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Partner’s warning over poorly worded communication

24th January, 2014

The recent news that a Shropshire Council has landed itself in hot water after warning staff via email to curb what the council deemed “unnecessary spending”, has highlighted the need for employers to have and to use a communications policy for major issues such as this.

An email from council Chief Executive Clive Wright warned staff that they faced disciplinary action if instructions to curb spending in light of a budget freeze were not followed.

A direct appeal, whilst effective in contacting all staff in a timely manner, appears to have undermined the Chief Executive, at least in the short term, with his workforce.

The council appears to have lost the goodwill of its staff, given the pressures on spending and jobs, and inevitably this means people can react badly when they believe they are being treated unfairly.

The taxpayers of Shropshire may now rightly be concerned about the effects of getting this simple and important message wrong.

Mr Wright went on to clarify his comment and apologised to staff, but the legacy of the threat may only emerge in employment disputes over the coming months. The email was leaked on websites and to the media by staff.

Will it lead to wasted management time dealing with grievances and employment law issues? If staff are disciplined will they challenge that decision in an Employment Tribunal?

For further information and advice on managing your staff effectively and on these of technology in the workplace, please contact Paul Bennett on 01743 453685, or send an email to [email protected]. Paul is a Partner in our Employment and Professional Practices Teams and advises on social media and employment law issues. Paul is a Chartered Manager in addition to being a solicitor.

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