OPINION: Much has been said about the onerous obligations that have been imposed because of the “good faith” provisions of the Employment Relations Act, writes Brian Richardson in Work to Rule.
Basically what it comes down to is that neither party to an employment relationship can do anything to mislead or deceive the other party. You must tell the truth and tell it “how it is”.
2012 is the year of the euphemism and jargon. You are no longer a “dustie” you are a “garbologist”; you are no longer a “receptionist” you are a “customer interface consultant”.
In these times of political correctness and general all round hand-wringing, it is nice to be brought back to earth by something that tells people as it is, as it should be and truthfully.
In The Southland Times recently there was the advertisement for “Weed Spraying - Wilding Tree Control”.
It was this advertisement that presents as fully complying with both the literal and philosophical intent of the act - the truth, the whole truth and no weasel speak.
“You will be Very fit Have a full driver's license Have a passion for conservation and the outdoors Be a NON-SMOKER Be prepared to work weekends (happily) (they could have said work happily full stop) Be prepared to work long hours (12 + a day) (good clear expectations) Be prepared to work away from home Mon-Fri Be prepared to sleep in huts, tents, woolsheds, under trees etc Able to wash, use deodorant and keep your personal hygiene to an acceptable level, this may mean washing/ showering in cold water (reality; tell them how it's going to be).
"This job is not for wimpy, faint-hearted, soft, ‘run-to-mummy' halfwits with pants halfway down their bottoms! (good specific person specification). We only want staff that will do as they are told by their supervisors (how many of us wish we'd said that in our advertisement or in the employment agreement?), follow company rules and can put up with being wet, hot, cold, exhausted, hungry and thirsty, and you also need to be able to sit in a van for three hours and not complain to us (we don't listen & we don't care). You need to be of a stature that you can walk around the hills and bluffs, and climb in and out small helicopters without terrifying the pilot. If this sounds like you, then you're probably completely mad and we would love to have you. Please phone . . . NO TEXTS."
What a relief. An employer who tells it like they want to see it.
There is no room to grizzle later that you didn't know what you were getting into.
This employer must have been to the latest “Employment Relations Act: briefing on good faith” and really taken it to heart. Good on them!
It is a salutary lesson though for everyone who drafts job advertisements. Keep to the truth, keep it in simple terms and don't say anything that isn't the truth. By telling the truth you can be humorous and present an advertisement that will only attract those you want to attract.
Try and produce an advertisement that avoids jargon where possible and doesn't use euphemisms.
“Handyman's Dream” may work in real estate but it has become so hackneyed and overused that it is just a euphemism for a “disaster site”. People begin to take the mickey and you lose credibility. The same thing happens for job advertisements.
Don't call a person a manager if they don't manage. Don't call someone a consultant if they don't consult. Don't hide the reality.
Sometimes if you are honest and upfront it creates such a surprise that you get commended for it, and even better you don't fall foul of the “good faith” obligations placed on both employers and employees.
Here's to employers writing “non-fiction” rather than “fiction” in their advertisements.
» Brian Richardson is an employment and human resources adviser at Preston Russell Law. E-mail questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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