A lot of employees have a basic misunderstanding of the human resources department. They are not sure when to speak to HR about their concerns. Some believe that HR’s involvement ends when a new hire starts work, while others believe that the department is there to solve petty squabbles between coworkers. The truth actually lies in the middle. For current employees, HR can help navigate situations that involve legal and sometimes ethical concerns. Here are a few situations that should always go to HR.
When to Speak to HR? When Harassment is involved.
Harassment based on disability, religion, age (over 40), race, sex, national origin, or other protected class is illegal, as is sexual harassment of anyone. HR staff members are trained to carefully handle these situations in a legal manner, so they’re typically a better option than your boss. Be sure to state upfront that you are making a formal harassment complaint.
Discrimination against those in a protected class is also illegal, but it’s important to note that an act is only discrimination if it’s performed *because* you are a member of a particular protected class. These nuances are complex, and HR is the department most likely to understand all the nuances and how to proceed.
Whether you’re confused about a company benefit such as vacation time, or you’re unsure what legal rights you have under the Americans with Disabilities Act, HR is the department that can get you answers.
When to Speak to HR About Your Boss
It’s not up to the human resources department to make sure your boss is treating you fairly. But extreme situations such as illegal activity, open abuse, or refusing to allow employees to use their benefits could call for HR intervention. Tread lightly, though, especially if you don’t have rock solid documentation.Some HR departments will guide employees through tricky situations, while others will report back to your boss.
It’s best to get to know your company’s HR department before you actually need anything from them. That way, if a situation arises that may be appropriate to bring to their attention, you will already know where to go and who the right person to talk to is.
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