International HR Day: The Wild And Wacky Things You Never Thought HR Would Have To Deal With

Credit: Original article can be found here

You could be forgiven for thinking that HR’s role is
limited to hiring and firing. But there’s a lot more to HR
than that. In fact, in celebration of the upcoming
International HR Day on 20 May; we wanted to shine a
spotlight on HR professionals all over the world for whom no
two days are ever the same.

Peninsula Group provides
HR services to over 120,000 SMEs around the globe and they
have pulled together the wild and wackiest calls received by
advisors from group companies in Australia, Canada, Ireland,
New Zealand, and the UK.

Laurence McLean Associate
Director for Operations from Employsure
New Zealand
says, “HR can often get a bad rap, but the
job is extremely varied and rewarding. Just when you think
you’ve heard it all, we recently had a client calling in
to our advice line trying to sell his parrot – HR can handle
most things, but maybe it isn’t the best port of call when
trying to offload a feathered friend!”

“Believe it
or not, it’s all in a day’s work for HR! Let’s take a
look at some of the craziest calls received by our advisors
over the last year, and I’ll give my advice on how best to
handle them.”

Can I issue my employee with a
warning letter for wearing the same perfume as

“Of course, it can be a minor annoyance
when someone wears the same item of clothing as you, has a
similar hairstyle or wears the same perfume. But it’s
definitely not warning material! You can only issue warnings
when an employee’s conduct or performance falls below what
is expected, and wearing the same scent does not fall in to
either of these categories. Instead, put it down to the fact
that your employee shares your own great

We fundraised for our employee’s
cancer treatment however, we found Facebook photos of her
holidaying in Thailand when she was on sick leave to receive
What can I do?

face value I can certainly see why this has raised a red
flag to you. But still, it’s important not to jump to
conclusions here. Did the employee undergo cancer treatment
in Thailand? While that’s likely not the case, you must
carry out a full investigation to find out all the facts
before deciding on your next steps. If it appears that you
or your employees have indeed been bamboozled, then this
would amount to theft and should be reported to the police.
There’s also the matter of falsifying reasons for sick
leave which could amount to serious misconduct and,
potentially, dismissal.”

Can I pay my
workers half in cash and half in food, if I can prove that
the value of food is of equal value? I can attach the food
pricing to their payslip.

“No, you
absolutely cannot do this. Times might be tough right now
for businesses, but that doesn’t mean you can underpay
employees. You must pay their full agreed wages as laid out
in the contract of employment. It’s worth noting that
paying less than minimum wage can – and often WILL –
result in successful claims against the employer, resulting
in fines and reputational damage. If you want to help
employees by providing food, then that’s great but it
should be in addition to and not at the expense of, their
full contractual pay.”

My employee has
called in sick because his cat is sick, and the vet has
given him a medical certificate for the

“There is no statutory entitlement for
time off, paid or otherwise, on compassionate or bereavement
grounds for pets. However, a situation like this is down to
the employer’s discretion. For many of us, pets are an
extension of our family, and any serious illness or loss
will be felt deeply. You may want to consider allowing
temporary home working if an employee needs to care for a
pet. Other options could be swapping shifts with a colleague
or allowing them to take unpaid leave for a specified
period. Again, this is entirely discretionary.”

employee is a bit of a downer; can I terminate them for not
being happy at work?

“While employers can dismiss
employees whose behaviours are in violation of company
policies and/or have a detrimental impact on their
colleagues, you would have to show evidence that you have
taken all possible steps to fix the issue before taking any
action. Being ‘a bit of a downer’ is not likely to meet
those conditions.

“Rather than looking to terminate
someone for being unhappy, I’d look at the reasons behind
their unhappiness. It might be that they have concerns about
their role or the company or have something going on in
their private life that is causing them to withdraw. Talk to
them privately, assure them that their wellbeing is of
paramount importance, and try to find out the reasons behind
their unhappiness. If they have concerns about their work,
then look at any reasonable adjustments that can be made.
And don’t forget to let them know of external support
offered via your Employee Assistance

“These are just a few examples of the
types of calls our advisers receive and at the end of the
day, there is no such thing as a ridiculous question. We
believe that it’s always best to be over informed than
under informed as a business owner. Navigating New
Zealand’s workplace relations landscape can be very
stressful for many employers, and that is why at Employsure
we believe in providing the right advice at the right
time,” concluded

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