OPINION: I went out the other night to a function showing more cleavage than I had for a while (actually showing more cleavage than I have in my entire life), writes Mary-Jane Thomas in Work to Rule.
As luck would have it, my mother arrived just as I was dressing.
Initial effort by mother to get me to change my dress - will you be warm enough? Yes mum.
Change of tactic to get me to cover up - would you like to wear a "stole"? No mum.
More proactive attempt by mother to protect family name - goes away into spare room and comes back with a knitted crochet thing that looks good on her. Would this look good over your dress? No mum.
Relying upon scare tactics - are you sure that you will not have an accident and "pop out" (repeated several times)? No mum.
Final attempt - it really should have a safety pin here, to which she grabbed offending neckline, pulling it together so that only my clavicle was showing.
I, of course, knew as soon as my mother arrived that the "are you warm enough" conversation would take place. Even I, however, was taken aback by her relentless attempts to protect my modesty.
We often do this in employment law, don't we. We do not get to the point. If my mother had said to me "Mary-Jane, you look common" or "Mary-Jane, you are too old to dress like that" or "Mary-Jane, cover yourself up, you look like a slapper" I would still have worn the dress. But at least I could never argue that I thought she was concerned about me contracting pneumonia, or that she was genuinely concerned that I might have an "accident".
Discussions with employees need to be clear. If you are raising with an employee something about their behaviour or performance, then it needs to be made very clear to the person the following: Exactly what is the behaviour/ issue that you are concerned about. Employees are not prescient - tell them exactly what is concerning you. Do not beat around the bush. Often employees will be genuinely surprised to discover that they are doing something that is causing an employer concern.
What is the consequence of this behaviour continuing - is it something that might lead to a disciplinary matter such as a warning if matters do not improve? This allows employees to know that you are serious about the concern and lets them remedy it before things turn into formal warnings. The sooner an employee knows things are getting "off track", the sooner they have the opportunity to fix it.
What are you asking the person to do/improve upon/stop doing? Let the person know exactly what they need to do to fix the problem. Let people know exactly what it is that they need to improve on.
Using a questionable segue, we are coming up to calving and employees will be working long hours. Please remember that the minimum wage relates to each pay period and is not averaged over the year.
Someone paid fortnightly who works 150 hours in a fortnight must be paid 150 hours at at least the minimum wage. Employers need to check that they are "topping" salaried workers up over this busy period, if they are working hours that would mean they are receiving less than the minimum wage ($13.75 per hour).
» Mary-Jane Thomas is a partner at Preston Russell Law. E-mail questions to email@example.com.
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