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Answered: Can you raise your pre-reg's scruffy appearance with him?

personal grooming and hygiene
Are you allowed to broach personal grooming and hygiene with your staff?

Did you have enough HR knowledge to correctly answer this workplace dilemma?

Your pre-registration pharmacist is a lovely, bright young man, and a good employee. But he takes no care of his appearance and has a hygiene problem.

You have no problems with his performance at work, but you don't know whether you should broach his hygiene with him, given this is a personal issue?

How did C+D readers vote?

Result

Are you allowed to broach the subject of your pre-reg's personal hygiene?
Yes
96%
No
4%
Total votes: 74

Answer

There is no law or rule against raising the issue of an employee’s poor personal hygiene, and if it is a problem for your colleagues, it sounds like you may be justified if you did so.

The General Pharmaceutical Council standards for pharmacy professionals require pharmacists and technicians to “behave in a professional manner”. Being dishevelled and smelly arguably does not meet this criterion, and you could argue that your pre-reg is falling short of this standard expected of pharmacy professionals.

However, you should handle this matter with care.

Telling someone their appearance is unacceptable at work is likely to come as a shock, and could seriously knock your pre-reg's confidence and happiness in his job. Aside from hurting his feelings, it also risks negatively affecting his performance.

The other issue to be careful to avoid is appearing to persecute or bully him. Professional and personal appearance is very subjective, and you could create a problem if he feels unfairly targeted. If that happens he could leave – and then sue you for constructive dismissal, citing bullying behaviour.

If it gets to that stage, and he wins a case at an employment tribunal, awards in bullying cases can run into tens of thousands of pounds.

The best advice is therefore to keep your chat with your pre-reg discreet and informal. Unless this is a performance issue that is affecting his ability to uphold the standards expected of his role, or is having an impact on your business, all you can do is have a friendly word – and hope the message gets through.

This HR dilemma was originally posted on the Accord Academy website, part of Accord Healthcare Ltd

For adverse event and privacy policy click here. Adverse events* should be reported. Adverse events should be reported. Reporting forms and information can be found at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard

Adverse events should also be reported to Accord on 01271 385257.

* "Patient safety is Accord's primary concern and we encourage healthcare professionals and patients to report any adverse event which may occur in relation to an Accord product. An adverse event includes reports of any side effect, product misuse, abuse or overdose, including inappropriate use by children or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. It also includes reports of a product that was used for something other than the intended purpose or was ineffective, or was given with another medicine. Complaints relating to the product can also be reported."

5 Comments
Question: 
How would you deal with this HR dilemma?

Anne Cole, Hospital pharmacist

This question would have been better if you hadn't specified the gender of the pre-registration pharmacist. It would be interesting to know if people would respond in the same way if the pre-registration pharmacist was female... (unconscious bias and all that)....

Lilian Anekwe, Editorial

It's an interesting point, and a suggestion we may well use in future.

Lilian Anekwe

Deputy editor, C+D

Benjamin Leon D'Montigny, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Certainly. It should be dealt with like performance management. The person should be set an expectation and a deadline to improve their hygiene standard. Failing to achieve this could then lead to disciplinary meetings. And of course, all your conversations should be recorded and signed by both parties.

Bob Dunkley, Locum pharmacist

He’d be pinned to the wall and told to sharpishup smartish or get another placement. There is no shortage of pharmacy graduates thanks to our wonderful universities churning them out. Poor grooming is no excuse. He is entering a profession, not training as a doss house keeper.

Paul Dishman, Student

I agree with Bob

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