As a company experiences growth, it is inevitable that changes will occur. There will arise a need to hire new employees, evaluate the existing ones, promote a few, create new positions and vary existing job descriptions that may lead to demotions or firing. These are important decisions you have to make as an employer, and that you have to implement for the benefit of your company.
One question, however, begs: Do you always follow the due process when undertaking changes that will directly affect your employees?
Earlier in April, there was news that a former employee of De La Rue had been awarded a sum of KSh2.36 million in damages for unlawful termination. Based on the case contents, the termination was termed unlawful because De La Rue had not consulted with the employee at the time of making changes to his terms of employment.
This case is not unique. The industrial court in Kenya handles many similar cases and more employers in Kenya continue to suffer losses they could have easily avoided. How? By involving employees whenever you are making a change(s) in their employment contract.
The Importance of Consulting with Employees before Making Changes
1. You Will be Adhering to the Employment Law of Kenya
By involving an employee whenever you are making changes to his or her terms of employment, you will be complying with the Kenyan labour laws. And not only should you inform the employee of the change(s) you are about to make, but also allow them to air their views. An employee need not consent to the changes, but they should always be consulted.
According to the Kenya Employment Act of 2007, an employer shall, in consultation with the employee, revise a contract to reflect changes and notify the employee of the change in writing. Failure to do so, an employee can file a complaint against the employer, and consequently win.
2. You Will be Avoiding an Unnecessary Lawsuit
As I mentioned in the first point above, not consulting with an employee before making changes to an employment contract is considered unlawful. Further, if the change made was not favourable to the employee, he or she can file a complaint with the labour office or with the industrial court. So whenever you do not consult and an employee is unhappy with the changes, your company may fall victim to a lawsuit.
To avoid all this, choose to consult with an employee whenever there is need to change the terms of employment. It may be uncomfortable because you’d have preferred not to, but it will help you avoid an unnecessary lawsuit. And in turn, you will also end up saving time and money.
3. Your Employees will Feel Appreciated
Away from the law, consulting with an employee whenever you are about to make changes to their terms of employment is another way of keeping them happy. This is because, when you call an employee to your office, inform them of the change you are about to make and ask their opinion, he or she is bound to take it positively.
The change may be negative, but because you took time off your busy schedule to personally involve them in the decision, they will feel valued. This may also result in the employee consenting to the change, even when it did not favour them.
Whenever you are implementing a change that will affect an employee’s work, livelihood or ability to perform, always consult with them first. During the consultation, ensure that minutes are taken and there is a witness involved. This can help you in terms of keeping records and when evidence of the consultation is required.