Get it right or get your wages cut…

I was talking to an HR friend of mine today. We were discussing a particular issue that I haven’t quite resolved yet.

Here’s the situation:

My friend has a client who employs about eight guys… and they’re driving him nuts. For example, there hasn’t been coffee in the office for a week but no-one has had the nounce to go buy some – there’s even a petty cash tin to buy it.

More seriously they have a big order to get out and it needs blue paper – lots of it – but someone has used it all and not re-ordered, so they’re up against it to get the order out in time.

But the thing that is causing most problem is this… his guys have to go out and install what they make and the boss always goes in behind to check the work. At a rough estimate the teams have to go back and correct their work nine times out of ten.

The boss is tearing his hair out (or he would if he had any) at the losses he’s incurring.

And before you ask: I already have. He’s trained his staff until he’s blue in the face, he’s warned them, disciplined them and done everything he can to get them to take responsibility for their work.

His latest scheme and the object of our discussion was his latest scheme for getting his team to do what they should be doing. He wants to calculate how much it costs to correct each job and dock the team’s pay by the same amount.

The discussion was quite simple: was it legal?

Well, the obvious answer is ‘no’ and certainly for this team who don’t have such a clause in their contract it would be very difficult to impose.

But, if a new member of staff joined and there was such a clause in their contract, what about then? Well, still ‘no’ actually. This time because if things went wrong only the new person would have their pay reduced and that’s just not fair.

But is the concept even a good one?

I’m just not sure. From a bosses point of view it sounds like an attractive proposition, to be able to simply pay people less if they are rubbish.

I think this one is going to run for a bit, so what do you think? Let me know and I’ll do some research and report back next week.

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