HR Case Confidential – How should you deal with the behaviour of staff that has a negative impact on the nursery setting and prompts a parent to request a change in key worker?

Croner’s team of HR advice line experts have shared a recent case with us:

The background

A nursery owner recently contacted the helpline to discuss the behaviour of a member of staff. Joey was a room leader at the nursery; he completed his child care qualifications at the setting and had worked there for 12 years.

Over the past few months Joey’s behaviour had become increasingly unacceptable. He had begun to shout at colleagues, slam doors and make negative comments about nursery management throughout the day. Fortunately this always took place in staff areas, which was away from the nursery children, but occasionally overheard by parents. The behaviour became progressively worse, but the nursery owner only decided to take action after a parent requested that Joey no longer act as her son’s key worker after overhearing an outburst.

The owner, Trisha, called Croner’s employment helpline for advice. Trisha wanted to dismiss Joey immediately as she was so concerned about the parents’ reaction. However, she was advised that the parent’s request to move their son to another key person was unlikely to justify an allegation of gross misconduct alone, nor third party pressure to be able to dismiss Joey.

Croner’s consultant suggested that this incident, along with the other behavioural issues needed to be discussed with Joey.



With Croner’s support, Trisha held an investigation meeting with Joey to establish the facts. She began to go through the issues they had noticed with regards to his conduct at work. As the discussion progressed, Joey began to cry. He explained that six months previously his father had been diagnosed with a life threatening illness which he was still undergoing treatment for, and more recently his relationship with his partner had broken down.

He told Trisha that he was aware he had become less friendly, but was not aware of the extent of his behaviour. He thought that he had tried to keep his personal life away from the nursery children and staff, so he didn’t inform anyone of the issues he had been experiencing.

He apologised for making negative comments that had been overheard by parents, and outlined this was partly because he believed that the nursery could be performing better with a number of small changes and that he found this frustrating. He had requested meetings to talk about some improvements to the organisation, but had not been able to diarise time for himself, the manager and the owner to discuss his thoughts and ideas.

Following the meeting, Trisha decided that she did not want to take any formal disciplinary action against Joey. However she did tell him that his conduct at work needed to improve, and would be monitored.


The outcome

A few weeks later, Trisha contacted the helpline again to update the consultant who had been dealing with the case. They had changed the staff rotas to allow team meetings to take place once a fortnight. This allowed staff to put forward their opinions, comments and suggestions. In addition, Trisha had had a number of one to one meetings with Joey to offer support for his personal circumstances. A number of the changes Joey had suggested had been put in to place, and seemed to have had positive effects so far. Everyone reported that Joey had a much more positive  attitude, and that although he had snapped at a new staff member on a couple of occasions, he had calmed himself down very quickly, and immediately apologised to everyone involved. These instances were becoming less frequent, and everyone believed Joey was generally more pleasant to work with.

Don’t forget all dot2dot customers have access to Croner’s team of employment law experts through their Helpline and we recommend that they are contacted for advice at all stages of an employment matter using helpline number 0844 561 8111. For further information, please call one of the dot2dot team on 01204 570390

jackie hyde