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The title is big !! Sorry.

Seeking advice and views - this has happened to an employee I know of.

No job description was provided. Role definition was being done adhoc and goal posts changed. every action questioned by the supervisor via emails. The employee had a family situation regarding ill health and hospitalisation. The employee emailed her team leader notifying of the situation to  bear with her.

Probationary review meeting was set up last week after a month where the report contained managers comments already based on manager's "feelings" and 4 areas highlighted to develop where trivial mistakes were made purely due to circumstances but rectified since.

E.G.s of the triviality

Attention to detail: Delegate lists with no names had to be deleted which my colleague by mistake didnt delete but asked for information from course requester. Mistake rectified since then.

Prioritisation: B'day cards not sent out to trainers end of August although the team leader was notified on the purchase in Sept. Team leader accused the employee of not being able to prioritise as urgent even though she herself said it is not urgent.

The discussion was based around these 4 areas only and she said that the employee just needs to fine tune , that she understood the employee has had a difficult time. Employee asked about positive feedback, about JD but it was not given much thought.

The report was emailed to the employee last Monday with subjective comments and 4 areas of development was highlighted with 2 weeks to improve which wasnt discussed in the meeting.

The employee had a viral fever since Monday but still worked her hours without any mistakes. Yesterday she was asked to take a day off due to sickness and today she was called to be told she didnt fit the role - her experience and qualifications have nothing to do with this decision. The employee asked for concrete examples but team leader couldnt give any other than "you cannot think on your feet". When she talked to the MD, the employee mentioned about the unfair treatment and that she wasnt given any opportunity to evidence her work and that she got this call on the day of her being off sick. MD said that the employee wasnt a "fit". Her contract has been terminated ofcourse.

Do you think this is fair? Do you think an employee can be treated this way?

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  • Hi Spandita,

    It's probably not fair but as stated, unless the dismissed person is in a protected category, it is legal.

    We employ 100s of zero hours employees a year and only give them a 3 shift probation (not my decision); furthermore we aren't tolerant of new staff being sick, or cancelling shifts at short notice. It can be a grim working environment (and is the MAIN reason I started studying - to get out of the industry I'm in), but the people we let go this way have no redress. The counter-balance to this is we will give anyone a chance - the application form is completed during training! So people with questionable work histories or CVs that might be immediately rejected by more conventional employers simply aren't a factor - we'll train you and give you three shifts to get it.

    Sorry I can't offer anything more insightful!



  • Hi Spandita

    Thanks for the post in my experience as an HR professional working with SMEs the approaches which organisations take can vary significantly, it all depends on the context, its size, their resources, culture and working practices of the organisation.  Some employers will take a supportive approach whilst others will form a view very quickly if they do not think an employee long term is viable that they will seek to exit them.

    In reality the first two years; of employment is a 'probationary period' as the employee can not claim unfair dismissal until after this qualifying period.  Unless of course there is an automatically unfair reason for dismissal or a discrimnatory angle.

    I am quite pragmatic in situations such as this and think that sometimes everything happens for a reason, hopefully the employee will move on and find a new employer .

    All the best


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