HR pros learn Labour Law 101

Can an employee, who has used all of his annual sick leave and who then has a health-related affliction requiring considerable more time off from work, be terminated rightfully from his job even if he was warned in writing that further sick time off would result in termination?

That scenario was just one case study discussed during a workshop hosted by the Cayman Islands Society of Human Resource Professionals in cooperation with the Department of Employment Relations.

The workshop was called Labour Law 101: The cost of getting it wrong; tools to get it right.

CISHRP Director Samantha Nehra, who co-ordinated and moderated the workshop, said it was very popular.

‘This is the third time we’ve held this particular training course,’ she said. ‘It has been a sell-out every time.’

On hand to facilitate the workshop was Department of Employment Relations Director Walling Whittaker.

During the morning session of the workshop, the 30 participants had discussions on workplace motivational subjects, like on coaching techniques and how to prevent poor performances.

After lunch, the participants broke into three teams and discussed a series of case studies from the Labour Tribunal that Mr. Whittaker provided. Each team was to come up with an opinion on how the Tribunal ruled on the matter. The teams learned very quickly that matters taken to the Labour Tribunal are often complex, and that the Labour Law itself cannot answer everything.

‘It’s not all written in the Labour Law,’ said Mrs. Nehra. ‘We need sessions like this to discuss situations.’

Although most of the participants in the workshop were members of the CISHRP, some were not. Tony Reid, the owner of a construction company, thought it was important to know – as a business owner – more about interpretations of the Labour Law.

‘It gives me an idea of what my HR people might have to deal with,’ he said.

Mr. Whittaker said the workshop was a proactive way of dealing with difficult labour issues. Too often, business owners wait until something has gone wrong before they call DER for advice, he said.

Having a properly trained HR person is probably the best things businesses can do to keep them out of the Labour Tribunal.

‘The majority of unfair dismissal cases that come before the Labour Tribunal involve companies that don’t have HR managers,’ he said. ‘They fail to follow the right procedures. They fail to follow the Labour Law.’

Once a case goes to the Labour Tribunal, Mr. Whittaker said it costs employers an average $10,000 to defend the action. Workshops like Labour Law 101 can help employers save that money.

‘It makes sense to learn how to avoid it and to do the right thing,’ he said.

In the case study presented to the workshop attendees concerning the employee who had taken all of his annual sick leave and then had to take more even though he was warned it would mean his job, Mr. Whittaker said the Labour Tribunal ruled it was an unfair dismissal, primarily because the person’s illness was not permanently disabling.

That lesson was a costly one for the employer, but for the members of the CISHRP, it only cost the $75 price of the Labour Law 101 training session.

For more information about the CISHRP training programmes, visit www.cishrp.ky.

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