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FDR Law Legal Clinic - Difficult Employee

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Q: One of our employees seems to always be at the centre of issues with their colleagues.  What can we do?

A: Providing that you act fairly and impartially then an Employer is entitled to treat such action as potential misconduct.  However, it is advisable to try and resolve the issue informally in the first instance by managing the individual.

Employers will need to assess the impact the behaviour has on the day to day working environment, for example in obeying instructions or relationships with management and co-workers.  Best practice would be to start by taking a sensitive approach, particularly when the employee might have been employed for some time and has a history of being a ‘good’ employee with a clean disciplinary record.

The first step would be an informal chat; try to see whether the behaviour is stemming from a work related issue and if so, try to deal with it.  Extra steps will be needed if there are health related reasons for the behaviour.

Give the employee some time to change their behaviour, and provide any necessary support and coaching.  If there are further incidents these will need to be handled by an investigation following compliance with your company’s disciplinary process, and could then move to a formal disciplinary process.

The employer needs to consider whether a sanction is appropriate.  Dismissal may well be inappropriate in all but the most serious of cases, and depending on whether the employee has a clean disciplinary record, a verbal or written warning would be more appropriate. 

However it is always advisable to seek legal advice before taking any action to guard against the risk of non-compliance with Employment laws, which could potentially lead to a Tribunal claim that could be subject to compensation.

For further information contact Stephen Poyner on 01925 230000 or by email Stephen.Poyner@fdrlaw.co.uk