Ask a lawyer: How should companies deal with protection orders?

by Lauren Acurantes23 Nov 2016
It’s inevitable that some aspects of an employee’s personal life will spill over into the workplace, but what if these aspects are of the negative kind?

What can a company do if one of employee files a protection order against another employee for something that happened in their personal lives? 

The Protection from Harassment Act in Singapore, for example, can be filed against anyone who allegedly makes any alarming or inappropriate comments online.

One employment law expert said there are quite a few factors companies have to determine before they take any action.

“Various factors may impact the involvement of the company, such as if the issue happened at the workplace, the issue arose while performing their job function, it is in accordance with the company policy, and if it is required by an order from the Board/Management,” said Caroline Berube, managing partner at HJM Asia Law.

If the protection order has already been filed by one party, she suggests changing the scope and workplace of the involved parties.

She also said there are three things HR can do to help both parties in a more diplomatic way, such as:

1)    State that ideally the priority should be their work and not the personal issue which they should deal with in a mature manner;
2)    Request them to put aside the issue until it is resolved by the competent authority and continue meeting their work requirement;
3)    Try to lead them to settle the issue in an amicable way.

“However, if they fail to meet the company’s requirements for whatever reasons including polluting the work place and impacting performance, the company may consider to terminate them,” she added.

In terms of sending out a company-wide notification of the protection order filed by one employee, Berube said that all depends on the company’s policies.

“It will also depend on whether the order will affect the company’s daily operation and other employees performing their job as well as the requirement of the order,” she said.

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