Question :
I work in the Beauty industry & have a pregnant staff who claims she cannot work till level 1 due to distancing. We have zero active cases in our region and I have had to turn away all of her clients until she can return, even when she returns, I cannot guarantee her clients will return. She has children who are heading back to school and is not staying home during level 2, isn’t that just as risky as coming to work? Any tips or info would help thank you 

Question submitted 17/05/20 @ 07:20am
Industry: HR & Talent
  • Hi there. It sounds to me like she’s really anxious, and that may be for a number of reasons, including some deep-seated issues that she may or may not truly understand herself – so a gentle discussion where you listen to what’s going on for her is an important start. I have had a couple of vulnerable employees in a similar situation, and we’ve agreed that the company would pay for them to go to their GP and have the GP write to us with their professional recommendation about when the employee is best to return to work, and what reasonable steps we need to put in place to ensure their safety at work. You could also consider if there are other options available – could she take annual leave for a while, or could she take leave without pay? Is there a casual therapist who could step in while she is away if she is on leave without pay? If the concern is about being in close proximity to her clients, are there different duties she could do, or reduced hours, or special hygiene practices to make it super-safer? If the employee refuses to consider any of these ideas, or you have grounds to suspect this is just an excuse to not work, then you could take disciplinary action, but I would encourage you to do this as a last resort – and make sure you take specific advice from an experienced HR consultant or employment lawyer. If your clients hear about the situation, you want them to be impressed by the kindness and compassion you showed, but both you and your employee have an equal responsibility for finding a mutually satisfactory solution. All the best, Fiona

    Thank you for that. We wear masks and gloves, I feel she is just wanting to be paid and not be at work to be honest. Her risks she is taking out of work are no different that the raise at work. Like I said we have zero cases in our region. I’m getting really frustrated. I cannot find a casual to cover her, our clients will simply not see some person they’ve never met, so I am trying to cover some of her hours and then sending the remaining clients elsewhere, I’m simply loosing 50% of my business every single day she is not there, I’m really finding it mentally And emotionally hard holding the fort whilst she sits at home and travels out of town,sends her children to school, all whilst getting paid.

    I can imagine how frustrating and stressful that must be. If she really won’t come to the party, and you’re confident there’s no underlying issue to explain the behaviour, a harder-ball approach is to write to her, requiring her to attend work or submit a doctor’s certificate to explain her absence, and once any sick leave runs out, it’s leave without pay if you are willing, or she risks her employment being terminated completely due to abandonment of employment if she continues to stay away. If you want to go down that path I do encourage you to get some expert advice for your specific situation, where they will check the terms of your employee’s employment agreement and advise you on all your options. Paying for the advice to get it right from the start will cost you much less than paying to defend a personal grievance if the process isn’t handled appropriately. Best wishes.

    Thanks for that I am meeting with an HR specialist this week after having this conversation. Thanks again

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