Ron's Mighty Pen

The Mighty Pen

We all understand the need for clarity.

To be understood and to know what is expected of us and what we expect of others. We expect that if we buy a house, a car, or take out a bank loan, that we will have to sign some documents that set our obligations and responsibilities. Well, ok, perhaps not the bank loan!

Our legal system is based on written documents handed down through legislature, through statute, decisions, rules, standards and guidelines.

So how come we don’t get it right when we employ people? How do we expect the employee to understand us if we take them on over a handshake or because we had a cup of coffee together? Not that there is anything wrong with a handshake and a cup of coffee: our ‘gut feel’ and intuition should be a guide, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go a step further.

In my experience dealing with numerous industrial grievances and disputes over 30 years, is that when things go wrong in the workplace, history gets re-written. The casual who enjoyed the flexibility to come and go as they please now has a new found revelation that upon termination he, or she, was really part time and wants an increased share of the wages pie. The repeat performance offender claims to have never been counselled. The manager who approved a pay rise now denies it was as black and white.

We are all human and we love to tell a story. The more the story makes us look good at someone else’s expense, the better, especially if it’s the bosses expense. There are so many warnings signs for us all and yet I still find examples of businesses taking on new staff, or dealing with workplace issues, without any documentation.

There are many areas within the workplace where the pen will dominate: applying proper recruitment procedures; implementing an effective induction; recording an employee’s personal and payroll details; setting out the terms and conditions of employment; implementing a performance system; issuing warning letters; outlining the business’s policies and procedures; advising of health and safety processes. Importantly, some use of the pen will assist in meeting regulatory requirements, especially in the areas of employment, health and safety and worker’s compensation compliance.

Having easily understood and clear documentation around workplace practices will assist everyone understanding their obligations, responsibilities, rights and entitlements and will go a long way to reducing grievances and disputes.