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Employee Relations Issues. Policies, procedures, rules Employee discipline Grievances Employee rights. Policies, Procedures and Rules. Policies: A general guideline For example: “XYZ, Inc. does not tolerate sexual harassment” Procedures A customary method

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Employee Relations Issues

  • Policies, procedures, rules

  • Employee discipline

  • Grievances

  • Employee rights

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Policies, Procedures and Rules

  • Policies:

    • A general guideline

    • For example: “XYZ, Inc. does not tolerate sexual harassment”

  • Procedures

    • A customary method

    • For example: the steps for reporting sexual harassment

  • Rules

    • A specific guideline (“programmed decision”)

    • For example: sexually harassing a subordinate is cause for termination

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About Rules, Policies, and Procedures

  • Why?

    • To ensure consistent treatment (i.e., fairness, procedural justice)

    • To reduce time demands (programmed decisions)

  • How communicated

    • Employee handbooks

    • Policy and procedure manuals

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Effective PPR

  • Internally consistent

  • Only those that are necessary

  • Applicable

  • Understandable

  • Reasonable

  • Distributed and communicated

  • Enforced

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Employee Discipline

  • Establishing discipline

  • Progressive discipline

  • Why managers don’t discipline employees

  • Why managers punish too soon

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Establishing Discipline










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Progressive Discipline

  • What it is?

    • Gradual movement from less to more severe penalties

  • Why?

    • Fair treatment for employees (chance to improve)

    • Preserve company’s investment in employees

    • Maintain employee morale

    • Ethical considerations

    • Professional approach to discipline

    • Legal considerations

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Steps in Progressive Discipline

  • General steps

    • Verbal warning

    • Verbal caution (recorded)

    • Formal written reprimand

    • Suspension (paid or unpaid)

    • Demotion or termination

  • May start at a higher level for more severe offences (for example, immediate termination for drug use)

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Why Managers Don’t Discipline Employees

  • Lack of training

  • Lack of support from above

  • Fear of acting alone

  • Guilt

  • Loss of friendships

  • Loss of time

  • Fear of losing one’s temper

  • Rationalization

  • Lack of appropriate policies and rules

  • Fear of lawsuits

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Why Managers Punish Too Soon

  • Lack of training

  • Not aware of alternatives

  • Fast, quick solution to problems

  • Personal gratification

  • Frustration

  • Belief that punishment is the best way to change employee behavior

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Employment at Will

  • Common law doctrine:

    • Employers may hire, fire, demote and promote whomever they choose, unless a law exists to the contrary

    • Depends on state courts’ interpretations

  • General exceptions to EAW:

    • Public policy

      • Violation of law

      • Filing workers’ comp claim

      • Refusal to commit illegal acts)

    • Implied employment contract (the employee handbook)

    • Good faith and fair dealing

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Just Cause

  • Reason for termination stems from a job-related, work performance problem

  • Employee knew that the problem could result in termination

  • If necessary, a fair and impartial investigation has been conducted (and documented)

  • Substantial evidence supports firing employee

  • Firing is not an unusually harsh action

  • Problems are handled consistently

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  • Procedure for dealing with employee dissatisfaction with management action

  • Found in union and many non-unionized organizations (FedEx, for example)

  • Involves appeals through various levels of management, sometimes hearing by management / employee panel

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Employee Rights

  • Access to personnel records

  • Substance abuse / drug testing

  • Medical records and genetic testing

  • Off-the-job activities

  • Polygraphs and honesty testing

  • Miscellaneous

    • Email and employee monitoring

    • Whistle blowing

    • Right to be aware of hazards

    • Plant and facility closings

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Access to Personnel Records

  • Unauthorized individuals should not have access

    • Individual records are confidential information

    • Employer has responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure this

  • However, the employee has right to see his / her records

  • Employee also has the right to:

    • Respond to unfavorable information and correct erroneous information

    • Be notified (or possibly consent) if information is released to a third party

    • Know how information is used internally

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Substance Abuse and Drug Testing

  • Occurs in at least 85% of U.S. firms

  • Why?

    • Absenteeism

    • Turnover

    • Accidents and workers’ compensation claims

    • Health care costs

    • Public safety

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Who Gets Tested?

  • New hires (after conditional offer of employment)

  • Probable cause (such as accidents)

  • Employees at random

    • In certain industries, such as transportation

    • As a condition of being given a second chance

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Medical Records and Genetic Testing

  • Employee medical records:

    • Must be kept separate from other personnel records

    • Medical conditions not grounds for dismissal if employee can perform the job

  • Genetic testing:

    • Are employee, spouse or dependents at risk for developing an expensive-to-treat medical condition?

    • But…a certainty or just a predisposition?

    • Reluctance to hire and ADA

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Off-the-Job Activities

  • Dating

  • Smoking

  • Language issues

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Dating at Work

  • Possibility of conflict of interest if employee is dating a competitor’s employee

  • Possible perceptions (or reality !) of sexual harassment

  • Employer’s moral standards (WalMart case)

  • Nepotism

    • More and more, spouses and relatives are allowed to work for same employer

    • Normally,not allowed to work in same unit, one can’t supervise the other

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  • The employer can prohibit / restrict at work

  • Difficult to forbid off-the-job (how to enforce?)

  • No federal protection, but smokers may be protected under state law (including Tennessee)

    • Some employers can ban smoking (primarily around children)

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Language Issues

  • Can employees speak a language other than English at work?

    • Yes, on breaks

    • No, not at work

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Polygraphs and Honesty Testing

  • Polygraphs

    • Now illegal for pre-employment screening in most instances

    • Can be used for security agencies, governments, manufacturers of controlled substances

    • Can be used (with employee’s consent) for internal investigations of theft or losses

  • Honesty testing

    • A substitute for the polygraph?

    • Test validity?????

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Miscellaneous Issues

  • E-mail and other employee monitoring

    • Employers are free to read email and monitor productivity and other activities

    • Internet screens

    • Do need to notify employees that they are being monitored

  • Whistle blowing

  • Right to be aware of hazards (OSHA)

  • Notification of plant and facility closings (WARN)