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.

The Hard Shoulder has never been afraid to ruffle a few feathers – and Ivan’s take on one of last week’s listener queries has lit up the Agony Uncle inbox over recent days.

It comes after regular listener Harry asked if he should consider suing his employer over a recent workplace accident - despite the fact they treated him well and paid all his medical bills.

Ivan’s take that “the insurance will cover it” provided the claim is a bona fide one prompted one furious listener to warn that "businesses and jobs are being put at risk by spurious claims such as these.”

Bobby began by reminding his host that bogus claims can pose a real threat to struggling businesses.

“His brother suggested a spurious claim and - I don't think you meant to agree with him - but really, de-facto, you kind of did,” he says.

"I just think there is a really, really bad claims atmosphere out there and if you get a claim as an employer, you can basically just add it on to your next year's premium."

For his part, Ivan agrees that there are a lot of public liability claims out there that are "clearly fraudulent" but insisted that this particular case is "very simple."

"The guy either has medical damage; a disability to his knee, or he doesn't," he says.

"If he does, he has got a valid claim and if he doesn't, he doesn't."

I have been offered a better job on more money but the new employer says I must start next week and I have a two week notice period in my current job. Should I stay or should I go?

"I don't like the sound of James' new employer personally," says Bobby.

"I think if his proposed employer is saying, 'why don't you just walk out on your old employer,' I don't like the sound of him and I would not be going to work for him.

"I think you should always work your notice. Particularly in this situation where it is a very reasonable notice."

Bobby I'm doing more work and getting more success for my job in the bank. Should I get another job lined up before I go to the boss for a pay rise? At least I can walk if the rise isn't forthcoming? 

"I personally think that to go and go through all the trouble of getting an interview and getting another job if you have no intention of leaving is a waste of your own time and a waste of the new employers time," says Bobby.

"I think to go and sell yourself to another employer, accept the job and then go back and negotiate your pay rise is a little disingenuous.

"I just think it is a bit extreme and it is a waste of time if you are not going through with it - because clearly, reading between the lines, I would say that you don't want to leave.

Hi Bobby, I have a very strong concept for a coffee shop/cafe brand and I am looking to see if it is doable and profitable with the amount of competition at the minute and the rising rents and rates in Dublin city centre. Any recommendations for researching further and personally would you enter that industry again? From Ted

"Like all good businesses, it is a tough business," says Bobby.

"It is an extremely competitive business and I would be asking Ted, what is going to make his coffee shop different to the ones that are there at the moment?

"What has he got that is going to have people coming back? what is he going to trade on?"

"When I opened up my first shop in 1998, I went to the UK, I went to the States, I went to Italy and I just saw what was there and saw what they were doing.

"If he can, he should even work part-time in a coffee shop.

"You will always learn something in another market that you can put your own slant on and bring it back here."

I was hired as the Operations Manager for a new and expanding food retail company. I was hired by the owner/director of the company on a permanent, full-time basis. My contract has a 6 month probation period.

I soon realised that there were no processes in place and most staff (over 70) had not even signed employment contracts.

To make a long story short, I was given a big project by the company. This all took me just over 5 months to complete. The business was now compliant with legislation and all systems are in place.

I then was called into a meeting with the director and he explained to me that he wants to remove the "Operations" layer in the business. He then proceeded to end my probation period 2 weeks before the 6 months date.

It seems to me this was his intention all the way. He even went on to compliment me on the good work I had done. 

Do I have any legal standing in this?

"This is an horrific scenario and I really feel for this chap. The first thing is - and I don't give legal advice here - it appears that the six-month probation clause is the catch-all here.

"One thing I would say is that if 70% of the people operating in this company are operating in there without a contract; I would suggest that he might be able to get back at them on another angle.

"I don't think he will be able to on the probation bit.

"It looks like he has been had. it looks like the employment was disingenuous. It looks like they have milked him dry.

"I think he should get some legal advice and ask some legal person to go through the contract, he will probably find he has them on some other matter but not on the probation.

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

Back to top