A Proactive Approach For Employers

By Julie Goh

In discussions surrounding employment termination disputes, the pivotal question often revolves around what employers should do when faced with claims of unfair/constructive dismissal. However, a more critical inquiry lies in understanding the steps employers can take to PREVENT such conflicts from arising in the first place.

Challenges of Resolving Dismissal Cases
Undoubtedly, the resolution of dismissal cases consumes a substantial amount of time, stretching across court inquiries, multiple mediation sessions, and extended legal proceedings. This prolonged process not only burdens the company's resources but also detracts from the valuable time that could be better spent focusing on initiatives that promote the well-being of the organisation and its workforce. Additionally, it's a well-known reality that court procedures typically lean in favour of the employee, resulting in increased financial obligations for the employer, ranging from legal fees to the payment of back wages, compensations, and interest. This underscores the critical need for proactive measures to prevent such cases, saving both time and valuable financial resources for the company.

Critical Areas Prone to Mismanagement
To avert the detrimental implications of dismissal claims, it is imperative for companies to address critical areas prone to mismanagement:

  • Insufficient or improperly documented policies and procedures lay the groundwork for potential disputes and legal challenges.
  • Inadequate onboarding processes that neglect to provide clear communication of key performance indicators and job responsibilities can lead to misunderstandings and grievances.
  • Instances where managers act based on personal biases without proper HR oversight or intervention often result in contentious employment disputes.
  • Inadequate understanding among managers of their roles and responsibilities in managing underperforming employees can contribute to conflict and misunderstanding.
  • Failure on the part of HR to maintain accurate and detailed records of employee performance or behavioural issues may weaken the company's position in the event of legal disputes.

Strategic Measures for Prevention
Preventing unfair/constructive dismissal claims necessitates a proactive approach by employers, which entails the implementation of strategic measures: 

  • Establishing comprehensive and well-documented policies and procedures that adhere to labour laws and regulations.
  • Conducting thorough and informative onboarding processes that clarify job roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations from the outset.
  • Providing comprehensive training for managers on effective employee management and conflict resolution, emphasising the importance of adhering to established company protocols.
  • Enforcing a systematic approach to performance evaluation and documentation, ensuring that records accurately reflect employees' performance and conduct.
  • Encouraging a culture of open communication, transparency, and fairness across all levels of the organisation, fostering an environment where employee concerns are addressed and resolved promptly.

Fostering a Proactive Environment
Fostering an environment that prevents the escalation of industrial relation cases does not require an exhaustive memorisation of every clause within labour law and industrial relation regulations. Instead, it relies heavily on the application of logical reasoning, keen organisational skills, and a comprehensive understanding of employee relations dynamics. Additionally, effective conflict resolution, active listening, and the ability to communicate clearly and empathetically play crucial roles in mitigating workplace disputes and fostering a harmonious and productive working environment.

In conclusion, it is evident that a proactive stance in preventing unfair and constructive dismissal claims is the most effective and resource-efficient strategy for companies. By investing time and effort into implementing robust HR practices, companies can uphold the principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability, thereby fostering a workplace environment that prioritises employee well-being and organisational success.