Clearwater Consulting

When Quality Matters

Employee Relations


Fallings out at work are triggered by numerous reasons: behaviour, performance, sickness absence, attendance, relationships between colleagues, theft/fraud, bullying/harassment, sex, disability or another form of discrimination – the list is seemingly endless. What is certain is that if they aren't resolved effectively and in a timely fashion they can easily and quickly escalate to full blown industrial tribunal claims.


It is important for staff engagement and morale that grievances are properly addressed in a speedy and professional way.

However employers are now required to deal with grievances according to the Statutory Grievance Procedures. If you fail to comply with these procedures then your employee may be able to lodge a complaint with an Industrial Tribunal and if successful with the claim you could be ordered to pay extra compensation.

Not only are we able to guide you through the necessary procedure to comply with your statutory obligations we can also advise on what rights an employee may have in relation to their grievance and recommend practical solutions.

Discipline and Poor Performance

A disciplinary issue usually arises when the actions of an employee have had a negative impact on your business, for example in the case of misconduct or poor performance.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to deal with these issues because:

  • of the personalities involved
  • you do not have the time or resources to conduct a full investigation into the matter
  • or
  • you are unsure what you can or cannot do and still comply with employment legislation

Clearwater Consulting is able to guide you through the necessary procedures to help you arrive at a resolution.

If requested we are happy to provide hands on support e.g. with the investigation or at any other stage in the procedure. 


Harassment can be a form of discrimination if it can be shown that an employee is being harassed on the grounds of being part of a “protected group”.

Alternatively employers have a duty of care towards their employees under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

This is one of the most difficult employment issues to try to resolve. Research has found that approximately 75% of employees who raise a formal complaint of harassment leave their employer.

As it is very difficult to successfully resolve a complaint of harassment it is important that it is dealt with in a fair and reasonable way.

The only way to ensure that this is the case is to

  • have a policy and procedure for dealing with complaints of harassment
  • ensure that any investigation is conducted by someone who is seen to be “independent”
  • ensure that those involved in the decision making process are also seen to be “independent” .

We are able to guide you through the necessary procedures to help you arrive at a resolution.

If requested we are happy to provide hands on support e.g. with the investigation or at any other stage in the procedure.

Sickness Absence

Most employers at some time will experience operational difficulties due to employee absence mainly due to sickness.

Employee absence can also pose a significant cost to many employers.

In a recent survey, the CIPD estimated the average cost of sickness absence at £659 for each employee each year; this represents 3.7% of working time or 8.4 working days.

It is therefore important that you tackle sickness absence with a view to:

  • decreasing the frequency of short-term sickness absences
  • in each case, following short or long periods of absence, facilitating a speedy return to work
  • and
  • ultimately making informed decisions about the viability of future employment.

Tackling sickness absence can be difficult because

  • of the sensitivities involved
  • you are unsure of what interventions you can make
  • or
  • you are unsure of the legal framework including Unfair Dismissal, Data Protection, Absence and Pregnancy, Disability Discrimination


We are able to advise you on the appropriate absent management tools and guide you through the necessary processes or procedures to help you tackle sickness absence in a robust and sensitive way.


Under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 there are five potentially fair reasons for dismissing an employee as follows:

  • Capability (e.g. poor performance, lack of qualifications, ill health)
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Illegality (i.e. where, if the employee continued to work they, or their employer, would be breaking the law
  • Some other substantial reason:(this general ground covers a variety of reasons and circumstances, e.g. the expiry of a fixed term or temporary contract)

It is essential when terminating employment for any of the above reasons you comply with the Statutory Dismissal Procedures. Failure to comply will result in an automatic finding of unfair dismissal by an Industrial Tribunal.

Another potentially “fair” reason for dismissal is retirement. However there is now a statutory procedure you must comply with too.

We are able to guide you through these procedures to ensure you comply with your statutory obligations.