Miles Heffernan and the IR Claims Family says the recent royal sideshow highlights the difficulties of working in family firms.
Of course, The British royals, who actually refer to themselves as ‘The Firm’, are a special case given the relentless focus on the gilded cage they live in.
But Miles says, we can still learn from the Windsors about the pitfalls of working with family members.
Non-related workers in family businesses often feel, frequently correctly, that they do not enjoy benefits available to family members. Yes, we are all the Duchess of Sussex.
Also, family members or romantic partners sometimes exercise powers in a workplace their position does not entitle them to. Fellow staff can feel forced to go along with the directions of another employee because they will otherwise suffer consequences due to that employee exercising pressure on the boss.
That diminishes the firm’s productivity and more importantly is not proper workplace practice.
Complex work environments
Family businesses often prove complex environments. However, the same employment laws pertain to all employees, related or not. Two examples from the Fair Work Commission illustrate that no one should bring personal issues to work.
In 2019, Pasquale Parente’s parents fired him from his job at their business. Their reason? He arrived late for a non-work-related dinner at their house.
The Fair Work Commission awarded Pasquale $10,000 compensation. Commissioner Sarah McKinnon said there was no evidence of unsatisfactory work performance.
“There is insufficient context to explain why arriving late for dinner would have been a valid reason for dismissal.”
Ms McKinnon was awarded compensation rather than insist on a reinstatement because of the “loss of trust and confidence between the parties.”
In another case in 2018, a woman lost her case at the Fair Work Commission when she appealed against her dismissal from a Queensland health service.
When their personal relationship with her sister soured, Regina Hussey became abusive to her at work. A Her sister is also her supervisor. After asking to be relocated to a different workplace, Hussey then failed to attend her job. Following a series of text messages with her sister, she made threatening comments about her, including saying, “this is not f*cking over.”
Commissioner Paula Spencer said Hussey’s failure to turn up to work, her “abusive and threatening language”, and her expression of frustration to other staff breached the employer’s code of conduct.
Miles Heffernan says to beware of working with family. A falling out in your personal life can suddenly affect your work life, and put your employment at risk. Also remember, that your relationship with the boss should not in Australia have consequences for fellow workers. Australian workplace laws gifts every worker the same rights.
If you are having a workplace issue, please call IR Claims on 1300 853 837.
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