Advice

Could HR solve...? Luther

24 Jan 2019 By PM Editorial

A freelance worker with a murky past is clouding a star employee’s judgement

The problem

Maverick detective John Luther has a long history of disregarding authority and flouting the rule book in pursuit of justice. But his relationship with narcissistic scientist Alice Morgan is particularly troubling: despite suspecting her of killing her own parents, Luther comes to rely on her to carry out freelance investigations and fails to report her when he witnesses her killing a suspect.

The solution

In the age of the contingent workforce, outsourcing certain tasks to external parties isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says HR consultant Shakil Butt. But for a police officer, it raises a clear safeguarding issue: “Working with someone that Luther knows to have committed criminal acts, even if not charged with a crime, could be a step too far and is likely to warrant an internal investigation.”

The pair’s relationship has clearly gone beyond the professional, even if they are not presently romantically involved. Again, this needn’t be a red line, says Butt, but it’s clear it has impacted Luther’s decision-making.

But before the Met’s HR department goes charging in, it may have questions to answer about its handling of its employee, adds Butt. “Following the death of his wife, Luther clearly had unresolved issues and possibly mental health challenges that HR could have supported him with.”

There is no evidence of a return-to-work interview after his bereavement, and the organisation appears not to have intervened as the detective’s workload spiralled out of control. Should he be disciplined, he could have a valid counterclaim against his employer.

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