It IS a word!!!

Words are important. Any serious Scrabble player reaching for the dictionary will tell you that.

And when it comes to employment law, your choice of words couldn’t be more important.

I experienced this recently when a golf club committee member got in touch.

A member of staff at the club had submitted a grievance against the manager, and we’d worked on the response, which was a robust rejection of the grievance claims.

He’d agreed that we should (and must) reject the grievance, but he didn’t like the way the response was worded – too formal, too unemotional.

Not just that, but he was convinced that the wording would “irritate” the (now ex) employee, so he wanted us to rephrase to say that we didn’t “agree” with him.

No deal – the language we choose in letters of this kind is specific and precise because our job is to protect the club.

If the ex-employee did attempt to escalate and went to a solicitor, they’d immediately see the standard language and know the correct process had been followed.

The committee member was also keen to make their right to appeal “less formal”, seeking to replace “You have the right of appeal, which must happen within 5 working days” with “If you are not happy with this outcome, please let me know (no deadline), and we will arrange a chat with the chairman (not him)”.

Why? Apparently, the club wanted an “inclusive family” of staff and no conflict.

I pointed out that the employee was SO convinced of his role in the family that he’d:

• Resigned with immediate effect
• Tried to get the general manager fired
• Incited three other colleagues to do the same

(To be honest, now I write it, it sounds more familial than I thought!)

Once again, the wording around appeal wasn’t pulled out of thin air, but carefully crafted to protect our client.

Sure, the language in these sorts of letters can sometimes come across as slightly detached.

But when the alternative is going off piste, using the wrong words by mistake and ending up in tribunal, it really is no contest.

Because here’s the reality: lawyers love to argue the interpretation of a given word, and will do so for hours, at your expense.

Even if you’re in the right, chances are you’ll still end up with a big bill, which is why we advocate using the standard language – time and time again it’s been proven to be safe, secure and non-tribunal-inducing!

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    Simply get in touch and they'll provide you with clear and confidential guidance about any kind of dispute or query that you have about relationship issues within the workplace.

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