First published: May 20th 2023
Last updated: May 20th 2023
You could be forgiven for thinking that HR’s role is limited to hiring and firing. But in reality, there’s a lot more to a role in HR than that. And by a lot, we sure do mean A LOT.
In fact, in celebration of International HR Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on HR professionals everywhere for whom no two days are ever the same…..
Peninsula Group provides HR services to over 120,000 SMEs around the globe. They have pulled together the wild and wackiest calls received by advisors from group companies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK.
Moira Grassick, COO at Peninsula Ireland says, “HR can get a bad rap, but the job is extremely varied and rewarding. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a client in the UK actually called the advice line trying to sell his parrot – HR can handle most things, but maybe isn’t the best port of call when trying to offload a feathered friend!"
“Believe it or not, it’s all in a day’s work for HR! Let’s take a look at the craziest calls received by our advisors over the last year, and I’ll give my advice on how best to handle them.”
I need some support; one of my staff, an undertaker, was just run over by the priest.
“There’s a lot to unpack here but as with any workplace accident, you first need to establish the welfare of the employees involved. Did the employee sustain injury? If so, make sure that they get proper treatment, following all health and safety procedures. You will need to make sure that all paperwork is completed as required following an incident at work. Next, instigate contact with the gardai as this may be classed as a road traffic incident. You will need to support with their enquiries. Ensure all health and safety policies are followed in line with the Health and Safety Authority and commence an internal investigation to establish the facts around the incident, including any witness statements.”
A member of staff is asking other staff to cover for her while she meets up with men she’s having affairs with on her lunch break. How do I manage this?
“Irrespective of the moralities of this private matter, an employee is expected to conduct their work in accordance with their rostered hours. Ensure there is a policy stating that requests to swap shifts must be approved by management in advance and communicate the grievance procedures should employees not observe these rules. There’s also a question mark as to where the lunchtime liaisons are taking place. If these meetings are happening on company premises then there could be potential for a gross misconduct case. Are unauthorised persons coming onto the premises or is she meeting other employees? Either way, it’s unacceptable behaviour for a workplace.”
My staff member said they were working from home, but it turns out they have been in Mexico for months. How do I make them come back?
“An employer’s duty of care obligation doesn’t end when the employee works remotely, including from abroad, so it’s important you are aware of and have approved their working location. Duty of care includes ensuring any risks to the employee’s health, safety and security associated with their location, accommodation, travel and required workload are properly evaluated and mitigated, as well as protecting the businesses best interests with regards to data security and information sharing. Firstly, check the employment contract to see where their place of work is listed. Then, arrange a meeting to discuss the information that has come to light. It may be appropriate to initiate disciplinary action after carrying out a full investigation. Set out arrangements for the employee to return to their place of work as specified in their statement of main terms and be mindful to comply with legislation regarding the right to request remote working.”
Our former staff member stole the company dog. How do we get it back?
“It’s natural that every business can have disgruntled ex-employees, especially if it wasn’t their choice to leave the company. But stealing property – and yes, that includes the company dog – would be deemed a civil matter and should be reported to the gardai. To reduce the risk of such a scenario happening, you should always ensure that keys and passes are returned, building access is removed and employees are escorted off premises upon termination of employment.”
In addition to the above amusing questions here are few our branches across the world have received in the past:
- Can I give my employee a warning for wearing the same perfume as me?
- We fundraised for our employee’s cancer treatment but found Facebook photos in Thailand when she took sick leave to receive ‘treatment’. This doesn’t seem right… what can I do?
- Can I pay my workers, half in cash and half in food, if I can prove that the value of food is of equal value? I can attach the food pricing to their payslip.
- My employee has called in sick because his cat is sick, and the vet has given him a med cert for the cat.
- My employee is a bit of a downer; can I terminate them for not being happy at work?
- An employee called in sick and told their employer that they would be off sick for the 5-day mandatory quarantine period. The employer requested reasonable proof of this absence, as the employee had a high level of absences already this year. The employer received a photo of the employee’s positive COVID-19 test but recognized it. After a bit of online investigating, they found the exact photo which had been circulating on Twitter.
- A new employee asked their employer where the toilets were and was directed to the location. Moments later, they noticed the employee walk out the front door. Thinking this was slightly strange, they kept watching as the employee then squatted down and began to ‘use the toilet’ on the sidewalk outside the store.
- An employee was caught sleeping at their desk during working hours. The employer woke them up and confronted them, asking why they were asleep. The employee said he was not asleep but was mediating to reduce the stress caused by his workload which he had recently complained to his supervisor about, to no avail.
- Two employees were on their break in the parking lot. They were engaging in sexual activities when, suddenly, one of the employees got bitten in the behind by a coyote. The employer had to call an ambulance and had questions as to why the employee’s behind was exposed…
- A new manager refused to go into certain store areas alone, claiming that she could see ghosts wandering the aisles. When alone, she would wait at the front doors till a co-worker came by and avoid working near the areas where she claimed to see these apparitions.
- Can I fire someone for playing hide and seek in the office?
- A colleague drove me to work the other day and was a terrible driver. Can I raise a grievance against them?
- Can I fire someone for stealing my lunch?
- A staff member swore at me, am I allowed to swear back?
- A staff member resigned recently, and I didn’t say goodbye. Can they sue me?