In the dynamic field of Human Resources (HR), professionals often face the challenge of conducting sensitive conversations with employees. Whether it’s about modifying employment conditions, addressing performance issues, managing disciplinary actions, responding to employee feedback, or initiating workplace investigations, these discussions are crucial. Integrated Human Resourcing emphasises the importance of best practices in these scenarios, including the option for employees to have a support person present.

Understanding the Role of a Support Person

A support person plays a vital role in providing emotional backup, noting important points, and ensuring the well-being of the employee during challenging discussions. They can be a colleague, family member, friend, industrial representative, or even a legal advisor. Their primary function is to offer moral support rather than to speak, defend, or respond on behalf of the employee.

Industrial Representatives and Their Enhanced Role

When the support person is an industrial representative, like a union officer, they might have a more proactive involvement in the meeting, aiding in navigating the complexities of industrial relations.

Formal Invitation Process

Integrated Human Resourcing ensures fairness by inviting the employee through a formal letter, clearly stating the reasons for the meeting and allowing ample time for them to arrange for a support person.

Conflict of Interest Checks

To maintain the integrity of the process, the HR department verifies the chosen support person to avoid any conflicts of interest. This includes ensuring the support person is not part of the ongoing investigation or simultaneously supporting both parties involved in a case.

Maintaining Privacy and Conducting Meetings

At the outset of the meeting, all participants are reminded of their roles to ensure privacy and confidentiality. If disruptions occur, the HR team is prepared to take necessary steps, such as scheduling breaks, rescheduling the meeting, or moving to written communication.

Support for HR Professionals

Interestingly, the concept of a support person is not limited to employees. HR professionals may also have a support person present, especially for taking notes and providing a debriefing mechanism after the meeting.

Fair and Reasonable Outcomes

While a support person can bolster the employee’s confidence and sense of security, Integrated Human Resourcing stresses that the final decision in any meeting is based on fairness and reasonableness, adhering to best HR practices.

The presence of a support person during sensitive HR discussions is a cornerstone of fair and empathetic employee management. Integrated Human Resourcing is committed to upholding these values, ensuring a balanced and supportive approach in all employee interactions.

Reference: Employee Support Person Guidelines – Queensland Government