A brief welcome from the Fair Job UK Team. We’re launching this week 28th April 2024 and are celebrating with 15% off your first year subscription for those joining in week one.

Fair Job UK has been in the works since about 2019. An increasing number of HR Professionals have been growing decidedly uncomfortable with what had been a growing over reach by HR both within the corporate and large employer world and, by osmosis into that of the SME and small employer.

HR’s foray into workplace relationships and psychology was motivated by the best intentions and started to emerge about 30 years ago. A desire to improve customer service and employee engagement by encouraging positive behaviours in the workplace was the initial idea. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and, like so many good ideas, the tools built to deliver them have been sadly misused.

Since 2021, the situation for employers and employees has been getting a lot worse. Workers don’t know where they stand, employers are terrified of making an error or saying the wrong thing and laws, training and policies initially designed to improve the workplace for everyone have had the opposite effect and have become a charter for activists.

The recent shenanigans at Google saw over 50 employees sacked for occupying executive offices and accusing Google of genocide. Now, whatever the political opinions of individuals at work, this behaviour was inappropriate and broke many Google polices. Workers are entitled to freedom of speech and expression within the law, but employment contracts require professionalism and decorum at work. We’ve also seen employers fire staff for putting mainstream jokes on their private social media accounts. Famously Asda had to Uturn on a decision to fire a grandfather of years of service for sharing a Billy Connolly joke on his private social media. No one in Asda HR seemed to question the appropriateness of this until the volume of the public backlash and the fact that Asda were selling the same joke in Billy Connolly DVDs was pointed out as gross hypocrisy.

Navigating the highly polarised politics of the 21st Century is no easy task for anyone especially an employer. Social media and smartphones turbo charge both real news and scurrilous rumour and the careers of many clever people have been destroyed through a thoughtless social media post. Mobs of the perpetually offended stalk social media, looking for incidents they can make drama from, companies over react to their demands, making the error of assuming outrage on Twitter is reflected in the real world. Additionally, employees, high on a moral crusade, can get caught up in the moment and fatally hurt their careers and prospects by breaking their employment contract, as happened to the Google employees above.

The implementation of Equality Diversity and Inclusion training and policies has been extremely rapid. Prior to 2021, it was something only usually found in large employers but the BLM movement saw an extremely rapid expansion and the implementation demanded by ESG driven Procurement rules mean that demand outstripped supply. The result has been extremely poor quality EDI training and policies , often copied from US providers and irrelevant to the UK, occasionally unlawful and often extremely damaging to workplace relations and employee engagement. This has been evidenced from reports in March and April 2024 by the Free Speech Union and the UK Government, the impact on morale, working relationships, fear in the workplace, disengaged employees and therefore productivity is bad enough for a big business or employer but can be catastrophic small to medium employers. Fair Job UK can provide you with EDI Training and policies that will not wreck your workplace relationships and employee engagement.

We’ve spoken to employees who have lost their jobs for objecting to pronoun policies, who have never been in trouble before and who are not plugged into the current politics of the internet 24/7 and had no idea that ‘pronouns’ were an issue for anyone. We have spoken with business owners who are wracked with the fear of inadvertently sparking an Employment Tribunal claim for a bad joke or banter in the workplace. ‘We’re tip toeing on eggshells” around each other, the atmosphere being “distrust and fear”. People at work are talking in euphemisms and knowing looks rather than having open and honest conversations.

There have been calls for the laws to be changed to protect and restore harmony in the workplace but this is extremely difficult to legislate. Ironically, the Equality Act 2010, which has made life tricky for many smaller employers (when was the last time you fired a recalcitrant employee without a counter discrimination accusation coming in) is actually robust at protecting the rights of those with unfashionable opinions, however, for legislation to be effective it has to be followed and there have been thousands of unlawful sackings over employees running foul of EDI issues that will never see an Employment Tribunal or justice.

The reality is that we cannot wait for the Government to legislate, that could take years. We have to act, as small employers 63% of people work in SMEs and if workplace culture is going to change for the better it must be driven by the workplaces themselves.

This is why we established the Fair Job UK initiative, it’s aimed at being affordable for all employers including the very smallest. Don’t wait for a crisis at work, by the time you are into a grievance or disciplinary situation it is almost too late. Restore workplace harmony and common goals now.

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