Although the benefits of writing something down are widely known, you may sometimes be tempted to take a chance and hope that you’ll remember something important later. Even with multiple methods of note taking at our fingertips in today’s technological age, there will still be times when we throw caution to the wind and say, “I’ll remember this”.
Going to the supermarket without a shopping list or failing to keep a pen and paper by the phone can be an interesting test of memory. Usually though, it results in returning from the shops with everything, except what you needed most, and forgetting to tell a colleague that their wife called.
To note or not to note
Some people make it through the day without taking notes. For example, waiting staff at a restaurant who have been trained as such. Or the CEO whose meeting style abandons note taking in order to give presenters their full attention.
Navigating yourself through each day and deciding whether to take notes is your prerogative and will depend on your personal memory style. Most of the time this will serve you well and you’ll see no reason to change. But, should the time come when you need to recall a specific conversation or event with a disgruntled employee, your version of events can be contested and difficult to prove without some form of documented evidence.
Risks to your business
We’re not suggesting that you write everything down. You’d be drowning in notes or need a scribe to follow you around for that. But there are some situations with employees that carry risk. And in order to protect your business, you’re going to want to take notes.
In the unfortunate event of a WRC (Workplace Relations Commission) claim, it’s accurate notes and records that can help to back up your side of the story in court.
Will you stand up in court?
An argument can be dismantled due to inadequate HR processes. Don’t let this happen to you by checking your understanding of the following.
If it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen
You know what happened, you were there. But your employee has a different version of events. Unfortunately, if you have no documentation or paper trail to show, the court could dismiss your only defence.
It is vital to have a paper trail and document difficult conversations and altercations involving employees. Have all parties sign a document, at the time, in a show of agreement to the true version of events.
If it’s inconsistent, it’s debatable
Perhaps you already follow best practice with documentation. Great! But if your dates and times lack consistency with an order of events, your documents can be argued and picked apart.
All documents must contain the correct time, date and names of those present, in order to be used as substantial evidence at an employment tribunal.
If it’s not backed up, it can disappear
Whether you’ve made a conscious decision to cut down on paper or most of your internal comms happen online, your notes and documents are not safely stored unless you have a reliable back-up system or secure cloud storage in place.
HR software such as the HR Dept Toolkit provides a safe and reliable way to keep records for employees. Be sure to file those relevant emails too, you may need them as evidence.
Following best practice for HR
We hope that you never have to face a tribunal. And following best HR practice is always the first line of defence for staying out of court, or successfully defending yourself. With our advice line service, not only do you receive unlimited telephone and email HR advice to follow best practice. But if you are taken to tribunal, you’re covered for costs and any pay-out as long as you followed our advice from the outset.