Alison Burns runs a small hair and beauty salon called Inspirations. She owns four shops over a 22 mile area and her office is based above one of the shops.

Alison established her business in 2002 after working in the styling industry as a beautician and hairdresser for the first 20 years of her career. She was employed in a large company for most of that time. In

2002, she took the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy and used the redundancy payment to establish her business.

While Alison worked for the large company, she took on a line management role, responsible for twenty members of staff. This role required her to co-ordinate and monitor work allocated to staff and to

ensure that high standards of public service were maintained. She had a reputation as a fair but firm boss and had dismissed a particularly difficult staff member who had been bullying his colleagues. As a

manager, she sought to ensure that her staff enjoyed good working conditions and believed that pay was not the only motivator for employees.

In 2004, while running her first salon, Alison took on her first permanent employee, Sally Bishop, who worked both as a hair stylist and provided some company during the day. Alison and Sally developed a

good relationship and over time and together they generated enough business to open the other three salons. At around the same time, she recruited her next three full time stylists.

In January 2012, Alison took on her tenth employee, Simon Wilson as a trainee hair stylist. Simon was a 20 year old former student from a nearby further education college hairdressing course. In December

2012 she took on an eleventh employee, Maria Richards, a 35 year old who had previously worked for the same large company as Alison. Until taking the decision to employ Simon and Maria, Alison only

had positive things to say about her role as an employer, which she enjoyed. However, with Simon and Maria, things took a turn for the worse.

One day Alison arrived at the office to find Maria in tears. When she asked Maria what had happened, she explained that Simon had stormed into the salon and aggressively accused her of stealing his tips. In

addition, Maria stated that Simon and had called her ?useless?. During the tirade, Simon had been standing and Maria had been seated, which added to the intimidation. Alison was deeply concerned by this

but it accorded with other things she had heard from other salon staff about Simon?s attitude. In addition to this, he had a tendency to take a larger number of sick days than other staff and Alison became

concerned that this might lead to the other stylists perceiving that they too had a right to extra sickness absence.

Later that day, Alison received a call on her mobile from an upset customer who stated that she was distressed by the fact that Maria had done a poor job of her cut and colour. Alison was annoyed by this as it

was the fifth report from Maria?s dissatisfied customers she had received. She began compiling a file of evidence of Maria?s botched cuts.

Alison began to consider what to do about Simon and Maria. She had handled disciplinary investigations in her previous employment but on those occasions she had been supported by expert HR guidance.

Without this support, she was less confident about addressing the issues.

Despite these setbacks, Alison still views being an employer as a generally positive role and the issues with Maria and Simon made her appreciate her other stylists even more. She now wants to find a way to

encourage her longstanding employees to take more responsibility for running the shops, developing styles and products and expanding the business.

Alison is also concerned that she is paying a variety of different wages to her employees, depending on the level of experience that they had when they were recruited. She makes a point of paying at least 50p

an hour more than the minimum wage but doesn?t offer any other incentives. She wonders whether her informal approach to employment relations may be harming her firm as it grows and looks to recruit more



1. Alison concludes that Simon and Maria?s continued presence is damaging her business. She calls you to discuss the best way to proceed with dismissals and what she must do to ensure that such dismissals

do not lead to claims of unfair dismissal in each case. Provide this advice with reference to appropriate codes of practice and a recommendation for both Simon and Maria.

(40 marks: max 1000 words)

2. Alison then decides to design some HR policies for her company that will improve performance and reduce absence. Advise her on the key considerations of an absence management and a pay and reward

policy by outlining possible considerations of such policies. You should make reference to theory and practice in your answer and explain how these policies might achieve her ambition of both motivating staff

and ensuring that they are not taking unauthorised absences.

(60 marks: max 1500 words)

Briefing Notes

The answer to the first question will require you to demonstrate a sound understanding of correct procedures in relation to fair and unfair reasons for dismissal and provide ways to ensure that the dismissal in

each case is fair. You should be able to explain the role of the ACAS code of practice in the process and provide recommendations to Alison Burns.

The second question requires you to consider ideas that may inform the HR policies. You can use existing absence and pay and reward policies to help you but you should also consider academic sources that

examine the objectives of absence management and pay and reward and options for individual and team based contingent pay. You should consider the wider business context that might impact on the policy.

Projects should be submitted in report format and should be of approximate length 2500 words. Use 1.5 spacing.

The second term of lectures and seminars will be specifically geared to answering this question and will include additional support, briefing and guidance toward content and structure.

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