Companies with a mind to recruit during the ongoing GFC would be wise to embrace a 'tell all' approach if they want to avoid legal action from disgruntled ex-employees in the future, according to Harmers Workplace Lawyers.
The legal firm warns that companies that withhold important information regarding the future plans and direction of the company from prospective employees, in particular any potential restructuring that may occur in the future, or the difficult financial circumstances of the company, could be leaving themselves vulnerable to legal action later on by misled employees.
"For example, if a candidate is offered a role overseeing a team of 15, or reporting directly to the CEO, yet three months into the role they discover that their team will be reduced or redeployed elsewhere, or that restructuring will greatly diminish their position in the company hierarchy, then they will understandably feel disappointed and even angered that the role has changed so dramatically from what had been originally presented to them," said Shana Schreier-Joffe, Partner at Harmers Workplace Lawyers.
"Certainly, if these changes were envisaged by the company at the time of recruitment and not disclosed to the employee, the employee may well have some legal recourse," she said.
Schreier-Joffe said that while she understood why employers might be reluctant to openly discuss potential changes that may occur to their business, or the difficult financial position of the company, they must recognise that most candidates are giving up secure jobs elsewhere on the basis of the role and workplace as described to them during the recruitment process. She offers the tips below to assist employers in avoiding the legal minefield that could await if proper employer to employee communication is not put in practice.
- Be upfront as much as possible about the state of the business, the performance and outlook of the industry it is operating in, and any planned or potential changes to the business
- Avoid overstating the role or the performance of the business - be conservative in your estimation of future business performance
- When preparing ahead of any interviews or written materials, carefully consider the wording chosen and ensure they create an objective and accurate picture of the company
- If there are potential workplace changes that are of a particular concern or likely to impact that role, and which may leave the company at risk of litigation, ensure that they are disclosed to the potential employee. If it will significantly impact the role performed by the potential employee or the employee's ongoing employment, then ensure details are recorded in writing in the letter of offer or contract of employment
- Ensure that recruitment agents do not represent the role or company in a manner than is inaccurate.