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How to deal with grievances with your boss while working from home

2 July 2020 11:51 AM

A labour lawyer says she has dealt with companies coming to terms with paying for employees home internet data for work purposes.

How do you effectively deal with work-from-home issues you are facing? Refilwe speaks to Silke Rathbone, principal partner at Labour Excel, a labour law specialist consulting company, to find out how to approach your company with these matters.

Rathbone says more and more employees are working from home.

But I do think it is important to have a good relationship with your employer and actually just set those boundaries in place - and to say 'hey listen here I am working from home but after 5 it's family time.

Silke Rathbone, Labour Law specialist - Labour Excel

She says it is really about having good communication between managers and staff but adds that labour consultants are always available to help employers and employers deal with these new challenges.

How do you lodge a complaint while working from home?

Most companies do have a grievance policy, she says. Here is her advice:

Step 1: Discuss the grievance with your direct line manager.

Step 2: If this is not possible follow the company's grievance policy and this is usually submitted in a written form. Once this has been submitted by an employee a company has to take action on that grievance.

Step3: She advises only referring the matter to the CCMA as a last resort.

What about reimbursements for using your own personal internet, data, phone, and computer from home?

She says she has had to deal with a number of issues related to the use of resources such as data, telephone costs, and computers at home and what happens when the company refuses or delays payment on resources normally provided at the office.

Rathbone says some South African companies have been proactive and have even developed working from home policies, where data and other costs are paid. But there are many companies dealing with this new trend for the first time.

They still have their running costs, their overheads of paying for the office, including data - but then employees are expected to carry that cost which is also not right.

Silke Rathbone, Labour Law specialist - Labour Excel

She says company responses to these grievances have been mixed.

But companies also want their employees to be productive, so if it means paying for that data at home they do see the benefit in it. I would say about 90% of them do.

Silke Rathbone, Labour Law specialist - Labour Excel

How do employers ensure employees are being productive while working at home?

A listener messaged in an interesting question asking, for example, how companies would know if an employee was under the influence of alcohol and drugs while working from home.

It is more challenging but most companies still have performance-based systems. So if the person is now suddenly less productive, your first step would be to look at why?

Silke Rathbone, Labour Law specialist - Labour Excel

Rathbone says companies have processes in place to assist an employee to receive the necessary help they need.

You always want to first try and help the employee. Dismissal is always the last resort.

Silke Rathbone, Labour Law specialist - Labour Excel

How are companies helping staff deal with the psychological strain of working from home?

She says in particular when schools have been closed the work/home balance is a challenge and she has arranged coaching sessions for some of her clients.

But I think most of the time once employees have a routine, dress like you are going to the office, a routine is very important.

Silke Rathbone, Labour Law specialist - Labour Excel

There is a great deal of assistance such as business coaching available if needed which can be done virtually online, she adds,

Listen to the interview below:


2 July 2020 11:51 AM

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