James Goldman, Head of Employment & General Practice Advice at the BDA, outlines an employment issue you may be faced with as a practice owner and where to look for advice.
A practice owner is concerned that one of his nurses, who is pregnant, has to work on the first floor and climb the stairs several times a day. He tells her to work with another dentist who is based on the ground floor. She is unhappy. She liked working with the dentist on the first floor. After a while, the practice owner is struggling to understand why she is taking too much sickness absence. Is it really pregnancy related? The nurse convinces herself that the practice owner is unhappy with her and she finds the situation stressful. The practice owner thinks she is stressed because she has issues with her partner and starts to resent the fact his practice has to suffer because a member of his staff is unable to keep her private life out of the workplace.
Is sickness absence a symptom of bad management, or a symptom of an employee who just does not care? How do you deal with stress at work? Can you call staff when they are off sick? What about the practice, the patients and the remaining staff? Does the law care about them?
Relationship breakdowns between employee and employer start easily and can be problematic.
Formal disciplinary and grievance hearings are time consuming and stressful. But they can be an effective way of addressing issues in the employment relationship. It means both parties need to listen and understand. And at least one party will probably need to change their behaviour.
And there is a legal framework. When the relationship breaks down, the actions of the employer are sometimes scrutinised. The employer has to pay if they did not act within that framework, not the employee.
Keeping on top of financial affairs is a
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