How to Address Employee Relations Issues during Remote Working

Posted in : Webinar Recordings on 21 April 2020
Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

As homeworking becomes the new norm during the Coronavirus outbreak, Caroline McEnery (the HR Suite) and Rolanda Markey (Legal Island) discuss tips to ensure that employers and employees get the most out of homeworking and also discuss the challenges that could arise.

In this webinar Caroline McEnery will discuss how to conduct an employment investigation with remote workers and deal with staff grievances, etc. 

The Recording

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Transcript

Rolanda: Good afternoon and welcome to our webinar with Rolanda Markey from Legal-Island and Caroline McEnery, Managing Director of the HR Suite. Caroline is a past member of the Low Pay Commission and is also an adjudicator in the Workplace Relations Commission. She has completed a master's in Human Resources in the University of Limerick, CIPD accredited as well as been a trained mediator. Caroline has worked across various areas of human resources for over 20 years in the Kerry Group and then the retail and hospitality sectors where she was the operations and HR director of the Garvey Group prior to setting up the HR Suite in 2009.

Caroline speaks widely and writes articles and papers on thought leadership in relation to the future landscape of HR and the challenges and opportunities that that presents for employers and employees. We're very grateful for Caroline for continuing to do this webinar series with us to help provide some important guidance for employers and dealing with many employment issues arising from the Coronavirus pandemic.

In today's webinar, Caroline will focus on providing guidance on how to manage employment relations issues, such as handling investigations, and then subsequent disciplinary and grievance matters that arise during this remote working time. We have received several questions already and Caroline has incorporated those into your guidance material. As we have quite a lot of material to get through, we'll be able to address any specific questions today, but hope that the material comfortable address most listeners queries that arise.

Poll Result 1

51% claimed potential disciplinary issues have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poll Result 2

38% reported grievances in their organisation arising from the current pandemic

Poll Result 3

Attendees most worried about holding disciplinary / grievance meetings digitally

Now, Caroline, thanks again, Caroline, for agreeing to do this. As you can see, there are quite a few disciplinary issues that have arisen and grievances and a lot of organisations and obviously, this is your area of specialism, Caroline. So you've some good guidance for us today?

Caroline: Great. Thanks so much, Rolanda. And welcome, everybody. Delighted to be talking here. Of course, we're finding that lots of people can pause disciplinaries or issues that have a pause during this whole process. So we're getting lots of concerns and challenges in relation to how can we manage both disciplinary and grievances to ensure they're fair, reasonable, and robust in line with rules of natural justice so that they won't create an issue at a later date in terms of process.

So today, we're going to cover lots of the potential issues that may occur or how we can best prepare for the session so that we maximise the benefit of the fact we've got really good technology. And we've really good systems and processes in place. So we'll do maybe an update and then people, if there's any questions, as always, I'd be delighted to take any questions people have and welcome those.

Employment Relations Policies

So the starting point, I suppose, is to look at your discipline on grievance and bullying and harassment policy that's in place at the moment, because there may be a need to add an amendment to them just to facilitate the fact that because we're in the middle of a different type of environment, there might be in your policy things like mention of individuals face-to-face meetings or specific things that currently in the current situation are not possible. So the first starting point I would say is review your current policies that are in place and all you're doing is putting a cover note with them to explain that, "Look, in the current environment, obviously, all our policies and procedures still apply to people's working relationships, the only difference is at this time we may not be in a position to facilitate face-to-face meetings in the event of the need to address a disciplinary or a grievance but instead appropriate measures will be put in place to address those issues."

It's also important to ensure that staff members have clear that the actual open door of the HR department is still open during this time so that there isn't a deterrence from raising grievances. Like when you did your poll, which was really helpful, Rolanda, we see that there's a lot of disciplinaries being addressed, but maybe not too many grievances and we're finding that especially this week now when people are adjusting to a new normal that's been going on for a while that people are saying, "Well, look, I had this issue six weeks ago but I didn't get a chance to address this and I didn't think that it could be addressed during this time." So if you have people who are working remotely or who are actually working as vital workers at the moment, then it's important that it is business as normal and we are trying to address and nip issues in the bud because one of the principles I suppose always to do with an issue is we want to make sure that we are seen to timely address the issue that's raised.

So I would say that there's very few things that can wait indefinitely. And like currently, we know there is another few weeks in the lockdown that we are experiencing at the moment. We're not quite sure when different workplaces are going to be returning to what is a new normal. So I think it's pragmatic and it's sensible to start addressing those issues now. So let's talk about maybe some of the issues that people are particularly after raising in advance of this webinar today and also just come up, typically. And I said, I've been involved in a number of investigations that we've now managed remotely where there have been union reps involved, whether there have been grievances, whether there have been contention disciplinaries, etc. So it's definitely manageable.

Preparation – Terms of Reference

What I think one of the top tips I would give you to start is that the preparation in advance for the new things needs to be probably a lot more than we would have been doing typically, because typically, we would have done the terms of reference and our terms of reference now still need to be robust enough to cover all of the allegations to cover the process, etc.

Now we also need to add in a further consideration in relation to for example the whole area of confidentiality, for example. So when we're addressing confidentiality, now people are potentially doing it from their home. So, again, we're asking the person to say, "Look, we're allocating it to our slot to do this investigation. The requirement is that you have a suitable location within your home or whatever location you're going to be doing the investigation in and that it is confidential and that no other parties other than your representative are available to hear that discussion."

So in other words, we need to add in additional caveats to try and maintain the same principles for example in relation to confidentiality as would be in place previously. What I'm noticing is that people are saying, "Yeah, that's fine. I can achieve those." Or people are coming back saying, "Well, actually, I can't do that because of children or because of other factors. But I can do is between 5:30 and 7:00 if that's an option." So flexibility is something I think we need to put in place to facilitate people's arrangements. But we can't compromise in relation to the principles of what would make up a good investigation, a good terms of reference, etc.

So I think your terms of reference needs to be quite detailed to address the concerns that you would have and many of which I'm going to cover in today's webinar. So I suppose other issues that have arisen is that the employees say, "Look, I prefer to pause things because it's too stressful for me to be dealing with it now." And the same as if an employee was . . . which often occurs . . . was at work and they would say go out sick or they will be trying to delay the process potentially. Same principle applies that you would go back and say, "Look, we need to have this meeting scheduled within this week timeframe." And give them a time frame to say. So, you know, it's in everybody's interest that we move the process on because, for example, if this is a grievance that involves somebody else, we have an obligation to them as well.

So we're positively moving this forward. So, again, I think the stressful elements, you're basically saying to the employee, "Look, because we're allocating a specific time because we're agreeing the technology that we'll use, etc., it's actually going to be no more stressful than if it was going to be held. However, we acknowledge that this is a stressful experience for you because of the nature of the process but it's no more stressful."

Providing for Representatives

And another consideration is in relation to ensuring that the person's representative is available and because you're now juggling people who have family commitments and other challenges in terms of getting that confidential space, etc., we need to make sure that you're not alone and ensuring that you're the person who is going to be the subject of the investigation or the person who is the respondent or the complainant, depending on what are the witness, indeed, we're also making sure that they are representative also has that support. So it's important to make sure that we give the representative the ability and the time and their facilitation to ensure that they are available also.

Using Technology

Personally, I've done some visually, so not visually. My preference is to do it visually, and Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, there's lots of good options available to facilitate a visual meeting. And so, again, I would encourage, if you could do it visually, I think it means that you're more engaged with the person, because as we know, from doing investigations, investigations is all about the act of asking the right questions. And if you're just asking questions through the phone, you don't get the same benefits in terms of seeing the body language, etc. But even though it's virtual, I still think the visual piece adds positively to the investigations process. And, again, because you're going to be running so make sure that you're familiar with the technology in advance and make sure that you're comfortable in relation to, for example, managing to pause if you need to, etc.

So other considerations around the technology are in terms of recording. So a lot of the technology that facilitates visual meetings also facilitates recording. And, obviously, a lot of devices now also have a record to facilitate. So, again, I would address recording, either you're saying we allow recording or we don't allow recording. So it's very difficult to prevent somebody from recording a session even if it is the case that you've managed a different place. So it's important that whatever mechanism you have in place that you are basically agreeing with the person, "Look, this has to be kept confidential. Recording is not allowed, or if we are doing the recording, we'll send you the recording also." Because obviously the biggest risk with that is that it would end up being passed to somebody that shouldn't have access to it from a confidentiality point of view that some elements could be posted on social media, etc. So again, you're addressing all of that in your terms of reference from the outset.

And the confidentiality, and GDPR are, I suppose, intrinsic to our investigation process. And that process, again, needs to be flagged with the person, again, in the terms of reference. So a number of those points that we've flagged can be incorporated into your terms of reference, which I'm finding that because you're adding to your terms of reference to make them very robust to address all these issues in advance, but there's a lot more tooing and froing in relation to the agreeing of the terms there, which, again, you're not going to get some, you're not going to be asking somebody would you like input into their terms of reference. But if they come back with a specific issue to say, "Look, I have an issue in relation to the fact that you're saying that I can't record it and I want to record this." At least then it flags the issue so you can have a discussion in advance, which is very helpful in that regard.

Preparing Evidence

The other considerations then are the importance of being prepared for your session. So, again, the paper trail is going to be vitally important. So when you're doing your paper trail in advance, you're going to be confirming with that employee all of the evidence that you are going to be relying on during your investigation. And if there is, for example, CCTV footage and you can manage to get that CCTV footage to the person in advance, then we're going to have to see how can we compensate for that. So how do we manage to come around the fact that you can balance the investigation without the person hasn't had an opportunity to view it? So oftentimes, you can get the information downloaded, for example, on a memory stick and get it posted to the person if they don't have, for example, technology to be able to accept a big file from retransfer, etc.

And again, because of GDPR, you're still conscious and careful of how you manage to get that information to the employee to facilitate then to have all the information they need to get that fair and comprehensive investigation.

Cross Examination

The other elements of the challenges that we're being faced with is cross examination as we get down the investigation and funnel to outcome, etc. And how we manage cross examination if it needs to be addressed or if there's other information that the person wants to put forward, I would say, facilitate as many meetings as you need to because the person can be disadvantaged because we're doing this remotely. So if that is the case that for some reason you feel that, for example, you can get the evidence to them are somebody wants to go and facilitate cross examination via Zoom call because they don't have the technology or they're not technology savvy. Those kind of blockages really mean that you potentially need to pause the investigation.

But if you are pausing it, I would document very clearly the rationale as to why and I would clearly say is, "We had been progressing with the investigation, this incident, this issue occurred and as a result of this, we made this decision to ensure fairness, reasonableness and the rules natural justice were achieved." Because what you don't want is somebody else coming back to say, "Well, look, I see in fact it was paused disadvantage me or calls me more stressed," etc. You're clearly outlining to them the thought process into consideration that you gave whatever they presented in relation to that.

I wouldn't be in favour of allowing written no correspondence in relation to responding to allegations. I feel that that might be fine from a supplementary perspective. But I don't feel that it meets the essence of what we're trying to achieve in terms of manage good processes in that regard. So make sure you reassess that to see how you might be able to ensure that you're not compromising in that regard.

Probationary Periods

I suppose the challenge of, for example, timeline. So for example, if somebody is on probation, one of the questions that came in, "Can we pause the probation or would we recommend dealing with the issue now?" So what I would do is if the person is working, I would flag to the person, "Look, we're making a decision as a company to pause everybody's probation. However, we are still going to, if employees are still working, well, then we still need to be giving them feedback and flagging concerns, but we are extending the probation. For example, if we were six months [in lockdown], we're extending it as a company up to 11, but we'll still continue to give you feedback during that process." Obviously, if you have employees who are on layoff, well, then we're not going to be in a position to give them feedback. So, again, we've extended their probation.

I'd be reluctant to let the extension go over the 11th month because obviously we’re into the unfair dismissals act. So again, if you've any of those, even if they are paused, I would just kind of keep a close eye on those and make judgments based on where you're at now, whether or not extending it is necessary, rather than maybe a blanket extension for everybody. So again, that's your company decision in relation to those employee issues.

Appeals

I suppose the other question that has come up a lot is if the person at appeal stage comes back and says, "Well, I didn't think the process was fair that I had to do it remotely versus face to face." And they did partake in the process all the way through and now they're at the final hurdle and they're using that as the main basis for their appeal. I think looking back at the appeal manager at the measures that the investigator or the outcome manager, etc., depending on the stages, took to show, okay, we've ensured you have the rules of natural justice, rather than just taking it just because it was remote I didn't have fairness.

So I would address that during the meeting to say at the start and at the end, "Is there anything you want to add or anything you feel that you didn't get the opportunity to contribute to today's session that you're concerned about?" And I'd make sure that I minute that so at least you have that in all the different stages along the way where the person is saying say, "No, I have no other concerns I was looking at at that time." So then the issue occurred maybe to do with the fact they're unhappy with the decision, etc. So I would add that additional caveat in it to go along to show that we did check all the way through. And also in your terms of reference, you can put in an additional paragraph if you want to say because this has been done remotely, if any party has any additional concerns, please raise them and we'll get them addressed.

And as those of you who know me know I'm a big fan of robust terms of reference because I think once the party sign up to good robust terms of reference from the outset that it really helps with the overall process. And it helps with the fundamentals afterwards that people potentially come back on.

Minutes of Meetings

So as we talked about the paper trail, one important element about this is ensuring that the notes are signed off by all the different parties and we won't have the facility for example to sign off notes in this regards. I have the benefit of having a PA who types faster than she writes as she says herself, so in the investigations I've done, I've had my PA on the call so that she has been typing the notes. And at the end of the call or the webinar or the Zoom or whatever you've done, you can facilitate the reading back of those notes at that time. And, again, record the fact the person hasn't requested any changes are actually asked to clarify the date in May was a different day to what was in the minutes, etc.

So, again, you have the opportunity of doing that then and then we can email the notes to them after the meeting and get them to sign them off virtually, and then at least you have the notes available. I wouldn't be making any changes in terms of representation. One of the questions that came in in relation to today's webinar was in relation to the representative now, would you be more flexible in relation to who you might allow based on the company policy? And the answer is no. If it is the case that the representative is a work colleague, it should be a work colleague, and we can dial them into the call. And, again, as I said, trial the technology beforehand. Like we've been using it for a long time for all these webinars, etc. But they are very user friendly. But obviously, you need to test it in advance to ensure that you are proactively managing the process along the way.

And I do think that this is going to be the new norm for quite a while. So on that basis, I think it's trying to ensure that we're using practical measures and technology and resources that's available to us in that regard. I would also say that when you finish the session, that you would remind the person that you appreciate that this is difficult for them. They have a lot more time on their hands for rumination, etc. And you would remind them of the employee assistance program. Remind them of any other supports you have in place from a mental health and a support perspective.

And also just remind them in relation to next steps of the process because it's important that the person feels that they're not just left to their own devices that they still have the normal supports they would have from HR, from company personnel, from employee assistance, company doctor, etc., during the process and also to remind them that it is being kept confidential and all the normal principles that we normally have in place will equally apply at this stage. So I'm going to take some questions from Rolanda and then we're going to just maybe conclude and summarise the key tips, but I think a lot of the other questions are coming up in your questions. So we'll address those as they come up in those.

Rolanda: Okay. Thanks, Caroline. So some very useful guidance there. And really what I suppose I'm getting from this is that we appreciate and as working HR people you appreciate there are going to be challenges in dealing with issues remotely. But what's important is to address those challenges at the outset so that they don't become a bigger issue at a later stage. So you're very clear and having a very clear statement to the person on confidentiality so that is out there clear if they are saying that they can't sort of guarantee that they'll have a quiet room until 5:00, then you'd be flexible about the times that you hold the meeting. So, I mean, there's a lot of suppose opportunities there with people because nobody is really having the same travel time. So people can be a bit more flexible with their time.

So lots of good guidance. So one question that came in, Caroline, you mentioned about not having too much in writing, but one person has asked, "Is it okay to have written questions in a disciplinary investigation?" Which you're perhaps provided to the individual and advancement along with the notification of the investigation, but to carry out the virtual hearing via . . . oh, sorry, I apologise to the person asking this question. I think what they're saying,

Question: Having Written Questions

"Is it okay to have written questions for the investigation but have the hearing via a sort of video conferencing?"

Caroline: Yeah. So personally, I wouldn't be given them the questions in advance because you want to make this as close to a real investigation as possible. And as you said, Rolanda, my whole advice is around takeaway any of the challenges or barriers or reduce or eliminate them as much as you can. I feel that if you were to give the questions to the person in advance, they'd nearly have scripted the answers. And that could be something that I can later stage, for example, the subject of the complaint are, I know, the party may say, "Well, look, this isn't fair because this basically all that happened was we gave the person the questions, they answered the questions and it was too prepared."

So I think you'd be much better off in . . . I allocate way too much time, like I would normally say, for example, "Look, we're going to do a two-and-a-half-hour session," which realistically might need two and a half hours. But I would start the investigation by going through in detail how are we going to run it? How is it going to operate? Remind the person on the terms the reference. Remind the person off the ground rules, which is still going to be respectful. It could be, you know, wouldn't your time, that you will get the chance to add in anything else you want. I go through the rest in terms of their role, etc. You know, and I would also explain that, "Look, if I asked you a question and you're unclear, please ask for clarification. If I asked you a question you don't know the answer, please say you can't answer that because you don't know the answer."

So I think you'd be better off not doing that, to be honest, for all the reasons of ensuring that our transparency and fairness to all the parties. And like some of the investigations we're doing are disciplinaries and disciplinaries are probably like generally based on evidence or we're giving the person the evidence in advance so they can be able to guess based on the evidence what likely questions we're going to be asking anyway. But when we're dealing with a grievance or a potential allegation of bullying or harassment or any of the other grievances that we may be dealing with, there's great merit I find in asking the question and the person answering the question immediately because that's where you end up getting the good stuff in terms of the real truth and you get the good information.

So I think I would refrain from giving out the questions, but I would definitely give them the evidence. And like I'm finding that even though your poll said grievances are quite low, I think part of that is because people don't feel it's business as normal to raise a grievance or maybe it's because they feel that at the minute it is what it is. But I'm noticing that there's a lot more grievances coming into companies this week. So without encouraging people to give you grievances, I would definitely send some correspondence or communication to people to say the virtual door of HR is still open. And if you have a concern, a grievance, an issue, please don't hesitate to engage and contact us at this time.

Because, for example, we've had people who've had grievances in relation to how they're being managed from a remote working perspective, we've had people who have issues in terms of workload. We have issues with people who, for example, the way the different subsidies that they might be on involves pay reduction, etc., for whatever reason. And again, there's all these things coming up, so I would say try and keep it as close to business as normal as possible and let the staff know that HR is working remotely but is working remotely for any issues, etc., and is there to support. I think the nice way of putting it is the virtual door of HR is opened as if we were at working. And I'm sure as the organisations are embracing that very positively.

Rolanda: Okay. So basically, for all stages, just try to adhere to your video conferencing, regardless of whether it's investigation stage or the actual hearing stage or the appeal stage and indeed at all stages then try to maintain some sort of face to face and kind of contact for this.

Question: Terms of Reference

Okay, you mentioned there about sort of talking about establishing the ground rules and somebody sent in a question which is probably quite useful.

So if necessary, can an advanced meeting/training session on the terms of reference content be done as a means of ensuring fair procedure, natural justice and so on?

You mentioned about the importance of they've been familiar with technology and ensuring the other people are familiar with the technology. So we're discussing the terms of reference a way to kind of establish that to help brief the person on what they can expect during this process.

Caroline: So I think that's really helpful. I think that's very wise. I think for a lot of people, investigations, discipline, grievance is new to them. And technologies equally new to a lot of people who may not be familiar with doing Zoom or doing Skype or GoToMeeting or whatever the case may be. So anything that you can do to help facilitate that I think all the better.

If it's a tech check, I would normally get somebody else to do it other than the person from HR who is managing the process for the reason that you want to allow, you know, fair process to occur. And sometimes they can start asking you questions that might be outside of scope if it was a case that you were to be the one who is doing the tech check as well. But I think there is really good feedback or benefit to be got in doing that. And so I think that would be really good. Yeah, it's a great suggestion. What I think is always the tech check, etc., I would let somebody else do it, which would be the only difference that I would do in that regard.

Question: Breaks During Hearings

Rolanda: Okay. Somebody made a good point here as well about during the disciplinary hearings, they would normally allow breaks for people to allow them. And do you think that's still a good idea to offer break during like a video conferencing session?

Caroline: Yeah, I think like as if you were doing it in a formal setting. Normally if I'm doing it virtually, I don't do it any longer than two, two and a half hours. And then I reconvene another two, two and a half hours if I feel it's beneficial or necessary. But I think that when you're doing it remotely, breaking, for example, for lunch for an hour or whatever the case may be, it means that everybody is dialling back in in the afternoon. So instead, it might be more practical to schedule it a slot of a couple of hours together. But I absolutely would facilitate breaks. But I find virtually two, two and a half hours, whatever it is, the virtual investigations tend to be more intense because you're focused on the investigation, you're focused on the technology, you're focused on what the person is saying, you're focused on the know. So even though in reality when you're doing it face to face, you're still the same thing. Yeah, so I think that's probably just a minor thing to just take into account.

Question: Training in Technology

Rolanda: Just a follow up, Caroline, to that question about sort of tech training and making sure people understand the process and what to expect. If you didn't do that, I mean, could that be viewed as a potential unfairness aspect of any subsequent procedures or follower rather any subsequent decisions that are made if you haven't provided that kind of technical training or awareness raising for the people involved?

Caroline: Yeah, I think that the technology piece and people coming back afterwards to say, "Listen, I wasn't comfortable using Zoom. And as a result, I didn't feel that I got the opportunity to clearly outline my case." That's why when you're doing the guidelines in advance and when you're doing the terms of reference, you're near covering everything in huge detail so that there can be no ambiguity afterwards for somebody to come back and say, "Well, actually, I didn't expect that it was going to be a visual, for example." Because you clearly outlined all of this in advance. And I think you could give people the option to say, "Look, if you haven't used Zoom before and you would like to do a trial-run, please let us know. But it needs to be done the day before not the day of." Because, again, you're adding an additional stress to the parties on the day of the session. And I would be doing it like 10 minutes before and then the call is at 2:00 for example and you're doing at 10 to 2:00 or something like that. Like I think all those kinds of barriers or challenges should be addressed well in advance.

So when you're doing the investigation or whatever stage of the process, whether it's meeting the witness that you're able to just concentrate on this. And I think those kinds of things make it a lot more effective. And also means that afterwards from a process point of view, we're able to stand over it a lot better than we would if, for example, there was that issue. Also, I would add, that is the person during the call was raised this like, "My Zoom is hopping in and out because of broadband or because of whatever," I would just say, "Okay, let's just pause and see can we fix this in whatever other way." Because oftentimes, by just turning off the video it actually works out fine. And then you can flick back on the video every so often.

So, again, I think you have to have the flexibility that you're troubleshooting and that's why it's important to get familiar with technology. So you're troubleshooting and you're flexible enough to say, "Look, we're going to do with virtually. But if the need occurs, we may need to turn off the camera. But ultimately, we're going to try and avoid that if we can at all." So those kinds of things. For some people, though their broadband isn't at the quality that will facilitate or allow or they don't have an arrangement at home. They might be sharing a house with a couple of others, etc. So in those scenarios, you're not going to go ahead. You're going to text in writing confirm, "Our intention was to do this remotely. However, the employee wasn't in a position to have a location that was confidential, that we could ensure GDPR was going to be facilitated and etc., etc." So that was the reason we paused it.

And again, as a result, you would have no concerns about timeliness or any of those concerns being raised at a later date because you're showing you tried and did everything you could to address it in a reasonable and fair manner. And as things progress, you can revisit that again then. And some of them, we just need to do them as calls because of maybe urgency or immediacy or necessity, etc. And that's okay too. And I suppose it's just you probably get more benefit out of them by doing them visually. But that's not a requirement or a necessity. It's more advantageous to you if it can be facilitated. But I think in the current environment, there's nothing perfect. And we have to kind of work with what we have in line with not compromising process.

So to me, I don't mind being flexible in whatever way I need to be. But I won't compromise the process, the rules of natural justice or ensuring it's a robust investigation. And I think that's kind of the key overarching element of what we've been covering today. So preempt in advance all of the what-if scenarios. Make sure that in writing you give all the guidelines to the person well in advance so that they know what to expect or what's going to be different. And last, there are no surprises to any of the parties that are involved but don't compromise process. Is that okay?

Question: Recording Meetings

Rolanda: Yes. Just one last question, Caroline.

You mentioned earlier about recording because a lot of the software facilitate staff. And somebody just asked a question about recording. And if you agree and you get consent to record because obviously there's benefits in doing that to get the notes typed up and all of that sort of thing. If you do you have consent, is it okay to obviously keep the recordings, do the minutes and then delete the recordings after that? Or what point would you get rid of the recordings?

Caroline: I suppose, again, you're going to incorporate that into your terms of reference to agree if you are going to be recording what is your process and, again, being very conscious of . . . for example, some people record to guess a stenographer to type the notes back so that they are verbatim notes. And if that's the case, if you're able to explain we will be giving them to the stenographer, this is how when she has the typed and the notes are deleted once they're signed off by all parties, for example. So I think you will be incorporating that into your process as you would be expected to do currently because, again, otherwise recordings become as we know, you know, quite a contentious issue in terms of people recording without consent, etc., which, again, if somebody is remote means we can't necessarily see or control if they are, but ultimately, ethically, you're agreeing to the principles and so are they. So it would be unethical for them to do that. But at the end of the day, it's hard to control those measures when they're outside of your circle of control at that moment in time.

Rolanda: Okay. Thank you very much, Caroline. There's loads of other questions coming in here but I'm sorry, folks, we just don't have enough time to address those. And obviously, I'll provide Caroline's contact details at the end of this. And if you have any queries specifically, she'd be happy to deal with them. Just before we finalise, the slide in front of you just outlines and the E-learning courses that Legal-Island is providing at the minute and there will be links to these in the post webinar going out to you. We have course some protecting yourself from working from home because I think one of the difficulties for people as you feel like you're not getting away from work because you're working from home. So it's important to be reminded of maintaining a distance between yourself and the workplace. Tidying up at the end of the day. Not sitting and looking at your laptop all the time. Those sorts of things.

And also data protection is an ongoing issue and we've got an E-learning course on that. And then we've also got a free Coronavirus awareness in the workplace course that obviously is free to all. Caroline's contact details are there if anyone has any specific questions that they want to follow up with Caroline. And as you know, she's very experienced investigator and she'll be more than happy to deal with any issues you have. And she can outline what her terms are in relation to a system of investigations and things like that. So thank you very much for your time, Caroline. We have another webinar coming up . . .

Caroline: My pleasure as always.

Rolanda: . . . on the 7th of May, I believe. I haven't got the date in front of me. I believe it's 7th of May. Just following on with similar issues. So thank you all very much for your time. And once again, Caroline, thank you very much for your time today. Thanks all now. Bye-bye

Caroline: My pleasure. Thanks, Rolanda.

  

This article is correct at 21/04/2020
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline McEnery. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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