Training punishment is knee-jerk reaction

I was unsure whether to be intrigued or horrified by the story that Virgin Trains managers were ordered to attend a disability rights law course by an employment tribunal (News, Personnel Today, 26 July).

When people in such a position as tribunal members decide that attending training is a punishment, I get worried. What next? There are all sorts of training courses that might be a suitable punishment, but do we want public acknowledgement of that?

Of course, it may be that the tribunal carried out a comprehensive training needs analysis on the managers from Virgin, and clearly established that the failure to manage a return-to-work was based solely on ignorance, and not a case of ‘knew but didn’t want to’, or ‘knew but too busy’, or any one of a number of possible causes.

Call me cynical, but I believe it is more likely a knee-jerk reaction that would make a nice headline and reinforce the omniscience of the tribunal. Confusing symptoms with causes wastes more money and time on training than anything.

Training is to assist with performance, and I suggest that the Virgin managers have already learned a lesson by having to appear before an employment tribunal.

Malcolm Pattman
Learning and development
Derbyshire Constabulary


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