Before our HR Assistant for Employee Relations, Aileen, was hired, I was the one handling it, on top of my CompenBen duties.
Employee Relations pertains to employee discipline, ethics, and events. Inspite of the toxicity levels, I enjoyed it. My 1.5 years were filled with controversial, well-celebrated issues. From grand sexual harassment, DOLE hearings, qualified theft, illegal lending of money, negligence to as petty as tardiness and absences, I was able to survive it all.
I had several ‘casualties’ too. Casualties are those who were terminated. We don’t terminate without due process, ha! That’s the hardest part.
Lemme share our process.
1. The sumbong.
Everything starts with a sumbong/report whether verbal or written, in a form of an Incident Report. This is crucial. We have to verify the authenticity of the report through step #2.
2. The Notice to Explain.
In here, the erring employee is given the chance and ample time (48-72 hours, depending on the gravity and extent of the violation) to explain his side and air his explanations to the allegations. Dito kami madalas mag argue ni boss. I am straightforward and harsh. Pero she doesn’t like flowery words. Haha. We have to be very careful in the choice of words. Gamit na gamit ang mga terms na ALLEGEDLY and APPARENTLY. An employee is also informed in advance that failure to explain his side on time may construe his right to an investigation, and we shall proceed with the only documents and evidences we have on hand.
3. The bloody investigation
For minor cases, HR handles it. An employee on AWOL for 3 days only receives a memo sent to his home address. For major cases, an admin hearing is conducted. Our Legal, Security, Operations and ISD are usually involved. Ang saya non. Don’t get me wrong, ha. Kasi I get to be a pseudo lawyer during this time. We also do arraignment, cross examinations, grilling and inquiries. An employee may opt to bring his own legal assistance, too. O di ba? Bloody talaga!
If we need to invite ‘outside forces’, we do. No matter how stressful this step is, we are expected to maintain a super duper mega over confidentiality. Kaya kahit parang sasabog na yung dibdib namin sa hirap ng kaso, smile lang. Walang lugar ang mga usisero at chismoso.
4. The Disciplinary Action
If the case involves money, we immediately place an employee to Preventive Suspension. There are 2 types of suspension, preventive and final. The first is made to make sure the erring employee won’t influence the investigation, or his presence may hinder the process. The latter already serves as his hatol.
Our DAs (Disciplinary Action) vary from a simple Stern Warning, Verbal Warning (still in a written form to document the case), 3-5 days suspension, 10-15, 30 days, and outright termination.
I’ll write in a separate post on how heart breaking to serve a major case disciplinary action.
There are a lot of legal implications involved, too. For example, an employee can not be on preventive suspension for more than 30 days, if we are unable to arrive at a final decision after that time, we immediately advise him that an extension is needed, not exceeding another 30 days, maximum of 60.
Let’s say the employee is placed in a preventive suspension for 30 days, and found not guilty, we immediately have to reinstate him back, and pay all his missed salaries, wages and benefits.
Through my ER stint, I also was able to build my image in the office. I gained the respect I deserve. People immediately respond to my emails, SMSs, calls. New rules and regulations are accepted with a very little resistance though with a lot of questions pa din.
One of our Assistant VP even told me that everytime he sees my name in his email, no matter what he’s doing, he has to drop it and comply. Hahaha.
I am thankful to my boss for giving me the chance to do it. Pero I am not the Martial Law type of ER. I gained more friends naman. I tell employees that HR is never their enemy. We are their allies. They can always approach us with ALL their issues and concerns, work related our not. Balance, it is.