re never late again. They have a quiet word with them. It works.
Some people need a written policy, and something like if you’re more than five minutes late, we deduct money from you and of 15 minutes, okay? If you’re more than 15 minutes late, we deduct half an hour’s pay. Don’t moan about it, we told you. It’s in the handbook. We don’t like lateness. We offer a policy. We offer bonuses. So if you’re late, we get to take money off you. You’re not working, you’re actually late, and it’s costing us money per year, a few thousand pounds. If you’re an hour late and haven’t even bothered ringing us, we’ll send you home without pay. Have a written agreement. By the way, one of the biggest complaints again in tribunal is illegal deductions from salary. So if there’s any element of deducting money from salary, whether it’s lateness, whether it’s wastage, if they’ve made a mistake or over paid them for the holidays or wages, you need to have a written agreement in your handbook to say, we can deduct money from people’s wages.
So let’s go to the wastage policy now. This is a policy where if somebody keeps losing the shutter keys, damaging vehicles, damaging cars, damaging wind mirrors, chips into some bumps and you never go through the insurance company, or somebody deliberately and maliciously damages your business, you’ve got a wastage policy that says, if you do this we can deduct the money from your ages or actually sue you for it. It’s absolutely brilliant, a wastage policy. It’s growth, and it saves you money. You take each case on merit.
So what if I am forever texting or talking on my mobile? If I had an argument with my husband 20 years ago, it would be face to face, wouldn’t it? Twenty years ago without a doubt, usually about him leaving his pajamas and undies around and his cup of tea. Twenty years ago, he’d even gone up the door with me nagging and he’d have gone to work. He won’t have said goodbye which would have been irritated me. And he would have gone to work, but when he came home at 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening, I couldn’t even remember what I had for breakfast, let alone what upset him. So there wouldn’t have been a row.
Now what we have is we have the same incident where he’s dropped his stuff around, his cup of tea. I’m a little bit more stressed now, the children, teenagers, grandchildren, etc. And I say to him, “I can’t believe that you’re leaving all your stuff about. You expect me to pick it up after you, and I really wouldn’t mind a life, you know?” And he just goes out of the house without saying anything because he can’t get a word in edge wise anyway, and he goes to work. And on the way, I’ve got a few minutes haven’t I? What do you think I’m going to do now? Technology. I’m going text him. I’m going pick up my phone and I’m going say, “I can’t believe you expect me to do everything, take the kids to school, then work. You know what, I wouldn’t mind a life. I can’t believe that you don’t expect me to have one. So that you know, I wouldn’t mind a life, so I might not be here when you come home.”
Now what happens is I’m just waiting for the little light to flash on the side, and it does. And the text I get back says, “Actually, wouldn’t be bothered if you’re not there when I came home”. And now we have a text war, okay? A text war on the mobile. My family life and his family life are more important than work, so it overtakes work. I’m getting texts all day long, and depending on what age I am, I might be 18 getting texts off my boyfriend, girlfriend, same sex relationship, whatever. But I’m getting texts; I’m getting texts off my parents. I’m getting all sorts of things. I’m addicted to my mobile. I’m watching Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn; I’m doing those little podcasts now. What are they called? You know what I’m on about, don’t you? I can’t remember the name of them now. They’re very funny, but I’m addicted to them. I’m on LinkedIn all the time, and I’m just on my mobile. What have you got in place to protect yourself against somebody like that?
I recommend you have a works mobile policy and you have a personal mobile phone policy. You have whatever rules you want. Somebody says they leave their mobile phone on all the time because they’ve got kids, let’s reverse them back to 1982 when mobiles weren’t really in the work place and if there was an emergency, you could use the land line. I managed with all my children, in work, without a mobile. In some industries, it screams out that you shouldn’t be using a mobile phone in the workplace. Care, working with children, M.O.D., military, that type of industry and business. You don’t want a fireman on his mobile or listening to be iPod when he should be without music or somebody on the iPod when they’re in manufacturing because cord is an accident. So we’ve got to have a policy to say these are the rules.
When I give you a works mobile phone policy, when I give you a works mobile, I’m giving you the works mobile but I’m going to make it very clear to you that you don’t send rude texts to each of the women because I can read them. It says it in the policy. Don’t take pictures of yourself that I can see. It might create more business if it falls into the wrong hands but at the end of the day, it’s a works mobile. You can’t use it excessively, so let’s have a works mobile phone policy. Remember, I’m giving you an overview so there’s loads more to it than what I’m saying.
Then we have a personal mobile phone policy, but what about social networking? What about Facebook and all of that? How about a social networking policy, right? For work, we have an internet policy and we say that we monitor emails and the use of the internet internally.
Outside of work, you seem to have no control, don’t you? I might work for you, and during the weekend I might have a very colourful life, yeah? And I put it on the internet. I might have really strong views that I put on the internet. But I’ve befriended all your clients, and they’ve got access to my Facebook page, and they might be judging your business by what I’m putting on there.
I might be uploading pictures of your clients. So how about having rules in place for this? How about saying you can’t have clients as friends on Facebook, or any social networking site? How about saying you can’t talk about my staff, you can’t talk about anybody you work with on any social networking site, and in fact, you can say what industry you work in, but you can’t say I’m your employer? So you’re protecting yourself. I think people’s private lives now; they just let everybody know about it. What you get up to in your private life, I’m really not bothered to know whatever makes you tick. It’s up to you. Whatever your views are, they’re your views. They’re your views, and your personal life is your personal life as far as I’m concerned.
But we have to face facts. Facebook’s social networking is intruding on the workplace, so we’ve got to put rules in place to protect our business and our client base. So what about bringing in second texting? What about a good sickness policy, reporting procedure, do return work entries from one day, having a sickness reporting procedure, maybe having an employee assistance program, but most certainly saying don’t text in, phone in.