Employee relations, usually part of human resources, should serve as a neutral source of information and support for all employees whether they are in management or on the front line. Employee relations advisors must provide objective advice and guidance based on current laws governing the workplace. A company's employee relations department should be accessed for help with issues such as job training, employee support, mediation, and performance or misconduct complaints.
Employee relations can assist supervisors and managers in orienting and training new employees. Employee relations advisors often conduct presentations on employment law topics as well as safety information in some companies. Some employee relations professionals create and distribute company handbooks containing company policies in relation to official laws. Employee relations personnel employed in the government often spend time interpreting complex policies and governmental procedures to government employees.
Rather than permitting employees to resolve office conflicts themselves, which can cause disruption to other workers and escalate into loud heated exchanges, the employee relations department should mediate between the parties. Problem solving and conflict resolution strategies settle most workplace disputes. Violence or other behavior that threatens the safety of others in any way, may be immediate cause for dismissal and/or require intervention by law enforcement officials.
The employee relations department may recommend and administer ongoing employee counseling in some cases. Workplace discipline depends on whether actions are considered criminal or not, as well as the employee's past behaviors. Failure to attend recommended counseling sessions may result in suspension with or without pay, depending on area laws.
Managers considering dismissing an employee for any reason other than violence or other serious wilful misconduct should first contact employee relations. Most areas have laws that require adequate warnings or other actions on the part of the employer before an employee can be legally dismissed. Performance problems should be handled with employee relations advisers as early as possible so that the employee has a chance to correct unsatisfactory behaviors.