In November 2011 the Government launched a consultation into the introduction of protected conversations in the workplace. The Employment Relations Minister said,

“The objective is to encourage people who are afraid of having conversations that they ought to be having, to have them.

The objective is not to protect employers from saying discriminatory comments.”

Poor performance and retirement were cited as examples of when a protected conversation could be necessary.

The pros and cons of protected conversations in the workplace will no doubt continue to be debated throughout the consultation period. However, a simple question appears to be central to this debate:

The implementation of protective conversations without fear of a tribunal


fundamental management development training and transparent policies and procedures?

If managers have the skills to deal with sensitive issues within the context of statutory requirements, alongside transparent company policies and procedures is there a need for the government to introduce protected conversations’ legislation? Indeed there are numerous workplace scenarios where it can prove costly if the manager does not have the conversation they ought to be having and these don’t necessarily result in claims of unfair dismissal. For example, poor working relationships and sickness absence can be unnecessarily disruptive and costly if a manager doesn’t have the training to deal with them at an early stage.

Managers trained in open and constructive communication will be confident and able to conduct all types of workplace discussion in a timely manner and without fear of exacerbating a sensitive situation.

Transparent policies and procedures

Relevant knowledge of statutory requirements and company policies and procedures

An open and constructive approach



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