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HR Insights 
 
Welcome to our HR Insights page; here we will post our regular blog, providing an insight into the world of HR ~ whether on a general matter or something more specific that is going on in the news. Please feel free to leave us your comments... 

Will all the hype surrounding Chelsea Football Club at the moment, this week we thought we would take a look at 'The Ugly Side of the 'Beautiful Game''... 
Image ~ www.Derbyjfl.com 
Most people who know me well, will know that I am not a fan at all of football; to me it is a game full of overpaid egos and ‘wannabee’ actors ~ the drama with which a footballer dives to the floor when an opponent gets within two feet of them is worthy of a role in Crossroads (yes; I do remember that far back!!)… 
 
However, the last couple of weeks have provided a different kind of drama that has piqued my interest… Principally, when people talk about the sport they are focused on the 90-minutes of football that takes place on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon or they are talking about the ridiculously large salaries paid to footballers, which in fact could go a long way to clearing the national debt!! What is largely forgotten is that a football club is just another employer and beyond those 11 players on the pitch, is a whole workforce fulfilling a range of roles critical to the success… or failure of a football club. 
 
Although the attitude and behaviour of those at the forefront of the game may appear to suggest otherwise, they are bound by the same employment legislation and best practice when dealing with staff as every other employer in the Country. 
 
By now; most of you will probably have guessed that I am referring to the pitch-side incident and aftermath between Jose Mourinho and Eva Carneiro. Whilst most of the headlines surrounding this incident have long since been consigned to chip shop wrapping paper; I suspect the HR issues highlighted by this incident may well rumble on for some time… 
 
The first element to consider is that of ‘bullying’. Bullying, which can be generally defined as; ‘threatening, abusive, intimidating, undermining or insulting behaviour that may be an abuse of power, position or knowledge which leads to other people becoming stressed, demotivated or frightened...’. In a normal work environment, reprimanding or shouting at an individual in a public place or in front of their peers can often be indicative of behaviour which is bullying; so the fact this incident took place in front of the players, thousands of fans and worldwide television cameras could only serve to magnify any feelings of being bullied. 
 
Sadly of course, this behaviour is not unique to Mourinho in the footballing world; Managers are often seen on pitchside screaming and shouting at their players, other Managers and the match officials. Most footballing fans can still probably recall the Boxing Day match a few years ago when Phil Brown, then Manager at Hull City was so unhappy with his team’s first-half performance that he forced them to take their half-time break in humiliating fashion, sitting round in a circle on the pitch like naughty school-children! 
 
So whilst this behaviour appears to be the norm in football; should those working within that environment be forced to put up with it??? 
 
If we then think about what happened next; Eva Carneiro and a second medic who had been involved in the incident, were then very publicly ‘demoted’ from their roles and were not ‘permitted’ by Mourinho to take their places on the bench at the next match.  
From what I have seen and read of this, no actual dismissal has (yet) taken place ~ which in any case, if it had, would have been an 'unfair dismissal' as no formal process has been conducted. 
 
However, the act of publicly demoting senior members of the medical team, for essentially doing their jobs, is an act which could conceivably be a breach of ‘mutual trust and confidence’, which fundamentally destroys the employment relationship and leaves Carneiro and her colleague with substantial grounds to bring a ‘constructive dismissal’ claim. 
Image ~ Personneltoday.com 
In real terms, constructive dismissal claims are not that easy for employees to bring. To do so, the employee first has to resign from their position in response to the conduct of the employer, which they deem to be sufficiently bad enough to warrant this. Secondly, they have to show that the behaviour and/or actions of the employer is a fundamental breach of an express or implied term of the contract of employment. A breach of an express term may be the employer’s failure to pay the employee their agreed salary on the designated date, whilst a breach of an implied term is usually connected with the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. 
 
In this case; the extent of the media coverage of the incident is likely to provide Carneiro with sufficient evidence to prove her case… 
 
Finally, what is also highlighted by this case is the duty of care owed to all employees under the Health & Safety at Work Act and whether this has been breached in this incident by Mourinho. Whilst there are many, many ‘faux’ dives taken by footballers during a game to try to achieve free kicks and penalties, on this particular occasion, I would have to concede that there was actual contact between the Chelsea player concerned and the other player. Given the recent number of high profile cases of sports people sustaining serious injuries on the field of play; for Mourinho to try to prevent his medical team from carrying out a proper assessment of the player’s fitness to continue in the match, particularly on the grounds that they were already a player down because of a red card, was a potential breach of his duty of care and could have had dire consequences if the player had received an injury which was then exacerbated by him continuing to play. 
 
All in all, a catalogue of bad employment practice and whilst the Medical Chief of FIFA has backed the actions of Carneiro on this occasion, it seems unlikely that the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ will admit to being wrong and acting unreasonably towards his staff… 
 
Whether we will get to see the final outcome in this particular ‘game’ is uncertain; if it were to go to an Employment Tribunal then the outcome would obviously become public record. However, my own personal view and gut feeling on this is that somewhere in West London, a deal is currently being struck to resolve this situation without recourse to a Tribunal and with stringent ‘gagging’ clauses attached… 
 
These are just our thoughts; you may or may not agree with them, but what would life be like if there was no debate or discussion into these issues??? 
Check out our previous blog posts here... 
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