Employees must be reasonable too
What can be more frustrating for an employer than the employee who turns around and simply says ‘‘no’’ to a request? Many times recently I have had frustrated employers calling me to say things like: ‘‘ He just looked at me and said ‘I’m not doing that’ and walked off!’’, ‘‘ He just told me he was taking this weekend off and that was it!’’, ‘‘I told her what I wanted her to do this morning and she said ‘ not in my job description’ and refused to do it!’’, ‘‘I went to ask them to do something and as soon as I found them they abused me for interrupting them and then I couldn’t get out anything before they stormed off. I felt it was all just to put me on the back foot’’.
Some add that, when they have tried to retackle the situation, the employee threatens them with a lawyer or similar action so they are even more frustrated with the situation.
Well the news on this is actually good – there is help.
Employment law is for both parties and helps the employer as well as the employee.
The Employment Relations Act 2000 requires employees to act in the best interests of the employer at all times and to follow every legitimate instruction they are given.
Most job descriptions also cover themselves with a statement like: ‘‘ and any other legitimate instruction given by the employer’’.
This is done precisely because people do not always recall every aspect of a job when they are writing the job description.
Also jobs can evolve and require different tasks to be taken on.
For the simple reasons of common sense and not wanting to have to micro-manage people this rider is usually included.
Good employees already know this and have no issues with it.
They do not want to be micro-managed and thrive on opportunities to improve.
They also realise that all jobs have unpleasant elements to them that are simply part of the job and best done well and with a good attitude.
These people are valued in the work place because of these attributes.
So how do you deal with the ones who do not realise this?
Firstly, as soon as such an instance arises calmly correct them.
Say something like ‘‘I hope you’re only pulling my leg because I really do need that done please’’.
If they repeat the objection then react a little more firmly.
Stop what you are doing and simply say: ‘‘Look, is there a valid reason you cannot do this?’’.
If there is then obviously listen to it and deal with it. It could be as simple as a training need. If not, you state that: ‘‘ We can go and refer to the employment agreement which will show you that you do need to do these tasks as required. I would rather not have to be so forceful but I need you to do things like this and it is more pleasant for all of us if we understand this and do our jobs with a good manner’’.
If they do not have a good reason why they cannot do a task and still refuse, calmly advise them that refusal of a legitimate instruction is unacceptable and you will have to proceed to formal performance management if they choose to continue to behave like this.
If they still continue to refuse then you need to move to formal processes.
The same applies if the employee is abusive towards you, other staff or animals or if they turn up and depart whenever they feel like it.
Employment law protects and assists both parties. Sometimes the employees just need a reminder that they have obligations to the employer as well.
As covered in previous articles, a good pre-employment process combined with a good orientation plan, follow up and onfarm communication systems reduces the likelihood of these issues arising.
If you have any questions or need any assistance with employment issues, please call: John Brosnan, HR advisor, CooperAitken, accountants in Morrinsville and Matamata on 07 9022 838.