International HR Day: The wild and wacky things you never thought HR would have to deal with

Toronto, May 16, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — You could be forgiven for thinking that HR’s role is limited to hiring and firing. But in reality, there’s a lot more to a role in HR than that. And by a lot, we sure do mean A LOT.

In fact, in celebration of the upcoming International HR Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on HR professionals everywhere for whom no two days are ever the same….

Peninsula Group provides HR services to over 120,000 SMBs around the globe. They have pulled together the wild and wackiest calls received by advisors from group companies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK.

Darren Chadwick, CEO at Peninsula Canada says, “HR can get a bad rap, but the job is extremely varied and rewarding. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, we recently had a client call the advice line trying to sell his parrot – HR can handle most things, but maybe isn’t the best port of call when trying to offload a feathered friend!

“Believe it or not, it’s all in a day’s work for HR! Let’s take a look at the craziest calls received by our advisors over the last year, and I’ll give my advice on how best to handle them.”

• An employee called in sick and told their employer that they would be off sick for the 5-day mandatory quarantine period. The employer requested reasonable proof of this absence, as the employee had a high level of absences already this year. The employer received a photo of the employee’s positive COVID-19 test but recognized it. After a bit of online investigating, they found the exact photo which had been circulating on Twitter.

“In certain situations, it is acceptable for an employer to request reasonable proof of an absence of an employee. If it is confirmed that the ‘proof’ submitted is fraudulent, and after a full investigation, you can move on to take disciplinary action.”

• A new employee asked their employer where the toilets were and were directed to the location. Moments later, they noticed the employee walk out the front door. Thinking this was slightly strange, they kept watching as the employee then squatted down and began to ‘use the toilet’ on the sidewalk outside the store.

“Awkward situations like this are not as rare as you might think in HR. An employer should be comfortable addressing these uncomfortable topics whilst also considering why they may be happening. Once the employer is made aware of the reasoning, they can then make adjustments or accommodations to ensure that everyone is comfortable in the workplace. Although allowing employees to go to the toilet on the sidewalk will never be considered a reasonable adjustment….” 

• An employee was caught sleeping at their desk during working hours. The employer woke them up and confronted them, asking why they were asleep. The employee said he was not asleep but was meditating to reduce the stress caused by his workload which he had recently complained to his supervisor about, to no avail.

“It’s important for employers to not jump to conclusions whenever they come across a situation like this. Firstly, speak with the employee’s supervisor to find out what discussions have taken place and what support measures, if any, have been implemented to help manage the workload. Then, you should assess whether the employee requires time off, any medical accommodations in the workplace, or a review of role and workload. This should then be adequately monitored and managed moving forward.”

• Two employees were on their break in the parking lot. They were engaging in sexual activities when, suddenly, one of the employees got bitten in the behind by a coyote. The employer had to call an ambulance and had questions as to why the employee’s behind was exposed…

“Although this sounds like something from a sitcom, it is a real-life call that we received at Peninsula Canada! There are several areas to look at here. Firstly, professional conduct. Whether on a break or not, employees are expected to conduct themselves professionally at all times when on workplace premises. Secondly, the employee has sustained an injury whilst on workplace premises. This means that the employer needs to document this injury and carry out a full investigation into how it happened. You should look at the behavior of both employees before taking any disciplinary action.”

• A new manager refused to go into certain store areas alone, claiming that she could see ghosts wandering the aisles. When alone, she would wait at the front doors till a co-worker came by and avoid working near the areas where she claimed to see these apparitions.

“In a situation like this, it is important to address concerns with the employee and make your expectations clear. If the employee brings up any medical issues that require adjustments, then ask for documentation from a healthcare provider in order to begin the accommodation process. If there are no medical reasons for the behavior, then any issues should be addressed using the disciplinary process. All employees should be capable of fulfilling the role as outlined in both their job description and contract of employment. If they are unable to do so, then there may be reason to let the employee go.

“And if you think those are bad, now let’s look at some of the calls heard by other Peninsula Group companies around the globe….”

Australia

• Can I give my employee a warning for wearing the same perfume as me?

• We fundraised for our employee’s cancer treatment but found Facebook photos in Thailand when she took sick leave to receive ‘treatment’. This doesn’t seem right… what can I do?

• Can I pay my workers, half in cash and half in food, if I can prove that the value of food is of equal value? I can attach the food pricing to their payslip.

• My employee has called in sick because his cat is sick, and the vet has given him a med cert for the cat.

• My employee is a bit of a downer; can I terminate them for not being happy at work?

Ireland

• I need some support; one of my staff, an undertaker, was just run over by the priest.

• A member of staff is asking other staff to cover for her while she meets up with men, she’s having affairs with on her lunch break. How do I manage this?

• My staff member said they were working from home, but it turns out they have been in Mexico for months. How do I make them come back?

• Our former staff member stole the company dog. How do we get it back?

UK

• Can I fire someone for playing hide and seek in the office? 

• A colleague drove me to work the other day and was a terrible driver. Can I raise a grievance against them?

• Can I fire someone for stealing my lunch?

• A staff member swore at me, am I allowed to swear back? 

• A staff member resigned recently, and I didn’t say goodbye. Can they sue me?

Notes to editor:

*These are all real calls received this year by Peninsula UK, Peninsula Ireland, Peninsula Canada, Croner, and Employsure.

Darren Chadwick is available for an interview.

Contact: Sally Abu-Samra – Public Relations Specialist

T: 647-363-7978 | E: [email protected]


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