Tribunals: HR must start to practise what it preaches

When will HR begin practising what it preaches? Continually we hear fellow professionals saying: “We need to recruit the right person for the right role.”

So why do we get huffy when we ignore our own good practice and try to be the wrong person in the wrong role – rather than letting the legal eagles do what they are trained for? We get the ammunition; they fire the gun. 

HR professionals have and need a wealth of employment law knowledge to carry out their jobs. While many see themselves as candidates for LA Law, we must have the professional humility to recognise we are not experts in fighting intricate legal arguments.

If we had a heart condition, would we expect the GP rather than the cardio-thoracic surgeon to do the operation?

Our role is to use our legal knowledge to prevent tribunals happening in the first place.

This is done through sound interpretation, dealing with the legal issues that arise from the law, and developing employment and business policies, practices and people management profiles that ensure ease of compliance.

More importantly, we have to communicate that understanding, advice and guidance across the whole organisation.

If we are at a tribunal, we have already got it wrong, so don’t keep digging the hole.

HR professionals must rise above the egotistic tantrums and the unrealistic grandiose perceptions of ourselves and stick to what we are good at: being the right professional in the right professional role. 

Malcolm Houghton-le-Chapple
Head of HR, Amersham and Wycombe College

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