Your HR Questions Answered

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Can we reduce our employees’ salaries?

Although most companies in our sector seem to be doing well, we have a lot of direct competitors and our sales have deteriorated badly in the last 12 months. The senior management team has taken a 20% cut in salary, and we have a senior sales manager who is paid a very high salary who refuses to do the same. Can we enforce a 20% pay reduction on his salary?

A: If the employee has a contract stating his salary and conditions, you are effectively breaching his legal entitlement. The best way to approach this is to consult with him, outline all the facts, and state that you are looking for him to work with you during this difficult phase which is hopefully short-term.

If he still refuses to co-operate, you could look at cutting out his sales commission/bonus, as this should not be part of his contract of employment, and may not be legally binding.

Make sure that you have looked at ALL the options, such as part-time working, offering career breaks, sabbaticals, offering flexible working, looking at your business pricing structures, your overheads. Your operational structure may also need to be reviewed to ensure that you have the best competencies and skills to deliver results in the business.

Q: We have received a couple of grievance complaints about employees being treated unfairly during the performance management process – they say that they are being given very negative feedback which is unfair and unjustified.

A: Giving feedback is vitally important, however too much negative feedback will only de-motivate any employee. If the employee needs to improve, they need to know the areas of improvement, but also have at least a couple of positive comments to keep them motivated. Constructive feedback is a major managerial skill that needs to be utilised carefully and effectively. Management development and training on performance management and motivation is essential.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.