Employers are being encouraged to put in writing, complaints about workers who do not perform in order to counter accusations of unfair dismissal, particularly from employees who have made sexual harassment claims against their bosses.
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo said since the Senate approved the Employment Sexual Harassment (Prevention) Bill this week, some employers have expressed concern that it would become virtually impossible to fire a worker who had previously lodged a sexual harassment complaint.
“Someone asked me what happens if you want to fire someone who had gone to the Employment Rights Tribunal complaining of sexual harassment. The person was concerned that it means that you could never fire this employee because they could always say it was because they claimed sexual harassment. I say that one thing that has to change in the culture of our workplace is the habit of proper documentation,” Byer-Suckoo said in an address at the 19th annual conference of the Human Resource Management Association at the Radisson Aquatica Hotel.
The legislation, which was approved by the Upper House on Wednesday, makes provision for the protection of employees in the public and private sectors from sexual harassment at the workplace, provides a framework for the reporting of sexual harassment cases by employees, and establishes a procedure for the hearing and determination of matters related to sexual harassment.
However, Byer-Suckoo said the law was never intended to shelter alleged victims who did not perform.
“We all know that there are those employees that never accept responsibility and will never get a job done until you pass it to somebody else. Then they [employee] claim that they should have gotten a promotion because they were in the company longer even though they know that they have not been doing the work. Even our unions will then argue on behalf of that worker and because you did not document it, the unions give the authorities cause to challenge your decision,” Byer-Suckoo warned.
“So, as we implement legislation and attempt to institute fairness, I want to encourage you to ensure that you document today. I know in Barbados we don’t want to write up persons because we were related to them or know someone that is related to them, but we cannot continue to do business like that, we must document. It makes life easier and we must document,” Byer-Suckoo stressed.