Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

DIY, HR or Employment Lawyer for ER issues?

With an ER issue – when should you DIY it, use external HR advice or get an employment lawyer involved? Here’s an easy checklist of what to consider.

Work through each section and decide if you’d say yes or no. If you get 3 or more that are yes, then that’s probably the best approach to take! If they are mostly no’s then have a read of the next section as that one may apply.

When to DIY it      

  • It’s an issue your company has dealt with successfully before
  • Either yourself or someone in the HR team is really confident in how to handle this and has handled it before
  • The manager dealing with the issue is excellent at following HR advice and dealing with strange challenges or situations that can occur during a process
  • The employee is reasonable and will understand the issues
  • It’s a poor performance or misconduct issue only so will only result in a PIP or first warning

When to use external HR advice

  • Your company hasn’t dealt with this before and you would like to hear how other HR teams have handled a similar situation
  • No-one in the HR team feels confident with the process or discussions and you’re not sure what other HR processes or policies you need to link with
  • The manager dealing with the issue may panic or not be confident and will need HR to be strongly involved (and an external HR person might be received better)
  • The employee may get upset or angry and having an external person present to mediate will help the situation
  • The issue may end up being serious misconduct or a final warning or dismissal and you may end up discussing a settlement or exit

When to use an employment lawyer

  • Things have got complicated and you want to compare your situation to other employment law cases and get an official legal opinion
  • The team feel confident leading the process but you will need a legal opinion for the CEO or senior management team to take it seriously
  • The manager involved will not listen and so may need to see the legal advice and possible outcomes and see that it’s serious
  • It’s likely the case will end up in a settlement or mediation so you want to check you’ve done everything you could
  • You may need to have a legally privileged discussion so will need a lawyer to represent you

I know over my career I’ve taken different approaches – and hope this checklist gives you some guidance on what approach might work best for your situation!

If you decide you need external HR advice you’re welcome to contact our Head of HR consulting, Lisa Hunter on If you realise that you need an employment lawyer and don’t have a company you use, we partner with LangtonButcherHudson who specialise in just employment law. We’d really recommend getting in touch with Angela Evans on

On that note in March next year myself and Emma Butcher from LHB are going to present at the CCH ER Summit on the difference approach HR takes from employment lawyers in different situations. I’m looking forward to it as I don’t think it’s been clearly discussed what factors we have to consider depending what angle we’re coming from!

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This entry was posted on November 24, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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