So how do you part company with a member of staff at your golf club?
Carolyne Wahlen: Now we’re going to go through the flow chart of questions that you need to be asking when you decide, or when your committee decides in its infinite wisdom that they need to part company with one of your members of staff.
The first question you need to be asking is when did the person start working for you? Did they start working for you before the 6th of April 2012? The 6th of April 2012 is when the law changed. Previous to that you had one year service and then you were protected from unfair dismissal. Since then it’s two years and then you are protected. So did they start before the 6th of April? Yes, which means they have the two year service they need to be protected from unfair dismissal.
You have three options. You can restructure that part of your business and do a redundancy process, which is going to be three weeks consultation plus a notice period you’d have to pay for them, plus they can raise grievances and do appeals, and they can slow that down.
You can do the ACAS disciplinary procedure on performance, which is why you need to have your performance indicators to go yes you’re doing it, no you’re not. If you have clear performance indicators and job descriptions and assessments and appraisals it’s very easy to dismiss on grounds of performance.
If you don’t have any of that in place it’s very easy for someone to say you dismissed me because I’m gay. You then have to prove that it wasn’t on that basis, it is really difficult to not prove something. That usually is the longest way of doing it, that’s usually three to six months.
The third way is to go straight for settlement agreement, it’s to have a “without prejudice” conversation, an off the record conversation with your employee and say it’s not working out, here’s some money, off you go. Ballpark for that you’d be looking at how much you pay them for redundancy plus a sweetener. That is the minimum you would ever get away with. Okay? And if you ever say anything discriminatory in that meeting, that without prejudice meeting, it can be used against you.
So if you said to Gail you’re not performing correctly, you need to go, that’s fine. She can’t use that against you in the court. If you said you need to go because you’re getting old, there you go, you’ve got your blank check again for her and she can use that in court.
You can see that it’s absolutely crucial to have the right information, to gather that, and to have the right timing before you make any decisions, not to make any knee-jerk decisions, any quick decisions just because people say we’ve got to save money. Okay, that’s fine, let’s just go find out what we can do, otherwise you could be writing a blank check for your club.