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Employers urged to work on communication skills

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Employers urged to work on communication skills

Search form Search Main menu Home News Business Sports Columns Contact Us E-Paper Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.

Jeber Barreto

Employers urged to work on communication skills Sat, 06/20/2020 – 5:30am HR managers told to bring humanity to management structure MINISTER of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, is urging employers to work on their communication with their employees

His comments came as he joined the debate on the Severance Payment Act, which was debated in the Lower House on Tuesday night

He remarked that the decisions taken by the Government went through a consultative process, which he lamented is not being done by management in many organisations

“One of the examples of poor communication that came to my mind quite forcibly was the view that communication with workers should be done by the trade union. I was forced to say then and I am going to say it now, that any organisation that employs workers has the responsibility to communicate with those workers; the responsibility is not that of the trade union

“If I employ people, I have a responsibility to them. And that responsibility is not to be given to anybody else; just like we tell parents that the role of parenting is not the role of the teachers. The role of communicating with the workers, those adults who work with you, is yours if you have employed them. That has to be a communication of the good and the not so good

“What we saw coming through on our consultation was that some employers seem to have a challenge communicating bad news while wanting a favourable response. And that says to me that there is not a culture of communication.  Because if there is a culture of communication, you can sit and dialogue with people and be able to explain your situation and ask for buy-in.”

The Labour Minister also made it clear that Labour laws are still in place, in spite of the emergency situation facing the country

“There is in the minds of quite a number of employers that in emergency situations, their own responsibility is to write a letter to the Chief Labour Officer saying they are going to lay off some of their workers. I want to be very clear and I have said it to the private sector and I want to say it to the country. In the Employment Rights Act (ERA), and let me remind employers…, that the pandemic, the Public Health Emergency legislation, does not get rid of the pieces of legislation that are on the books in this country.”

He noted that in the ERA, Section 38 Subsection 7C, speaks to consultation and the steps that are to be taken in laying off workers

“7C speaks to special circumstances where it is not possible to have the six-week consultation and all the other things that are required, but this clause, Mr. Speaker, says that where in any case there are special circumstances which render it not reasonably practicable for the employer to comply with any of the requirements of paragraph A and B, the employer shall immediately consult with the Chief Labour Officer and take all steps toward compliance with that requirement as are reasonably practicable in all the circumstances

“I am saying to managers of businesses that ‘consult’ means ‘consult’. I shouldn’t have to say that to intelligent people, but I realise from the discussions we have had that I do have to say that to intelligent people. ‘Consult’ means ‘consult’. Consultation is not written in a letter, putting in the post or getting your messenger to deliver. That is informing. The legislation speaks to consultation and it says you will do whatever is reasonably practical

“…Because the action that says ‘all I have to do is send a letter and tell you you have to go home’, tells me there is a lack of respect in some quarters for the dignity of the human beings who work in some organisations

Jordan, who says he has worked in people management for quite some time, says he observed that over time there has been a desire for persons who call themselves or are designated as Human Resources managers to find their place in an organisation

“…HR managers have tried over quite a while to get into what is seen as the top layer of management. And what I have realised, Mr. Speaker, to my mind an unfortunate direction being taken where those officers who should be the officers that a worker can turn to when that worker feels down, feels offended, feels taken advantage of, there are too many HR managers who try to be rougher than the general manager to prove to the general manager that they are part of the organisation

“I just want to say to the HR management. There is no need to try to prove your value by being tough and rough to workers. Your role is not to be tough and rough; the general manager, managing director, the CEO’s role is not to be tough and rough. The role of the HR manager should be not just to the workers, but to bring a sense of humanity to the management structure of an organisation and I want to appeal to human resources managers, people development managers across this country to be in the vanguard of bringing humanity to any management structure that does not at this time recognise the full humanity of workers. Be in the vanguard. Lead the charge. Do the right thing, the human thing and treat workers in this country as the human beings as they are,” he urged. (JH)