Tag: BOSS

By Jack Needham for Wired

A survey from Morgan Stanley’s research unit AlphaWise, conducted in mid-July, found that only 34 per cent of UK ‘white-collar’ workers had returned to work, and for city workers that’s only one in six. As the BBC also reports, 50 of the biggest UK employers have no plans to ask all staff to the office full-time in the near future.

Workplace anxiety may be the driving factor in this. A ManpowerGroup survey, published last week but carried out in June, found that staff in the US and UK were both less confident about returning to work and more fearful of a second Covid-19 wave compared to Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, Singapore and Spain.

It begs the question, why return at all? Sally Carthy, director of client services at the Stafford firm Carthy Accountants, recently took the decision to get her team of 15 back into the office. She points to a few reasons why. After months of virtual meetings Zoom fatigue had set in deep – “our clients wanted to come into the office to see people,” she says – and almost half of her team requested to be back at their desk before their proposed return date of August 3, yearning for the “camaraderie” Carthy says the office provides.

Some staff members lived by themselves and found their lockdown 9-5 far too lonely, says Carthy, and others in the early stages of their careers felt they were lacking guidance and supervision.

For the most part it’s been business as usual, with the only major changes being an office one way system and extra cleaning duties. Still, Carthy experienced some pushback from staff. “Some found working at home to be enjoyable, became very used to working in home clothes and expressed some reluctance to return to the office,” says Carthy. “They all came back without too much trouble.”

Returning to the office was compulsory for staff, however Carthy says she “would have responded appropriately had anyone had specific health or other reasons for not returning”.

Given that they have worked productively from home since March, many office workers may believe the rush to go back to the office is pointless.

The figures are persuasive: although working from home fatigue is setting in, a study from social media platform Buffer, and job site AngelList! found that 98 per cent of people would like the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers. That may be down to increased productivity, a better work-life balance or the fact that, as a recent survey conducted by Culture Shift found, 26 per cent of tech workers are receiving passive-aggressive comments less often.

Working from home also helps stop the spread of the virus. A study from the University of Sussex found that a 30 per cent reduction in workplace interactions is forecasted to result in a 62 per cent reduction in new infections and a 54 per cent reduction in new deaths by the end of 2020, compared with no additional interventions.

Nobody wants to breath recycled air during a pandemic but raising safety concerns to a superior is a daunting task, and convincing your boss to let you stay at home and avoid a packed 7am pacer train is a hard sell. Can you refuse to return?

“If an employee is worried about catching coronavirus by going into work then they should talk to their employer as early as possible and discuss what options may be available,” says Tom Neil, senior adviser at ACAS, an independent advisory for employer and employee rights.

Neil suggests that this could include continued working from home, changing working hours or looking at other flexible working arrangements. If concerns can’t be resolved through an informal chat then it is possible for employees to raise a formal grievance, which must be followed if an organisation has a grievance procedure.

Concerned employees can also contact their HR department or union, if they have them.

To avoid staff mutineers, Laura Kearsley, partner & solicitor at Nelsons law firm, suggests that employers must be open with employees about safety measures, share risk assessments to reassure employees and take employee concerns on board before the doors open. “This is likely to be more effective than a blanket instruction to attend or an outright refusal to do so,” she says.

If all that fails, however, then the law is on the side of the employer. “Employees will usually be in breach of their employment contract if they refuse to attend work,” says Neil. “If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason it could result in disciplinary action.”

Ultimately, the employers have the power, so the best advice is to hope yours are good ones. If they’re not, then employees may be nervous about approaching the question of working from home for fear of retaliation, which could have wider consequences.

“Covid morbidity is going right under the radar in many cases,” says Andrew Watterson, professor of health sciences at the university of Stirling. He explains how staff who are forced to return to the office may not disclose Covid symptoms for fear of dismissal or loss of work, especially those in precarious or zero hour jobs. “There are good employers, but the bad ones may force workers to cover up sickness because sick pay is poor, benefit support is inadequate and furloughing and other schemes are ending.”

This could put employees in “double jeopardy” says Watterson, placing them at risk of contracting the virus in offices while encouraging them to continue working when sick. But rushed return to work measures could also hit businesses where it hurts: financially.

If an employee contracts Covid in the workplace they may be entitled to take their employer to civil court for negligence or harm caused in the workplace. A successful case would be difficult to achieve, though. An employee would need to prove they had been exposed to Covid in their workplace and Covid-19 is not yet classed as an occupational disease which, if it were, would help workers gain compensation if they contract it.

Within this minefield of grey area legislation and workplace pressure, people have little option to follow the rules and avoid posting incriminating evidence on social media.

By Lauren Schumacker for Business Insider US

Leaving a job, no matter the reason, can be difficult and bittersweet. When possible, you’ll want to try to leave on good terms with your soon-to-be former employer and fellow employees.

Here are some tips for leaving your current job without wrecking your office relationships.

1. Make sure you tell your boss before you tell your colleagues

When you make the decision to leave, it can be tempting to share that news with your friends at work, but it’s important to tell your boss first.

“Let your boss know as soon as possible after you’ve made the decision to leave,” Molly Hetrick, a credentialed coach and workshop facilitator, told Insider.

“Regardless of your existing relationship, it’s important that your boss have time to digest the news, and that you have time to wrap up your work.”

2. Give plenty of notice

Chances are, you already know how much notice you should generally give your employer before leaving your current gig. If you guessed one week, you’re right.

“If you are not rushed to begin your next opportunity, consider offering more than the standard notice,” Monica Yeckley, a healthcare recruiter and staffing professional for Vaco Memphis, told Insider. “If you have proven to be a valued resource, replacing you will probably be difficult.”

If you’re jumping from one position to another, however, a month is enough notice to give and you might not want to give more than that.

Dave Sanford, the EVP of client relations WinterWyman, wrote that staying longer than the period can be difficult for your new boss and company to handle and can be confusing or disrespectful. It’s up to you to gauge the situation.

3. Make sure the coworkers you want to keep in touch with will have a way to reach you

“Give them your new contact information, connect with them on LinkedIn, whatever – be sure to reach out again once you have left your position,” Lisa Sansom, the owner of LVS Consulting, told Insider.

“Don’t be offended if they don’t stay in active touch – we all know that life can get busy. Just a nice email after you have left to let them know that you appreciated your time working with them, what you enjoyed about your connection and time together, etc, can say a lot.”

4. Explain your reasons for leaving in a positive and constructive manner

Above all, make sure that you keep your exit positive. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t explain your reasons for leaving, however.

“When announcing to your manager that you are quitting, be clear on your reasons for doing so, and do not blame other people or talk about petty things, like if you didn’t like the coffee in the common kitchen,” Sansom said. “Talk about what you are looking forward to in the future, and what you learned from this organisation that you will take forward with you.”

5. Let your boss know that you’re leaving in writing, not just verbally

You might think that telling your boss in person or over the phone that you’re moving on to something else is preferable to writing, but it’s still a good idea to get things written down.

“Prepare a concise and well-thought-out letter in hand, and remember to say ‘thank you’ to your employer for the opportunity,” Yeckley said.

Your letter doesn’t need to be lengthy or all-encompassing, just something that explains what’s going on while acknowledging your gratitude for the opportunity.

6. Make a list of all of the things that you currently do in your position

Since your boss might not know exactly what you do each day, it’s good to be clear about everything you did while you were there, Hetrick said.

Before you leave, make a list of what you currently do – all that falls under your job description and anything that you did that’s outside of your typical responsibilities – so that the team knows what needs to be covered and the person coming in after you has a clear idea of what they need to do.

7. Offer to help find someone to fill your role

If appropriate, it’s also nice to offer to help the company find someone to fill your current role.

“Leverage your connections and referral network to find people who can bring the same expertise on the table as you did,” Ketan Kapoor, the CEO and co-founder of Mettl, told Insider. “Assist your boss or recruitment teams to find a competent hire as your replacement soon and watch your trust quotient skyrocket.”

If you offer to help find someone new and the company declines your offer, that’s fine, at least you know that you tried to be considerate instead of leaving them in the lurch.

8. Make your colleagues’ lives easier, not harder

“Make sure you leave excellent documentation for your colleagues who will pick up your work when you’re gone,” Hetrick said. Remember that other people will have to cover your work after you leave until someone else is hired to replace you.

Being as considerate as possible of that when you’re preparing to leave makes you look better than if you leave all sorts of unfinished business and unorganised files behind.

9. Stay positive on social media, too

Don’t be overly negative when speaking to your boss or anyone else at your current company about why you’re leaving, but don’t vent or complain online, either.

“People also tend to vent on social media – even if it’s ‘vaguebooking'” – and that shouldn’t ever happen,” Sansom said. “First of all, it’s bad for your professional reputation. Secondly, most people don’t remember who can see their posts – are you sure you don’t have any coworkers or colleagues who can see that?

And then, if it is on someone’s screen, anyone can take a screenshot and send it along to your boss, for example. It can come back to bite you so easily – now or at any time in the future. Nothing is safe or secure or private out there. Nothing. So don’t vent on social media. Don’t even vent when you think you’re hiding all of the details. Just don’t.”

It’s not worth burning that bridge or ruining your own reputation by carelessly venting on social media.

10. Keep working hard until your very last day

After you’ve announced your intention to leave, it can sometimes be tempting to slack off a bit, but if you’re hoping to leave on a good note, working hard until your last day is a better way to go.

“Treat your final days like any other typical day and perform no differently than if you weren’t leaving,” Yeckley said. “It’s understandable that you’re thinking toward the future and [are] excited about your new endeavour, but continue to produce and give it your all. A good lasting impression will keep that bridge from burning.”

Social media is part of the modern fabric of interaction, with some reports suggesting that 66% of users spend time checking social media accounts while at work.

Industry tracker Mediakix suggests that popular platforms YouTube and Facebook consume one hour 15 minutes per day.

But when you leave your company, who owns your Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or even Gmail account? Legal experts in SA say the law is not clear.

“This is a grey area, and it would really depend on a thorough investigation of the history, purpose and origin of the social media account in question,” Pamela Stein, head of Employment Law at Webber Wentzel told Fin24.

“In order to demonstrate ownership, the employer would have to show that the social media account was clearly created for the purposes of promoting the growth of the business, and that this growth was achieved by social media activity generated during company time.”

Personal information

She added that factors over the ownership of a social media account would depend on whether the account had been created as part of the employment contract, or for the purpose of growing the organisation’s profile.

Unlike a company cellphone, computer or car, a social media account does not only exist on a mobile device, and the law assigns protections of personal information, as described in the Protection of Personal Information Act, which forbids unwanted sharing and exploitation of personal information.

“You have rights over your identity. However, if there was a clause in the contract of employment saying any personal account created during their employment is the property of the employer – perhaps the employer would have rights to it,” specialist technology attorney Russel Luck told Fin24, though he was careful to agree that the matter is not a settled one under South African law.

“If these accounts were set up so the employee could engage with the public as an extension of his work services, then perhaps the employer would have rights over it. Even more so if the email address used to verify the social media account is a work email, not personal one,” he added.

This reflects a US case in which Phonedog sued former employee Noah Kravitz over marketing on his Twitter account. The company alleged that 17 000 Twitter followers Kravitz had amassed was a customer list and demanded damages of $340 000.

A News24 survey revealed that 53% of social media users accessed the platforms while at while at work, and 3% said they would like to, but were not allowed.

Personal logins demand

Stein said that in SA, an employer seeking to claim a social media account would have to show just cause.

“Firstly, the employer would have to establish a basis for such a claim, and then sue the employee in the appropriate court depending on the cause of action.

“The employer could seek an order prohibiting the employee from any further use of the social media account and requiring the employee to take all reasonable steps to return the social media account to them.

“In addition, all social media sites allow users to report breaches et cetera and once such an order is obtained the social media platform could be notified and requested to assist.”

However, Luck argued that for a local company to demand personal logins to social media accounts would be a contravention of South African law.

“On the other side of the coin, SA law does follow international trends that you don’t need to give your employer your login details to your personal Facebook account – ie it’s unlawful to force an employee to do this.

“Where employers are making employment, promotion, dismissal or labour decisions based on access (or lack of access) to the personal Facebook account of an employee it would amount to unfair discrimination.”

Source: Fin24

An employer can dismiss a worker for inappropriate, insensitive and racist content posted on social media, even if it does not have anything to do with the employer or company, says Werksmans Attorneys.

Company director Bradley Workman Davies explains that this was because companies could face a backlash from customers, prospective customers and other stakeholders because of association, through the employment relationship, with the social media content of employees.

“As such, employers are entitled to be concerned about and to take action for inappropriate content posted by employees, as this has a potential to harm the business of the employer,” Davies says.

“Equally, employees should realise that in the digital age, with regards to the employment relationship, nothing posted publicly is private or irrelevant,” he adds.

In recent weeks, several incidents made headlines when employees were fired or suspended for their social media posts, which employers deemed inappropriate, insensitive or racist.

One of the more prominent incidents was that of media personality Gareth Cliff who was booted off the Idols show for tweeting on freedom of speech during the Penny Sparrow race debacle.

Cliff had tweeted that people did not really understand freedom of speech, which led people to assume that he supported Sparrow’s right to label black beachgoers as monkeys.

Cliff lodged an urgent application in the High Court in Johannesburg and on Friday M-Net was ordered to re-instate him.

eNCA news anchor Andrew Barnes was also given a two-week suspension last month after he mocked Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s pronunciation of the word “epitome”.

After receiving backlash on social media, he issued a public apology to the minister.

Action against an employee did not necessarily happen because of a breach of contract through their conduct, but because the employment relationship was based on trust. It could also be based on the broader category where the conduct could be seen to have the intention or effect of breaking the trust relationship between the two parties.

Davies explains that employers always had to afford the employee the right to make representations as to whether they were guilty before taking a decision on what action, if any, would be taken against an employee.

Davies says an employee’s social conduct outside of the workplace could also have an impact on the working relationship.

“This is a recognised principle of South African labour relations, which was acknowledged even under previous iterations of the Labour Relations Act (the 1954 Labour Relations Act, replaced in 1995), and applied by the Industrial Court historically.”

Davies used the example of an employee of Nehawu who was fired after being found guilty of misconduct after he consumed alcohol after hours while at a union congress.

“In this case, the adjudicator found that ’employees are considered to be employees 24 hours out of 24 hours at a congress’ and therefore, after hours consumption was as good as consumption during working hours.”

In another incident, an employer chose to fire colleagues who had had a fight outside of working hours.

“[This] resulted in a strained working relationship and the inability of a continued employment relationship,” Davies says.

He explained that the employment relationship was based on an inherent basis of trust and good faith and any action which caused a break in that relationship could justify the dismissal of the employee.

The same applied when an employee made a direct reference to his employer or colleague on a social media post.
Davies highlighted that the constitutional right to freedom of expression was not absolute. It was limited by Section 36 of the Constitution.

“It is important that when a person exercises the said right, she does not encroach on other person’s rights,” he says.

By Naledi Shange for News24

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