Ask About... Retail, Hospitality & Leisure
21/06/2012 in Employment, Retail, Hospitality & Leisure
This month we ask Lisa Patmore
I am the manager of a hotel with a couple of housekeeping staff. One of the housekeepers has repeatedly complained of back problems. The housekeeper is now demanding to be transferred to a different role. I do have a reception position available but I don’t want to give the housekeeper this position as I don’t think she is suitable for it. What can I do?
A - You don’t have to give her the job but you should take action regarding the back problems
B - Give her the reception job, the housekeeper is entitled to change roles if she wants to
C - You are not required to give her the reception job and you don’t need to do anything
D - You don’t have to give her the job and if she keeps moaning about her back you should replace her
The correct answer is A.
You have a prerogative as to how you manage your business. Your staff can’t demand to be given different jobs to what they are employed to do. However, if the reception position is publically advertised, there is no reason the housekeeper could not apply for this job like anyone else.
If the housekeeper does apply for the role, you would need to ensure you treat her application the same as you would anyone else. It is worth checking if your business has any policies on internal transfers or staff applying for alternative roles within the business. You should ensure you act in accordance with such a policy if it is appropriate to do so.
As an employer, you do have certain health and safety duties towards all your employees. As you are aware that the employee has an issue with her back, you should take reasonable steps to deal with this. It is likely that you have already carried out a risk assessment of the work place and provided necessary training to your housekeepers on aspects of their role such as heavy lifting. However, you might now consider getting an occupational health report so that you better understand your duty towards this particular employee.
If the back problem is a long term issue, the housekeeper may be considered to be disabled within the meaning of the disability discrimination legislation. If this is the case, you may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for her. Regardless as to whether the housekeeper’s back renders her disabled, there are reasonable steps you should take to reduce her back pain such as changing her duties to avoid tasks which particularly aggravate her back. The occupational health report would assist you with this. However, even if the housekeeper is ‘disabled’ there is no automatic right for her to be given the reception job.
For further information please contact a member of our employment team.