The Salon Owners Podcast: Phorest FM Episode 50 (w/ Michelle Bolger)

Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 50. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, this show is a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, roundups of our most recent salon owners marketing tips & tricks, all the latest in and around Phorest and what upcoming webinars you can join. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 50

What comes to mind when you think employment law? Tough topics? Stress? For the 50th episode of the podcast, Phorest FM welcomes back to the show Michelle Bolger (ESA Consultants), with all of her experience and knowledge in employment law. Dissecting tough subjects into digestible bits and pieces, she tackles three topics with the co-hosting duo: the legalities around maternity leave, holiday entitlement and social media in the business.

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Transcript

Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM Podcast, episode 50. I’m Killian Vigna…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle Springer.

Killian Vigna: This week on the show we invite Michelle Bolger to discuss some salon legalities, policies and best practices.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And as always, we top off the show with our upcoming Phorest Academy webinars.

Killian Vigna: This podcast is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment, with a cup of coffee, on your day off. Now, let’s get into the show.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Already November.

Killian Vigna: Already November and episode 50.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And episode 50. It’s our first… How do you call those… achievements?

Killian Vigna: It’s like a half-century? Centurium?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Milestone.

Killian Vigna: Milestone, that’s the one. So, yeah, I suppose what better way to do our 50th episode than…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Than to have a huge throwback to our early days…

Killian Vigna: Exactly.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And get Michelle Bolger on the show.

Killian Vigna: So now on the line we have Michelle, and Michelle is actually in a coffee shop, in college at the moment. How is that going for you, Michelle?

Michelle Bolger: It’s great. It’s great. I miss my colleagues dearly at ESA, but the coffee is better!

Killian Vigna: And the college lifestyle of course.

Michelle Bolger: Oh, the college lifestyle, yes, yes, yes, yes. Although I’m afraid I’m a bit too long in the tooth, now to be “Livin’ La Vida Loca” with the rest of them. Well, give me time, give me time people. I’m watching my Facebook.

Killian Vigna: So yeah, if you just want to… So basically, like, you’ve been away, you’ve been kind of studying for these exams, you’ve been doing your FE1’s and stuff lately. Do you want to shed some light on what it is you’re actually kind of progressing?

Michelle Bolger: Okay, so what I’ve been doing is, normally, you know, I do some articles for you and all your lovely clients in Phorest. I have given that task over to Joe Bolger, who is my father. So he’s been writing them, so you’ll have noticed a change in name. That’s because I completed my FE1’s, which are the final examinations to enter into the Law Society to train as a solicitor. So right now I am sitting in the very lovely Vanilla Café in the Law Society. And I am taking part in the first bump that you do in the Law Society, it’s called PBC1. And that’s where they train you to be a solicitor- train you to be an excellent solicitor I should say.

So, right now it’s not a question of learning the law. I’ve done all that, I have my law degree. I’ve done the FE1, so it’s not a question of knowing the law. What they do in the PBC1 is they train you on how to do the procedures [inaudible 00:02:41], things like how to put [inaudible 00:02:43] someone into the high court, how to do a will properly, how to make sure that your clients are totally protected and that you’ve done everything you can for them to make sure that their wishes are met.

So that’s where I’m at at the moment it’s six months, and goes for six months. That will finish in March. And then I will go back to a training semester to my master… They used to be called back in the day, my master, your master. So, I’m sure he’d be delighted [inaudible 00:03:10] would be delighted to hear I’m calling him my master. So I’ll go back to him for another month and then I’ll do PBC2, where’s there’s further training, and of course I’ll be specializing in employment law. And then, people, get ready, because then Shelly is a solicitor.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And then you’ll be back-

Michelle Bolger: And you can all come to me.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And then you’ll be back in ESA-

Michelle Bolger: Yeah, and then I’ll be back and kicking ass and writing all your blogs for you, anything that’s made for employment law, and you will be delighted. You won’t need a coffee in the morning, and you’ll be like, “No, let me read that article, Michelle. I’m alive and awake. Life is worth living.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh god, we’ve missed you on the show.

Michelle Bolger: Isn’t that how everybody feels about employment law? No?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But you make it sound so easy and so simple, that’s what we were talking about.

Killian Vigna: That’s exactly why we brought you back, because…

Michelle Bolger: Oh you charmers, you charmers.

Killian Vigna: We had your colleague write a couple of blogs, and we thought, you know what? Law isn’t exactly the easiest thing. We were reading them and trying to get our heads around… We were thinking we should just get Michelle on to talk about it because you just make it sound so much easier.

Michelle Bolger: No, but I do think the problem with a lot of law when you’re writing something, like when you’re writing a blog, when you’re doing something like that is, the law itself is very straightforward. It’s very black and white. But life isn’t.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: And, the thing with the situation when you do kind of think, “Okay, this has the little out of hand.” There’s so many incidentals to it. There’s so many parts to it that you kind of have to look at and judge. But what I would say to anybody, before you even start looking at the information, or  before you start looking at the law, always guide yourself inyour management of anything, any situation whatsoever. And this goes for employees as well. Is it fair and is it reasonable?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Common sense.

Michelle Bolger: Is it fair and is it reasonable? That’s common sense. You know, so, am I going to treat everybody the same way? That’s fair. Is it reasonable? If I was to have to explain this… This is an extreme example… But if I was to have to explain this to a judge on the day, would I be happy repeating what I had done? Would I be happy telling somebody what I had done?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Does that make sense?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That makes total sense, yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Because in the heat of the moment you’re saying to yourself, “Actually, I’m fed up with them and I’m done.” But you’ve also had a really bad week at work, and there’s been a lot of things going on as a manager or as an owner of a salon or anything like that. You’ve had a load of things and you overreacted.

The fact of the matter is, it’s going to be clear in a week or two that you overreacted. And if you were to explain that situation and how you decided to act in a week or two, and you know in your heart of hearts, you know that you overreacted to the situation, there’s still a lot that you can do to fix it. But don’t let it continue either. Don’t kind of just go home and hope for the best.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, because then it escalates.

Michelle Bolger: So be fair and reasonable. Yeah.

Killian Vigna: It’s basically irrational reasoning, yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Everything can be resolved. People are people. You’re going to have arguments. You’re going to have… Remember, you choose your girlfriend. You choose your boyfriend. You choose your dog or your cat. You don’t really get to choose the people you work with. There’s a lot to that, and yet you spend the most time with them.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s very true.

Michelle Bolger: Technically you’re spending eight hours a day with them. So, it’s going to be a cooking pot. It’s going to be a lot of personalities, a lot of things in it, and you’re gonna have blow-ups. That does not mean you’re a bad manager. That does not mean they’re a bad employee. Everybody gets to have a bad day. It’s how you’re gonna handle it, and how you’re going to handle it in the future. Okay?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Sounds good, yeah. So…

Killian Vigna: That’s a great way to kick it off, yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So we’ve come up with basically two subjects that your father, Joe, covered this summer. So maternity leave…

Michelle Bolger: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And also holiday…

Killian Vigna: The legalities.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Entitlement. But then we’ll also touch upon Facebook and social media and how tricky that can be with employees, employers, and stuff like that.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. Yup, yup, yup, yup…

Killian Vigna: That’s the fun bit of it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s the fun bit of it. We’ll keep it for the last one. Maternity leave actually-

Michelle Bolger: I’m going to get a load of friend requests after this whole thing.

Killian Vigna: Or we’re going to have a load of people block me.

Michelle Bolger: Okay, so do you want to talk about maternity leave, right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. It was actually one of the ones that got a lot of engagement, especially on social media, because we, earlier on this summer we chatted to Louise Caithness, and she’s from Zest Skin Spa. And she was basically saying that when she got pregnant, another of her employees got pregnant at the same time. She ended up not having any maternity leave, but she had something in place for her employees, and it was all very messy at the time, but that’s kind of what brought us back to employment law and asking what is it and how can you implement that?

Michelle Bolger: Okay. Okay, so, first of all, there’s going to be… When you’re an owner, unfortunately, there’s going to be those moments where… I mean, a lot of employees don’t feel this way but I can assure you a lot of employers do this where they will do things for their employees that they wouldn’t do for themselves, such as with Louise there, where she didn’t really get to enjoy her maternity leave, but she made sure that there was somebody that came in for her employee.

Now, maternity leave as most people understand it is that that 26 weeks that a woman is entitled to when she has her baby. So the four weeks, I think it’s four weeks before the due date, and then the remainder of the 26 weeks thereafter, right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Why is that important for employers? What do employers, first of all, think about, well what if there is no legal [inaudible 00:08:45] employer to pay an employee their salary, while they’re out. That defaults to social welfare benefits. Okay?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: So, you’re not paying them their salary, while they’re out. However, during those 26 weeks, it is protected by legislation. What does that mean? That means that they’re entitled to the time off, and man, are they entitled to the time off. I tell you, those last three months of pregnancy where you can’t sleep on any side, and everything’s uncomfortable, and you can’t remember the last time you’ve seen your toes; you don’t need to be worried about work. Right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right.

Michelle Bolger: Some employers will pay a salary, or will pay some money towards it, but there is no legal requirement for them to do so. So, that’s the 26 weeks. During that 26 weeks, it’s protected by legislation. What does that mean? That means that you can’t fire them for being pregnant, you can’t fire them because they’re not there, you are to leave them alone. That means you’re not to be texting them or calling them, and ask them where such and such is, or could they just pop in for a few hours, because you’re really stuck.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: That’s their time for them to heal, for their bodies to heal, for them to get their head around this new little bundle that can’t communicate with them, and sit through cries, and gurgles, and all the rest of it. That is their time, so ideally, leave them alone. Okay?

That doesn’t mean that you can’t text them if something kind of goes crazy. It will depend on the employee, how long they’ve been there, and what their understanding is. Some employees are very nice and they’ll say, “Look, if you need me for something, if you wanna call me for something.” But they are not required to come into work, in any way. Or to engage with work in any way.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. They’re also entitled… Pregnant employees are also entitled to three antenatal classes. So, antenatal classes are the classes that you do before you have your baby, to kind of prepare you for the birth, and what your body’s going to be going through, and what you and your partner will be kind of dealing with.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: They’re entitled to paid time off for those classes.

Killian Vigna: This is the mother and the father, as well, is it?

Michelle Bolger: Exactly, yup. The father, if he works for you, if he is an employee as well, he’s entitled to that time off to attend those antenatal classes.

Killian Vigna: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: But, only three. Now, what are the responsibilities of the employee? Because that’s important, as well. In a lot of salons, a lot of your clients will be female dominated. So, I would hope that there is a very supportive environment for women who are pregnant. And, why is that important? Because, an employer is obliged to do something called a pregnancy risk assessment when they find out that an employee is pregnant. As soon as they find out the employee is pregnant. The pregnancy risk assessment will look at things like how long are they standing? Have they any complications with their pregnancy? Because we know every pregnancy is different. The same mummy can have four babies, the four pregnancies can be entirely different. Some are good pregnancies, some are bad pregnancies, some have a bad week, a bad month, complications.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: So, it’s no good saying, “She’s on her fourth baby, the other three were grand.” You have to do a pregnancy risk assessment as soon as you find out they’re pregnant.

Now, if you have a negative environment, where women feel that they can’t come up to a manager and say, “Look, I am pregnant.” They’re gonna delay telling you that they’re pregnant, you’re not gonna be able to do their pregnancy risk assessment. And then, as the baby develops, hormones change, and say they get a reaction to a hair colour, they get a reaction to a beauty treatment; because their hormones will change, their skin will change. That could be your responsibility. You could be liable for that.

You really want to create an atmosphere where women feel secure and confident that they can, in confidence, come to you as soon as they find out. Even if it’s that morning that they find out; a little positive line comes up on the stick, that they can come in and say, “Look, I just wanted to let you know I’m pregnant.” Because then you can decide your duty. I have had situations where women have been all the way up to six, seven months pregnant, and afraid to tell their employers.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, jeez…

Killian Vigna: And that would actually… That would come back on the employer, then, because they haven’t created an environment that they-

Michelle Bolger: Well-

Killian Vigna: So, there’s-

Michelle Bolger: Well, there’s creating the environment; ideally you should have given them a handbook.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Their employee handbook. You know, the thing we keep going on and on about. Employee handbook, and their contract. And I know, it’s like, “Oh, Michelle, shut up already.” But, if you have that in place, you will have something on maternity leave, and you will have something to say, “Look, as soon as you know, please come to us in confidence and tell us.” They have been told that it’s their responsibility, but if they could prove, for example, that there was a hostile environment that things were about women, yeah you could be responsible if there’s any issues there.

Killian Vigna: So, just-

Michelle Bolger: Okay, so maybe that’s something to consider.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: If I was a salon owner, and none of my staff has come in to say that they’re pregnant, at this stage, the pregnancy risk assessment that you’re talking about, is that guidelines that you can apply… ‘Cause you said you have to request it, or submit it, is that just you looking around your own salon, or…

Michelle Bolger: Pregnancy risk assessment is… Now, we do it in ESA for a lot of our clients, and we can do it over the phone.

Killian Vigna: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: Okay. It’s not something that’s gonna take hours. Ideally, you want it done by a competent person. The legislation doesn’t say that it needs to be done by a health and safety qualified person, but a competent person.

Yes, you as a salon owner can do it, if you feel that you are competent and able to do it, and you’re happy to stand over it, if something goes wrong. That’s the first thing. You can get some… I’m sure you can Google some pregnancy risk assessments, or go to the HSA site and download a generic pregnancy risk assessment.

Now, what that pregnancy risk assessment does, is it asks specific questions to do with… Let me think of examples. How long are they standing? Do they feel warm enough? Because, again, a lot of women will feel… Will be more sensitive to temperature when they’re pregnant. So, you don’t want them getting cold, you don’t want them… Look, it’s… I know, I know there are women out there who will say, “I rubbed my belly the whole time. I felt glowing and fabulous and wonderful.” Equally, I know a lot of women who really struggled with it. And there’s tightening trousers, button issues, and they feel the cold; they’re not comfortable, they could be scared, they could have complications; anything could be happening. So, we really want to take [inaudible 00:15:42] and we want to address, early on, any of those issues that they might be having.

We want to let them know in the confidential one-to-one where they’re having the pregnancy risk assessment, as well. If, at any point during their pregnancy they start having issues, right? If they start to notice that, actually, when I’m washing hair, I felt that my hands were starting really drying up, it’s uncomfortable, it’s itchy, that they are confident that they can come to you and they can say, “Look, this is what’s happening to me.” So that we can address it as soon as possible.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So, as you’re saying, you can reduce risks like that. What happens in the case that you can’t reduce a risk and that that person just cannot stay in the salon?

Michelle Bolger: That’s really important. Yeah. So, you might have a situation where someone develops an issue. Now, it might be an issue that they have themselves, as in a complication to do with their own pregnancy. It might be something in the workplace. When it’s something in the workplace, let’s say the chemicals that you’re using on client’s hair or something like that, and it’s something that you can’t remove, there is an option for the employee to go on this thing called health and safely leave for the duration of the pregnancy. Now, health and safety leave is protected, like maternity leave. So, it’s not a case where they go on leave and then suddenly they get a letter in the post saying that they’ve been fired because they can’t work, or anything like that. It is protected.

This is about really protecting the mother and the baby. Why a lot of women don’t like going on this leave is because the employer will pay their salary for the first few weeks of the health and safety leave, okay? But then, it defaults to the benefits payment. So, there’s going to be a drop, usually, it’s a drop, in their monies to the health and safety benefit payment. Right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: There’s a lot of technicalities with it. I don’t want to get too far into it, but ideally, what we would ask employers to do is, where someone presents or they have an issue, to do your best to navigate your way around the issue. Is it a case whereby if it’s a certain shampoo, or if it’s a colour that’s bothering them, can you get them to wear gloves that are comfortable? Can you get someone else to wash the hair? Could you get someone else to put… Is there anything else that they can do, in there? Could they just do the cuts and the hair, and have someone else do the colours?

Really sit down with them and see, what is the issue? And are there, first a protocol, are there any ways that we can navigate around it, to keep you in the workplace?

Only if it’s a case of, we absolutely cannot get around this. There’s no way to do it. Maybe it’s a case of it’s a small salon, and there’s only two or three members of staff, and it’s just not a case where someone can just do all the cuts and someone else does the coloring; then, okay, we’re gonna have to look at health and safety leave. But what I would say is, it’s not something that a lot of women like taking. It puts a lot of pressure on women, because it’s a reduction in money, when really, it’s at a time when they want to be getting as much money as possible, so that they can prepare for the new arrival.

Killian Vigna: If that health and safety leave… If there is no workaround, is that pretty much instant, like, “I’m sorry, we can’t have you in the salon, you’re gonna have to take it now.” Or, is there a little grace period in between?

Michelle Bolger: Well, what we would advise in ESA to do, first of all, is that as soon as the employee notices that there’s an issue; if it’s not something that instantly caught in the pregnancy risk assessment, which can happen, they might not have an issue for the first three months, they might not have an issue for six months, and then in the seventh month their body just goes bananas, and suddenly decides no, I can’t be near the chemicals, for whatever reason, and they’re breaking out.

The first instance, what we would say is, can the company afford to send them to a doctor? To just make sure that that is what’s causing it. Can the doctor recommend things that they could get out of it. I mean, a doctor’s appointment is only 50 or 60 Euro.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: It’s not gonna cost the world to an employer. But it might mean the world to an employee.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, I’d say so, yeah.

Killian Vigna: And it shows that you’re making that effort, as well.

Michelle Bolger: Absolutely. Absolutely. Again, there’s no legislative requirement for it, but we would say, send them to a doctor, and make sure that is what’s causing it. It has happened, in the past, that someone might say, “Okay, this is what’s causing… I think it’s the colour at work.” And it ended up actually being the soap that they’re using at home to wash the clothes. Do you get me?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: So, just in the first instance, do what you can to really help them out and see. If the doctor comes back and says, no, look this is an issue related to the pregnancy, or it is something that’s work-related, then what we would do is we would recommend that you meet with the employee. Sit down with them and say, “Okay, look, this is what the issue is. This is what it means to us. I’ve looked at the roster, I can’t see a way around it. Is there any way that you can see around this?” Engage with them. Talk with them. Not talk to them, or at them. Talk with them. Is there any way you can see around getting this… Getting through this?

Now, if you can’t, at the end of that, then you’re gonna have to send a letter. I would recommend that you meet with them again and explain that there’s no way around it, and then give them the letter saying, look, we’re gonna have to put you on health and safety leave for your health, and for the safety of your baby. We’re gonna have to put you on this leave; here’s what this means. Your job is protected 100%. The health and safety leave does not affect their maternity leave entitlement. So, that’s another thing. They don’t need to worry that, “Oh my God, I’ve to go on health and safety leave, I’m only six months pregnant, does that mean I have to come back four weeks after I have the baby?” No. Health and safety leave is separate from maternity leave.

Killian Vigna: But does that lead into your maternity… So, would you be on health and safety until maternity starts, is that-

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. Until maternity starts, or unless the issue resolves itself, or goes away, which can also happen.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. So, it’s just a case of keeping communication with it?

Michelle Bolger: Exactly. Communication is key because I think if you will take the time, and you respect someone enough to sit down with them, and go, look, this is where my problem is. I can’t have you suffering from, let’s say, eczema or being ill. Actually, physically being ill because of the smells, or something, or because something touches your skin. It’s not safe for you. I sent you to the doctor, the doctors confirmed that it is work-related, or that this is a complication with your pregnancy; it’s just something… I don’t wanna say a side effect, because pregnancy isn’t a sickness, but it’s related to your pregnancy, but when I’m looking at the roster, and I’m looking at ways how to do this; I can’t see a way to keep you in here, to keep you away from those things.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And at the end of the day-

Michelle Bolger: How much better is that? Someone coming to you and going, “Look, the doctor says it’s work-related, we’re gonna have to put you on health and safety leave.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. That’s kind of harsh, yeah.

Michelle Bolger: How offensive is that?

Killian Vigna: So, Michelle, you’ve got… So, say you either you do, or you don’t have your health and safety leave; then we’ve already discussed the antenatal and during it. Is there any, I suppose, approach for when they come back? So, when an employee comes back to the salon, do they still have any extra entitlements or anything else?

Michelle Bolger: Yep. Okay, when someone is out on their maternity leave, okay, they are still accruing their holidays, as if they were working. Right? So their normal annual entitlement is still being accrued. And any entitlement to public holidays. Right? Now, that’s being accrued… This is important, so it’s not just I’ve slowed down, the coffee is still kicking in. That’s accrued because, by law, you cannot pay somebody for holidays not taken. So, you cannot, as an employer, pay a woman who is on maternity leave… Let’s say she’s on maternity leave in August, and there’s an August Bank holiday, right? You can’t just put through her wages for that public holiday, in August, if she’s still on maternity leave. You have to wait until she is ready to come back to work to pay her.

Killian Vigna: So that null and voids-

Michelle Bolger: Now, how does that work?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: This gets a little bit hairy now, so stick with me, right?

Killian Vigna: Do we need to get a coffee, as well, do we?

Michelle Bolger: I’d say a Red Bull, no. What does that mean? When a woman is preparing to come back to work, right? She’s either gonna take the 26 weeks on the bone, or she can take an extended 16 weeks, right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yep. And that needs a notice…

Michelle Bolger: Yep. The 16 weeks, she doesn’t accrue entitlements, okay? But, regardless of that, four weeks before someone intends to return to work, they have to give a written notice to the employer to say, “Hi employer, I had lovely maternity leave, just to let you know, in four weeks, on X date, I will be returning to work.” They have to do that by law. It’s actually very important that employees do that, because the law is very strict there, and an employer, if they don’t get that four weeks notice, could, potentially, say, “I’m sorry, you didn’t give me the four weeks notice.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: “Your job’s gone.”

Killian Vigna: Your job’s gone?

Michelle Bolger: I’ve only ever seen that hap… Yeah. I’ve only ever seen that happen once.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But then when they do-

Michelle Bolger: It was awful, but that is the law.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But when they do write that notice, then they’re entitled to get their job back.

Michelle Bolger: Yes. 100%. Okay? So, they have to give the four weeks notice, that they’re coming back. Now, why is that important from an employer’s point of view, as well? Because they might just be taking the 26 weeks, so an employer might have hired someone, on a fixed-term contract, to cover that maternity leave, for the 26 weeks. They might also have said, to that fixed-term employee, “I don’t know if she’s going to take the additional 16 weeks, or not, yet…”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: “…So, there may or may not be more work to come.” So the employee… The lady who just had the lovely pink baby has to give the four weeks notice so that you, as an employer, can say, “Okay, fixed-term employee, I’ve gotten this in to say now that she intends to come back after the end of the 26 weeks. You won’t be needed for additional 16 weeks.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yep.

Michelle Bolger: Do you see why that’s important?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yep.

Killian Vigna: Yep.

Michelle Bolger: Excuse me. So, additionally, if a woman is going to take more than the 26 weeks, right? So, she could take the full, additional 16 weeks. She might only want four of those 16 weeks; she has to let you know, as well; what she’s going to take at that juncture.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. So, you don’t have to take those additional 16 weeks, and you don’t have to take the full 16 weeks, either.

Killian Vigna: You still have to give… Let’s say you’re only taking 12 weeks, you still have to give the four weeks notice of when you’re coming back, is that… Or once you’re in those additional 16 weeks, can you-

Michelle Bolger: Well, what I would say is, you have your 26 weeks of what we would cast the normal maternity leave, okay? What most people would take, is the 26 weeks. On the 22nd week, at the least, you want a letter from that employee saying, “Dear employer, I’m coming back in four weeks.” Or, “Dear employer, my 26 weeks maternity leave is up in four weeks, but I would like to take 12 additional weeks.”

Killian Vigna: Okay, so you have to state how many additional weeks you want to take?

Michelle Bolger: On the 22nd week of maternity leave, they have to let you know, am I coming back in four weeks, am I taking additional maternity leave?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Okay?

Killian Vigna: Yep.

Michelle Bolger: It’s not okay for an employee to say to you, “Look, I’m supposed to be back in four weeks, but I don’t know.” And I have seen this happen, “I don’t know because his mom said that she might mind the baby, but now she’s being a bit weird about it, and I’m not really sure if I’m coming back.” That’s not good enough.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, because-

Michelle Bolger: You have to be very clear.

Killian Vigna: At the end of the day, as the employer has another employee that they need to look out for, as well.

Michelle Bolger: Exactly.

Killian Vigna: At the end of the day, the employer has another employee to look out for as well throughout that period.

Michelle Bolger: Exactly. And it’s the same with the additional 16 weeks. The additional 16 weeks doesn’t mean that an employee can go, “Look, I’m gonna take one week, and I don’t know if I’m gonna be taking more, or not. It all depends on his money, or if he gets this bonus.” That’s not how that works, either.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Okay, it’s not a week by week basis. You have to be clear and bite the bullet, unfortunately. And I know, it’s very, very tough… for women. There’s a lot to… No, but for women and men, there’s an awful lot to take into consideration; are they gonna get childcare coming, afford childcare. Will the sister mind them for two days, will the nanny mind them, will his mummy mind them? What’s gonna happen? And they get all that, but unfortunately, we don’t have a kind of a set up where we can give that kind of flexibility, so they will have to tell the employer… that they’re coming back.

Killian Vigna: It seems fair enough, yeah.

Michelle Bolger: It does seem fair. [inaudible 00:29:31]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So, you touched upon a few bank holidays, and things like that, so maybe if we just move on to staff holiday entitlement.

Michelle Bolger: Okay. Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Because there was one thing, there, you were saying like, if you’re still on maternity and you… So, if you’re on maternity throughout bank holidays, those can’t be taken as holidays, but, yeah, so it kind of brings us to another point of… We hear this a lot, coming near the end of the year, oh, you have holidays you have to take. You can’t carry them over, things like that. So, what are the legalities around those? Legalities? Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Yep, look at you, Killian.

Killian Vigna: Big words.

Michelle Bolger: You’re saying it better than me. I’m going balahlaaah. So, when it comes to holidays, right? Here’s the rule with holidays. I’m just gonna take an average because it’s easier to talk about an average for the purpose of keeping this succinct and brief enough that your listeners aren’t going to be slowly dying into their … [inaudible 00:30:35] or iPods! Let’s say the average employee is entitled to 20 days off a year.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yep.

Michelle Bolger: Okay, so we’re talking about a full-time employee is entitled to 20 days off in a year, right? That is their minimum. If they’re working over 1,365 hours and they’re full time, they are entitled to 20 days annual leave, excluding bank holidays. Right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Those 20 days, you as the employer, have to ensure that they have taken. You have to ensure that they have taken those days. If they haven’t taken those days, and there isn’t something very strange, or unusual that’s gone on, and they haven’t taken those days, you are the person who is responsible for that. Could they take a case on that? Yes, they could.

Killian Vigna: So…

Michelle Bolger: Can they take a case and still work for you? Yes, they can. How do you manage that, realistically?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: What you’re gonna have to do, I would say, is every quarter you will get a lovely person in pay-roll to print off a list of your employees, and to say how many holidays they’re entitled to, and how many they have taken. Right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: What is gonna happen the first quarter… Okay, it’s not gonna be too bad. The second quarter is going to be interesting because if you find that you have an employee, you’ve come to that point, it’s June, July, and you noticed that they still have 19 days left. You have to think from a business point of view, okay how are we going to manage this, in six months, they’re gonna be gone for 19 days.

It’s gonna be a flag for you, as well. Why haven’t they taken those holidays? What’s going on, there? Right? What you can do, as an employer, what I would say is, anyone who is stuck with a lot of holidays, at that point, and you can’t see that they’ve actually booked time off, that they haven’t booked two weeks off, and they haven’t booked anything, you don’t have to send out a letter. You can just call them in and say to them, “Listen, I’m after having a look here, and you still have a lot of holidays left. What’s happening there?”

Now, you’re gonna get the employee who goes, “Oh, I know, but I was planning to take two weeks off here, and two weeks off when the kids go back to school.” Fine. You know kind of what’s happening. You should say to them, at that juncture, “Well, you need to book that in, because it’s first come, first serve, and if someone else takes it, we’re stuck.”

You might have someone who could go, and this has happened, “Oh, well I’m actually saving for a house, and I’m gonna ask you if you could pay me for those days instead if I don’t take them?” Absolutely not. It’s not an option. You are not paying them for those 20 days. You can’t. It’s illegal. It’s gonna get you in hot water.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s good to know.

Michelle Bolger: They have to take those holiday days. Okay?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: You could also get the person, who might turn around and say to you, “Oh myself and the boyfriend talked about maybe going to Australia or South America, for three weeks.” Right? Now, why is that interesting? That’s interesting because three weeks is a long time to take off, and you might want to say to them, “Well, you can’t take three weeks off in August, it’s our busiest time.”

It’s good that way, you can filter through exactly what’s happening. Can you, as an employer, just let somebody take holidays? Yes. If it gets to… I normally give people until September to really outline to me where they’re going to take their holidays, and when they’re going to take them. I would write down what they’re saying they’re gonna take at that juncture. And say right, I’m putting it up on the roster, what you’re saying you’re taking.

If they don’t take them, I would recommend that you call them in and say, “Look, it’s now November, you have 10 holidays left.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: “December is mad busy for us. I’m allocating you these holidays.”

Killian Vigna: So you can actually tell them when they have to take holidays.

Michelle Bolger: You can tell them. Now, if they come back and they say, “Look, I know you said that I was to take Monday the 5th until Friday off, but actually, could I take the following week?” If that suits, that’s fine. The point of this exercise is to make sure that they have taken their statutory entitlement to those 20 days.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And-

Michelle Bolger: Okay. Now, if they come back and they go, “Oh, that doesn’t suit me, and la la la la la la la, and I didn’t want to take it.” It’s kind of tough, because, in the nicest way possible, if they don’t take it, you’re exposed to potential suits. So, they have to take it.

Killian Vigna: So, is that a case of… Just before the whole exposure thing, and to kind of be subjected to a suit, you were saying that you could make an employee take holidays, but are you also entitled to… Because you see it in the hotel industry, and stuff like that… and you know in salons in November, December they’re going to be really, really busy. You are entitled to say that you can’t holidays in this month or that month?

Michelle Bolger: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely you can block holidays. I know a lot of fashion retailers who would say, for example, let’s say they have a lot of stores, and they would have an area manager and then they have a lot of managers and supervisors, and all that. They can’t afford for the area managers and a lot of the managers to be off at the same time. So they will actually, specifically, say to them, “Okay, in the spring, in the first quarter, you’re entitled to one week off. And you can take that during the month of March. In the summer, you’re entitled to two weeks off, and you can take that between June and July. And in the winter, you’re entitled to one week off, and you take that during the month of October.”

You can be specific enough that you can actually say these are your dates for your holidays.

Killian Vigna: Oh, wow. So it’s more of a case of-

Michelle Bolger: A lot of people don’t do that. I would hate for any employer to suddenly [inaudible 00:36:55]. I’m going to start allocating everybody holidays because it’s going to make my life easier. I guarantee you, it is not going to make your life easier, demanding everybody take holidays when you said so. Because what they’re gonna start doing, is you’re going to get a queue outside your door, the next morning, of angry faces, probably having had their head chewed off by their other half. And then sent in, with a stern warning, like Jack in the Beanstalk, “Do not come back unless you have sold that cow and you have that first week in May off. Don’t even look at me, don’t come home if you haven’t done it.” You’re going to get a really disgruntled workforce.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Essentially, you just want to have a clear idea of what’s going on and what/why people have taken holidays, or not.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. You’re gonna have to take it… Sometimes you’re gonna have to bite the bullet. You might be a little thinner on in staff than you would like, but can you work through it? Yes, you can work through it. If you can work through it, do work through it.

Holidays are important for people. I think in Ireland, it’s weird, the way we look at holidays. We look it as people merely skiting off. Away from work. But actually, if you don’t give them that time off, they’re not gonna function properly when they come back. Even from a business point of view, let them take their holidays.

Killian Vigna: You need a refresher.

Michelle Bolger: Let them take their holidays. Yeah, make sure that they take them. Another little interesting thing that a lot of people don’t know, is that when someone does take their holidays, you are legally required to pay them their holiday pay before they leave.

Killian Vigna: Really?

Michelle Bolger: Now-

Killian Vigna: So they can actually get that in the paycheck before they go on holidays?

Michelle Bolger: They can get their holiday pay before they go on holiday, yes. Now, with that said, I would take a guess that 80 to 90% of Irish businesses don’t do that. Possibly because they pay people monthly, they pay them every two weeks. It doesn’t seem to be a big issue. In all the years that I’m doing this, I have never seen someone put in a claim because they didn’t get their holiday pay beforehand.

Killian Vigna: Because that would be your fear of going on holidays, if I’ve booked the holidays, but I’m losing two weeks pay, because it doesn’t come in ’till the next month.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. Absolutely. Some people would be like, “Oh, I could really do with that money before the holidays.” They are entitled to it, but should an employee come up to you and say, “I’m going on holidays.” And if they say something like, “Can I get paid that week, or that two weeks, beforehand?” They are legally entitled to it.

Killian Vigna: That’s a big one, actually.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. No, it is a big one. Now, as I would say, I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a company where they have done that. It’s always just been, your pay is your pay, and that’s fine. But just so that your listeners know, that is something that they are entitled to. And they’re not being snarky with you; that is the law.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, no like-

Michelle Bolger: [inaudible 00:39:59] that is the law.

Killian Vigna: Like you were saying, we were unaware of it, so surely the reason most people don’t ask for it is because they’re unaware of it.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. Yeah. As I say, I’m doing this now… I’m not gonna tell you how many years I’m doing this now, and I have never seen… Even where I have gotten claims in from a solicitor, who knows the law inside and out, and they’re doing what we call the scatter-gun claim, you know, where they put in everything. It’s actually about one issue, but they list everything from when the person first started, so that you really get your hackles up and go, “Oh, jeez, right how are we going to handle this?” And they wouldn’t… I’ve never seen it listed in even one of those types of claims. Because I suppose once the person’s been paid, they’ve been paid, so what really are you going to go after them for?

Killian Vigna: Yeah, exactly.

Michelle Bolger: And if they didn’t ask for it, beforehand. If an employee does ask for it beforehand, that is their entitlement. Dun dun dun.

Killian Vigna: Yeah I know-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So much information to take in.

Michelle Bolger: Right now, I can imagine their faces and their eyes are just going, ” … “!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Even our faces, just now.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Suddenly Zoe and Killian are off to the side, on their phone, booking a holiday… “I can do Vegas, baby!”

Killian Vigna: I’m on Ryanair already.

Michelle Bolger: It’s still only the money they’re entitled to. They’re not getting double the salary.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Do you get me? It’s still only their wages.

Killian Vigna: But it’s that reassurance that… Yeah. It’s that reassurance that you can have money before you go on, so when you go on holidays, you’re not doing that penny pinching, because the money doesn’t come in in your next wage check. So, yeah, no that’s the… That’s definitely the big one for me in this interview.

Michelle Bolger: Well, you see that for an employee is gonna be a big one for an employer, not so much. But just remember, this is Auntie Shelley talking to you now, just remember that when you get those wages that you’re not getting your wages, then, for the two weeks you’re on holidays.

Killian Vigna: Exactly.

Michelle Bolger: You’re still down that money. You’re not making money.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Jeez, it’d be even better again if we’d make money.

Michelle Bolger: You’re still gonna come back and probably be eating cornflakes for a week, until the money  comes back in.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Right, so, okay. So, those maternity leave, holiday entitlement, and now we’re down to our third one, which is freedom of speech/social media. We touched upon it earlier days of the podcast; you even wrote a blog on it. My employee was out last night, they posted drunk photos on their Facebook, what can I do?

Killian Vigna: And then they called in sick.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, they called in sick, yeah, exactly!

Michelle Bolger: So, I loved that one.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That was a great one.

Killian Vigna: First off, put your profile on private.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: I love the meeting where you call the man in your life, where you’re dying, and they’re like, “Oh my God, I’ve never known pain like that.” You’re like, “Oh, Jesus, could even watch Game of Thrones?” “No, I couldn’t watch the telly.” And, “Can I just show you this?” You bring it up and you actually see them genuine, you feel as sick as they’ve pretended they’ve been over the weekend. Love it. That’s the sick part of me, but, yeah, Facebook is very interesting, as is Twitter, and we have Trump to thank for that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: We all know, thanks to Trump, that there are times when we should just put the damn phone down.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Don’t post it on social media. Not everybody needs to know your opinion. The problem with Facebook, I think, is that we’re not sure, as a society, what Facebook is. It means very different things to different people. Some people use it as merely…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: A journal.

Michelle Bolger: A projection of who they want to be. Some people use it as a journal. Right? I would like to say to those people, “I don’t care what you had for lunch.” It really was not worth me checking out my phone to see that you had a salad. Or that you made a smoothie, at home. However, those things, are not offensive.

Some people use it to vent. We all know… I know right now you can think of your top three people, in your Facebook friends, who just vent, all the time. They vent and they rant, right? Again, what I would like to say to those people is, “This isn’t healthy, it’s not a healthy expression of your feelings. You’re not doing yourself any good.” Redirect. Redirect, people.

What can happen is, because it means so many different things for different people, and there’s no kind of qualification on it, that people do use it in their own ways, and they do use it to express themselves in ways that they, probably, wouldn’t in a face-to-face scenario.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Now, can an employer put restrictions on what can be put on Facebook? Yes. But what’s important for the employer is that they have a policy set up to deal with that, in the first instance. There’s no point, having never talked to anybody about it before about it before, having no policy in place, there being absolutely nothing; an employee leaves work one day, she had a load of snotty clients, you chewed the head off her for something she forgot to do, her mom is sick, her kid is sick, she’s just had a crappy day, and she leaves, and she says, on Facebook, “Such a shit day at work, wish I could pack it all in.”

Now, are you going to fire her over that? Or him? People have, people have, but we wouldn’t recommend it. We wouldn’t stand over it. One, because they what they said there is they had a shit day at work. They haven’t actually…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Said anything about-

Michelle Bolger: Specifically anybody, they haven’t named as a client. It might be an opportune time to call them in and address that. Look to yourself before you look to them and say, well, what did happen today that she left here that annoyed, and how did that go? Did we overload her with clients? What were the issues with those clients? Were they justified issues?

There’s a lot that you should be doing in-house before you just jump on the employee, as well. There’s a lot that that message can tell you, there’s a lot that you can look at. Now, there’s very different levels of what people will say on Facebook. And the fact of the matter is… Yeah, there’s very different worlds, and we all know, we can all think of a post, I guarantee you, in the last week, or two, that we’ve kind of gone, “Holy mother of God, what are you doing?”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And it’s usually followed by like… Unfollow that person.

Michelle Bolger: Exactly. Or else, if you’re a really good friend, call them up and be like, “Get that down, now. Get it down, now.” It can vary. And that’s the problem with Facebook and with the cases that are coming up.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: ‘Cause it is a hot topic, at the moment.

Michelle Bolger: Go ahead. Sorry.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: ‘Cause it is a hot topic – like we were speaking off air, and you were saying it was a very hot topic in the US at the moment, especially.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. It’s crazy because some of the examples I was given in the US were a teacher, an American teacher, who looks lovely, by all accounts… By her Facebook account. Very lovely and wonderful. Came to Ireland, went to the Guinness Storehouse, and had a few drinks. And took pictures of herself enjoying a pint of Guinness, and having some glasses of wine, being on her holiday. Returned to the States and was promptly fired by the board, because they felt those pictures didn’t reflect what they wanted from their professional cohort of teachers. Now, that case hasn’t been heard yet. It’s still only listed, but I would be inclined to think that she is going to get her job back, because she was enjoying drinks, on her holiday; she wasn’t teaching, she wasn’t in charge of anybody, it was her private time. She was enjoying drinks, that’s fine.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: And it’s on her own personal account, like yeah.

Michelle Bolger: It’s on her personal account. Then we have one of a cop and she put down on Facebook how she had, essentially, ninja-kicked a hospital worker in the face, broken his glasses, and busted his nose; and was bragging about it. She was fired because she has herself down, identified on Facebook, as a policewoman, police person.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: I don’t know what’s PC anymore.

Killian Vigna: Police officer.

Michelle Bolger: I swear, the employment law people making everything PC. When will it end, people? When will the madness end?

But she had identified herself as, essentially, a public servant, and carrying out a very aggressive act, that was totally illegal, and she was promptly fired. So, we can see the difference in those two scenarios.

I can also think of this one, that might be titillating for everyone involved… of cheerleaders in America. Calm yourself, Killian. They were fired for putting up a picture on Facebook, right? That wasn’t congruent with how their employer wanted the cheerleaders to be seen. Now, I put it to you, Killian, and Zoe, that one might think that these pictures were of them in the nit, right? But it wasn’t. The pictures were actually of both of these insanely beautiful women, dressed in trackie gear, so nothing really on show, however, they were drawing on an unconscious man, on a couch, clearly just zonked from the drink, and what they had drawn on him, in markers were-

Killian Vigna: You could imagine.

Michelle Bolger: With a penis, on the cheek. And they had written, “I’m a Jew”, on his arm. There was loads of other scribbles on him, he was like a four-year-old colouring book. He was covered. But, because they had drawn the penis, and because they had written, “I’m a Jew”, that was considered… Now, this was on their own time, they weren’t representing anybody at this party, it wasn’t a function, as it were. It wasn’t anything like that. But, they were representing-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: They were still representing the brand. Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: They were still be seen as representing… Yeah. It just wasn’t considered right, so they were promptly fired.

Killian Vigna: Surely, those cheerleaders would almost be at a level where they’d be recognized by people in the public. So, yeah, so they’re representing the brand, but they’re also kind of… they’re own… It’d be like, not on the level, but of an actual footballer, say.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah, yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: They kind of have a certain responsibility.

Michelle Bolger: No, I agree, I agree. Yep. That’s why it’s hard to give a, “This is what you should and shouldn’t do”, on Facebook. You’re going to have different levels of, I suppose, employees, of clients. But the most [inaudible 00:51:12] deal with, what we call celebrity clients, anything like that.

You have to be sure of yourself, as a manager or an owner, of a salon. What are you going to allow? And if you’re a person… if you’re the manager and you say, “Oh, I want to get on great with everybody here and I’m always… “, you send every text with a kissy, kissy, kissy at the end of it. And it’s, “Hi, honey.” And, “Can you come in tomorrow? Could you cover for me? Going out tonight, I’ll be in I’ll be in no fit state tomorrow. Kissy, kissy, kissy, kissy.”

Well, really and truly, you’re opening the door for them to send something like that back to you? If you’re someone who uses Facebook and you use it in a way… If you take a picture of an employee, and I have seen it done, if you take a picture of an employee and go, “Head on her, she was out all night, poor, poor Sarah.” Or whatever. Your employees are gonna do that, as well.

Killian Vigna: You’re giving them the opportunity because you’re the manager, the leader, and if that’s what you’re doing, they’re gonna follow.

Michelle Bolger: Yes, so be mindful of how you are using Facebook. Be mindful of how… If you in the salon, as well, and you’re saying to your clients, even your good clients that you’ve known for years, and you’re going, “Oh my God, I feel so sorry for Anne today. She was out until 2 in the morning, the head on her over there, and she’s working on a client.” That’s not professional. ‘Cause what you’re saying to your client is, one, she is hungover to hell, she probably shouldn’t be doing someone’s hair and she’s dying over there. Two, I’m gossiping about a colleague to you. And I’m publishing that, in a way, as well. Be mindful. If you’re gonna put in a policy, you’ve gotta stick to that policy yourself. And the tone that you set on the day-to-day, in work, is gonna have a huge impact on that.

Killian Vigna: So, you were saying earlier about… And just what you touched off there, so if you put up a post on Facebook, “Ah, had a shit day at work.” Be rational there, because it’s being generic and they’re not actually dissing anyone or anything. But I put up a post, and actually start dissing-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Said something disrespectful, or even mean towards a client, even.

Killian Vigna: Yes, even if I didn’t use the client’s names, I was just kind of, I suppose, slagging some clients off; would you have a stronger stance there, now?

Michelle Bolger: Oh, 100%. There’s a few things that are popping off in my head, right now, as I’m thinking of that. One, remember that Facebook is published material. So, essentially, when you put something on Facebook, it is as if you have published it in the newspaper. Or a magazine.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: So, think of it that way, first all. When you interact with Facebook, that is what you are doing. Facebook, Twitter, anything like that; imagine that it’s your own newspaper and you are presenting this, to the world. Right? So, in the same way, as if you said on Facebook to Zoe, “Oh my God, that Michelle one- couldn’t stay awake. She’s just so boring and have you seen the state of her?” Right? If you say that, people would know that you’re talking about me from that, because they knew that you were dealing with me this morning, they knew that we were doing this interview. I’m recognizable from that. Because I’m recognizable from that, there is actually potential there for a defamation case under the defamation act. So, be mindful that it’s not just even employment out there, you could actually be opening yourself up to…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: An actual-

Michelle Bolger: An actual suit-suit, as opposed to a claim or a disciplinary action, or anything like that.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: From the employer’s point of view, yes, 100%, if someone puts that out there, and they send it to…. You cannot know how many friends Zoe has on her… You can’t know who they know, and who they’re related to, or where that’s gonna go. Once you publish that, you don’t know how far that’s gonna go.

I don’t if anybody’s seen on Facebook, have you seen that a lot of schools now are putting up posters, and there will just be a picture saying, “We’re trying to teach third class how far a post on Facebook can go, please like and share and tell us what country it ends up in.”

And it’s to show them that something that can start from a classroom in Dublin can go to China, can get thousands and thousands of views. You have no control over how far that goes, but if you are going to say something, it’s not that… You do not have the defence to say, “Oh, but I just sent that to Zoe.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. It’s muddy waters, yeah.

Michelle Bolger: [crosstalk 00:55:58]. You have no idea how far that went, you don’t know if that got back to the client. That’s detrimental to the business. And most companies, again, I’m coming back to the boring [inaudible 00:56:04], your policies, your procedures, your contracts should have reference to this. If you bring the company into this [inaudible 00:56:14], you will be subject to disciplinary action.

Does that mean you have to do disciplinary action and fire them? No. You can bring them in and you could give them a caution. You could bring them in and you could find that, actually, there were reasons for what they said, and I don’t think it deserves a disciplinary action. Or, yeah if it was serious enough, you could potentially fire them. There’s no one size fits all. You have to look at the whole thing.

Killian Vigna: If someone puts it up on Facebook, though, and if you bring it up, do you have to have proof of that post? Because, like you said, if you put up a post, that could get viewed in China almost minutes later. So, if they deleted, but they had a screenshot, then yeah, you have to prove, but if they deleted it and you saw it, but didn’t have screenshot proof-

Michelle Bolger: Okay. That’s a really good question. I’ll tell you why that’s a really good question. There’s a few bits to that, right? And I have had a lot of employers come to me with that.

If you take a screenshot, then we’re good, you have the proof. That’s fine. Let’s say… There’s two scenarios here, let’s say another employee comes up to you and says, “Right, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Sarah was up on Facebook last night and she was saying the most outrageous things about you. That you were a shit manager, she could run the place better, herself. A load of different bits and pieces.” Okay?

What we would ask you to in that situation is that you would ask that employee to, actually, put it down in writing what they had seen. Think of in-house disciplinary action more like a Judge Judy case. You know when Judge Judy sees the two people and she goes, “No, I believe that this is what happened.” She kind of takes a side. Because it doesn’t have to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt If the employee comes to you and says, “Look, I saw it, she deleted it since.” We would ask you to get that employee to write it down, the thoughts that she had seen. Now, your problem there is, you might get an employee going, “Oh, God no, no it can’t. It can’t come from me.”

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Which is fair enough.

Michelle Bolger: Okay. Yeah, you can be… You do have a right to say to them, “You’re after telling me this. You’re obliged to write this down for me.” Do you want to do that? Maybe not. If the employee took it down, straight away, it might have been more worthwhile, in the first… If this is the first time it’s happened, actually call that employee in and say, “Listen, without naming names, I know that you were on Facebook last night and you said x, y and z. Do you want to talk to me about that? Why do you think I would have a problem with that?”

Where is that going? And just warn them. If the employee still has it up, it’s gonna be a different conversation. If you, yourself, have seen it, that’s fine. You don’t need anybody to write it down. You can call them in and say, “I saw this last night. Now, I know you’ve taken it down since, but I saw it. I have a problem with that.” And you can still discipline them.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s fair enough.

Michelle Bolger: You don’t need to have the physical proof there.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, so the main takeaway there is if another employee saw the post, they would have to put it down in writing, or you have no stance. But if you’ve seen it yourself, you bring them in and talk about it.

Michelle Bolger: What I would say is, if the employee who comes to you says, “Oh God no, I don’t want to write it down.” Okay?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: You could still call the offending employee in and say, “Look, I know that you did this last night. Without naming names, without saying look Sarah came to me this morning and told me that she did this. Look, I know that you put this up on Facebook last night, what happened there?”

But if you’re gonna go to disciplinary action, how can they defend something when they have no way to see it, or to know who said it? You can’t call someone into a disciplinary and say, “somebody, but I won’t say who, said that last night, you put up something on Facebook, but it’s no longer there. But I’m going to discipline you now, and you it could lead to you losing your job.”

Why is that a problem? ‘Cause you might not know that Sarah and this employee have had a long-standing feud over an ex. Or something’s been going wrong, and Sarah’s made it up. How can that employee defend herself?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, that’s…

Killian Vigna: Yeah, so it needs to be backed up, basically.

Michelle Bolger: It needs to be backed up. Does it mean that he can’t call the employee in and say, “Listen, I’m left to hearing that this went up on Facebook last night. What’s that about?” And they might turn around and go, “… it did not. Nothing like that ever happened. Oh my God, why would I do something like that?” You’re gonna have to play it by ear.

On the other hand, they might go, “Listen, I had a few drinks on me, I shouldn’t have done it. I’m mortified over it. I can’t apologize enough.” You’re gonna have to make a call. Are they a longstanding employee? Is there a lot going on? Was it that offensive? Again, it’s kind of hard to give, really, I feel like I’m letting you down by not giving you specific advice on it. But because there’s….

Zoe Belisle-Springer: No.

Michelle Bolger: Variables to it. It’s more how you approach it. Again, like I said at the beginning. Fair and reasonable.

Killian Vigna: But that’s it. You’re identifying to find how to approach it, so… Facebook is still so tricky. Like you were saying…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s a growing technology and it’s such muddy waters when you think about it.

Killian Vigna: It’s a grey area, but be rational, [crosstalk 01:01:24]

Michelle Bolger: Unfortunately, there’s gonna have to be a few sacrificial lambs, in that we’re gonna have to get a bit more case logged, we’re gonna have to see it go through the court to get some real hold on it, real traction on it so that we can guide. But what I would say to people is, if you are hiring, if you have a lot of staff, and they’re 18 to early 20s, they are going to handle Facebook very differently than let’s say if you have older staff.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Right? So be aware of the group that you’re dealing with. Be aware of the age, be aware of what they’re coming with. Be mindful. You have an obligation to put a policy and procedure in there. When they’re being inducted on that first day, would it really be that bad to have a list, and on that list… Go through that list… Here are the fire exits, here’s what payday is, here’s the uniform, and by the way, this is our policy on Facebook… And then to support that in your day to day work. That’s the really tough bit.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Is actually… I suppose it’s fairly like a diet. I could sit down and write the world’s most amazing diet right now, we’re all going to lose 20 stone in a day and have glowing skin. Our hair and our nails are going to be amazing; the hard part is following it through, every day.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah I suppose when you look at it… I look at maternity leave, holiday entitlement, Facebook, freedom of speech, it all comes down to two things, basically. Communication and procedures – to have it in your salon’s policies and to be able to communicate properly with your staff.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. A lot of issues, you will find, look, policies and procedures are great. And you need them in, I cannot stress enough how much you need them. And it’s not for the 99% of your staff. It’s for that 1% when something goes wrong. You need them in. And I guarantee you, when something goes wrong, you will not regret having put the money or the time into those procedures. I can guarantee that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: And there’s very few things you can guarantee in law or in life. I guarantee you will not regret putting the money and the time into… However, even where there are breaches, and whether it be the employee breaches or the employer breaches, there are, I would say, 80 to 90% of things can be resolved by talking them through. And can be resolved very quickly and informally by talking them through.

The mistake that a lot of people make, especially managers, is that they ignore it. They’re too busy. They don’t deal with it then and there. Or they think that a text or a phone call will suffice. A text and a phone call will not suffice. You have to meet the person face to face, because a text, you can get the wrong tone across. A text seems like I couldn’t be bothered with you. A phone call, you need to read someone’s body language. You really need that eye to eye contact to be like, okay, are you getting this? Do you understand where I’m coming from? Is this a meaningful conversation?

Where there’s been a breach, where there’s been an incident, even where you think it’s gonna end up with disciplinary action and it’s very serious, I would always say to someone, be it maternity leave issues, be it staff holiday, be it a Facebook issue, anything like that. Always, always, in the first instance, as soon as possible, make that issue your priority. Get the person in and talk to them, one to one, confidentially, in a private area. This is not something that you do at the till.

Killian Vigna: Yeah [crosstalk 01:05:13].

Michelle Bolger: You are going to talk to them somewhere that’s private. And you’re gonna let other people know, “I’m just having a quick chat with James, here, for a minute. Don’t let anybody come in. Don’t put any calls through to me. We’ll only be 15, 20 minutes.”

You will be amazed how much crap that will get out of the way and will maintain a good working relationship. If you ignore it, it’s gonna fester, it’s gonna rot, and then you’re gonna have an issue.

Killian Vigna: I suppose, there’s always no harm, if you feel like this is an issue that’s gonna keep on happening; there’s no harm in just making a log of it, recording it, so you can… Worst case scenario, when it comes to a boiling point, you have a case, you have all the previous offence built up to, “Listen, this isn’t working out.”

Michelle Bolger: Look, I love it. Yeah. I love taking a note of something. What a lot get hung up on is they think that a note has to be legally… Has to be… Very formal. Send an e-mail to your own account, scribble it down in your diary, just note the date, the time that you had the meeting and one or two bullet points on what was said. Just one or two. Something that you can pull out and say, “Now, hang on a second there James. We had a chat about this three months ago. Do you remember on such and such a date, I called you in, and I told you about this. And then last month, I had another meeting with you, and I told you, do you remember on such and such date.” Because if you’re going, “I talked to you about this before.” It’s not good enough, and then if things escalate, where a claim comes in, or you want to be sure that you want to discipline. You’re sure that you want discipline someone, that information is really important to making sure that you, as the employer, are as protected as possible in going through with that action.

Killian Vigna: Exactly.

Michelle Bolger: Rant over.

Killian Vigna: No, I’m just looking like, on that note, Michelle, this is probably been our longest episode.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, it definitely has been. It was so good.

Killian Vigna: It was needed because we’ve covered maternity’s, we’ve covered legalities, and policies around holidays, and time leave, and stuff. And we even managed to cover Facebook, as much of a grey area as it is.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s our 50th episode, our milestone, our first milestone, so, there you go.

Michelle Bolger: Hold on, I’m gonna give you a clap, ready? Go, you guys. Well done for keeping with it.

Killian Vigna: As always, you’ve managed to put clarity around sticky issues and just, I suppose, made it nice and simple.

Michelle Bolger: You are not expected to know everything. You can’t know everything. So, never be afraid to ask for help. Never be afraid to call around. If you call a provider, even like ESA, for example, and you don’t like them, you don’t like the answers you’re getting, call someone else. And Citizen’s Information, now, it’s not 100% proof, I will caution anybody that it’s not 100% proof, but they do have amazing information up on Citizen’s Information, as well. If you’re in that situation where you want to know more specifics, you’ve seen something on the Phorest Blog, you want to see something more specific on it. You don’t have maybe the funds to go to a provider, like ESA, then go somewhere like Citizen’s Information. Call them up, ask them, ask me, or ask it’s free.

But never be afraid to ask, and there’s no way… Sometimes people will [inaudible 01:08:37] a call to me and say, “Look, I know this is a stupid question,” And I would say to anybody, and really I know it sounds a bit trite, and a bit like a school teacher, there are no stupid questions. There just aren’t. Always ask, find out for yourself, because once you’re sure, you will feel more confident going forward. And it’s more important… I would rather a 100 people ask the same question, 100 times and eventually get it right than nobody asks the question and we just keep getting it wrong.

Killian Vigna: Everyone just walking around headless.

Michelle Bolger: There’s lots of sources out there for you to get the information. If you are too busy for it, you just want a quick answer, then yes, a provider is a great way to do that, but Workplace Relations Commission are very helpful if things get to that stage. [inaudible 01:09:18] is very good, and Citizen’s Information.

Killian Vigna: And we’ll trail all those links into the podcast description.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, absolutely. Michelle, thank you so much for being on the show with us today.

Killian Vigna: It’s been brilliant.

Michelle Bolger: You’re very, very welcome. Anytime, my loveys. Okay? Take it easy!

Killian Vigna: Listen, have a great day and enjoy the rest of college.

Michelle Bolger: You too.

Killian Vigna: Enjoy highlighting!

Michelle Bolger: I will. Bye!

Killian Vigna: Bye. So that was Michelle Bolger from ESA Consultants with a mindful of information, there. It’s gonna be a really long episode, but definitely worth it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Definitely.

Killian Vigna: Three, four major areas covered there.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah and to be honest, we’ll get her back on the show later on, at some stage, just to keep doing that. Every few months, you know.

Killian Vigna: She’s our Phorest FM regular. Just like Valerie Delforge.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly.

Killian Vigna: They’re part of the furniture now.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right, so what do we have for the webinars this week?

Killian Vigna: So we have one webinar this week, and this is for our Phorest Salon Software clients. It’s the Salon Growth Series. Boost your online presence and attract new business. That one’s gonna be hosted by Niamh Greany in-house here. This chapter Salon Growth Series, Niamh will compare what’s more important, word of mouth marketing or reviews. You’ll learn how crucial your online reputation is to the success of your business. She’ll analyze what potential customers are searching for online, and she’ll help you identify the three key areas you need to position your salon.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That sounds pretty great. And then on November 20th, we have the Instagram master class, which we always have every month. And that’s from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, UK Ireland time, or 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM US Eastern time. And the way you can register for this is: go onto our Facebook page, into the event section; you’ll find Phorest Academy Instagram Master Class event, you click on that, then you click on find tickets or ticket information. We’ll drive you to a landing page, fill in your details, and get your unique link.

Killian Vigna: Cool. And as always, the webinars are free, so jump onboard with us, free information.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: No better way to learn than hands on.

Killian Vigna: Exactly. Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: We’re not gonna hold you any longer. Have a wonderful week and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Thanks for reading!

#LetsGrow


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Podcast transcription by Rev.com