WNA Blog

Wed 20 Feb 2019

Mind your P’s & Q’s

Human Resources and Career Advice
It doesn’t matter whether you are an Employer or an Employee; you need to mind your language.

If you are an Employer and you lose your temper on a regular basis and use inappropriate language in the workplace, your staff may have the right to leave and claim Constructive Termination.  

Constructive Termination means that someone has resigned because the relationship has broken down irretrievably.  In this instance, they were uncomfortable working with you and had no choice but to resign.  The upside of this is that the Employee would need to prove their case, which means they need to prove that you were using bad language and the environment was one they could not work in anymore. If you lost your temper and utilised bad language on a regular basis, the person could subpoena the other staff at the hearing and they would be sitting before a judge and they would have to tell the truth, being that you regularly lose your temper and utilise bad language. If the Employee has proven their case and you may be required to pay a substantial fine, plus you may be required to compensate the Employee for loss of their job. This is a very expensive way to learn to mind your P’s and Q’s.  

The other side is where an Employee utilises bad language in the workplace. Whilst as the Employer may be tempted to show them the door, you need to be careful, for they could have a unfair dismissal case against you if you do not have appropriate policies and procedures on acceptable workplace speech and behaviour (including what happens when these standards are violated). The Employer may have justifiable and reasonable evidence but they need to ensure they have considered all the facts of what policies they have in place and what the Employee is aware of before they make that decision.   

You, the Employer need to ensure you have these policies and workshops in place prior to terminating the Employee and the termination still needs to be conducted in the right manner, as per the Fair Work Act.  Terminations are tricky and an Employer should always obtain advice before they head down this path.  

Some years ago, Karen worked for a Media Company and one of the staff was losing his temper, wore black t-shirts and jeans, and generally lacked professionalism. After a chat or two about his language and his wardrobe, he improved in both areas.  He is now the National Manager of Operations for that company.  He is probably very pleased that he watched his P’s and Q’s and purchased a new wardrobe.   

So, the moral of the story here is, if you lose your temper, go for the old, count to 10 and leave the room. Never scream in the presence of anyone.   

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