Every so often, and usually despite my better judgement, I’ll read or even get involved in a LinkedIn debate about an employment law topic. One a few weeks ago concerned the applicability of the TUPE regulations in a particular situation. What annoyed me about the debate – on this occasion – was that the first few responses, from apparently experienced and qualified HR professionals, were “ask a lawyer”, often with a subtext of “much too complicated and risky for the likes of us”.
Now I’ve nothing against Employment Lawyers (some of my best friends… etc), and their expertise is always useful. But I do find it worrying when HR people – who ought to understand the organisational and cultural context the law is being applied to – refuse to comment on a basic query and kick it upstairs to the legal profession.
So here’s a little quiz:
- If an individual makes an employment tribunal claim against your company, what are the processes and timescales for responding?
- If one of your managers asks for advice about whether a restructuring situation will result in redundancies, how do you respond?
- Could you advise a manager on what the protected characteristics are under the Equality Act?
- What is the process for a Shared Parental Leave request? And how does it differ from Additional Paternity Leave?
- What are the big changes being planned in Employment Law and where would you find more information?
If you’ve a CIPD qualification* and you can’t answer all of those with ease, then you really should be concerned (and if you’re one of my non-HR readers, if your HR manager or consultant can’t answer them you should be equally concerned). That’s not me being a smart-arse – those questions are based on the CIPD’s own learning outcomes for the Employment Law module in the Advanced Diploma. As an HR professional, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of the wonderfully named “Daddy’s Dance Hall” case or whether there are legitimate grounds for appeal in the recent Holiday Pay case – that is a job for the lawyers. But the basic tenets of employment law? You bet.
(* I understand some CIPD qualified people are specialists in certain areas – such as Compensation & Benefits – and don’t need a detailed knowledge of general employment law. But they still need to know how the law impacts on their own specialism)