SME Agony Uncle: Bobby Kerr answers all your business and work-related questions


Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins The Hard Shoulder to answer all your employment-related questions.

This week, Bobby and Ivan kicked things off by discussing gardening leave whereby employees leaving a company are given a type of cooling off period between the jobs and remain paid by their employers. 

While it's not something that happens regularly, it typically happens when people are leaving one company to join a competitor or a company with a conflict of interest and the idea is it prevents the employee from having further influence on their organisation and from accessing potentially confidential information. 

One recent example that was public was the case of a Central Bank employee who earned €122K while on gardening leave for four months before going into a new role in the private sector. 

Bobby's main piece of advice for employers who might be considering gardening leave is that they are legally obliged to continue to pay the person the same amount they would have had the potential to earn while in employment, as well as access to any other perks, like health insurance, company car, etc. 

Now onto your questions... 

My son is two years into his medicine degree and hates it. He says he wants to drop out and  start his own business to develop a golf app. I think this sounds nuts but what can I do?

Bobby says this is a real dilemma for the parent. Looking at whether the golf app idea is something he really believes in or if it is simply a symptom of his dislike for his college course might be a good place to start. But Bobby does say he believes if someone isn't cut out for medicine or simply isn't passionate about it that it's not a career they should continue to pursue as they'll eventually leave anyway. 

Another option if he is certain about dropping out of medicine would be to discuss the possibility of him doing another course instead. And then if the golf app is still on his mind after that course, he could pursue it further.  

There is a guy in my office who does not dress for success. Officially, our dress code is smart casual but this guy wears t-shirts and shorts. Management haven’t said anything to him so it looks like it is one rule for him and a different rule for the rest.  

Bobby says it is good that there is a policy in place to begin with but in this case, it doesn't seem to be being enforced so it might be time that this person speaks to their manager about possibly redefining the policy if there is going to be a tolerance for dressing more casually.  

Myself and my wife are both accountants and operate a small local practice that has been quite successful. At the moment, it employs myself, my wife and three other staff. Recently, we have been arguing about the future of the business. I want to expand and grow the business but my wife is happy with it as it is and want to keep it small. We had a fight last week in front of a client and we haven’t spoken since. For the sake of the business and our marriage, what should we do?

Bobby says that while it might be difficult if things have gotten this far, they should not row in front of clients. If Bobby was faced with the choice of losing his marriage or his business, he’d lose the business, he says. So in this case, the solution is more than likely going to be that one person stays in the business and the other steps aside for the sake of saving their fifteen-year marriage. 

I am thinking of throwing a staff barbecue soon because of some recent success. I think it would be more fun than the dreaded Christmas party - what do you think?  

Bobby says he thinks this is a great idea - especially with the weather we have been enjoying recently.  Staff barbecues are also relatively low cost in comparison to more formal Christmas parties and they are also a chance to invite your staff's families along too.  

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s The Hard Shoulder here:

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to [email protected]

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