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Legal & Finance: 'Skivers' irritate fellow workers.

Work colleagues swinging the lead is one of the most de-motivating factors in the workplace, a Birmingham employment lawyer has claimed.

Nick Jew, head of employment law in the Birmingham office of law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, said that an Investors in People survey had highlighted a major source of dissatisfaction in UK workplaces.

Four out of five staff surveyed believed that their organisation was hindered by colleagues who failed to do their fair share of the work.

The survey also revealed that the majority of underperformance may be down to sheer laziness.

Mr Jew said: "This appears to be a damning criticism on management as well as poorly reflecting on the staff. There is nothing more de-motivating for an employee than seeing a poor-performing colleague getting away with it.

"To an extent it is understandable that managers are reluctant to deal with problems of this sort.

"There are so many employment laws governing UK workplaces today that many managers fear being accused of bullying or discrimination if they take steps to tackle poor performance.

"This may particularly be so as the trend over recent years has been to delegate performance and discipline issues to line managers, many of whom are ill-equipped and not trained to deal with those duties."

He said that managers required confidence and training.

Poor performance is a legitimate reason for issuing warnings to an employee and, ultimately, for dismissing them.

"The problem highlighted by this survey is one that employers simply cannot afford to ignore.

"As the UK comes under increasing pressure to reduce working hours, managers and employees will have to work smarter.

"Ultimately, these are issues of culture, recruitment and communication," he said.

Mr Jew stressed that when interpreting surveys such as this it was important to separate out issues of performance from those such as absence through illness and a raft of family-friendly working arrangements that now apply to UK employers
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 26, 2005
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