Are you a manager without knowing it?

Employment law

I was recently delivering a management training course. The topic of the course was managers’ rights and obligations as representatives of the employer.

The company had invited everyone in a managerial position to attend the course. However, the course had a surprising start: the majority of the people there felt that they were not actually mangers. We therefore started the course by discussing what is the definition of a manager.

Existing legislation does not provide a definition of a manager. However, by interpreting case law, legal literature and legislation it can be summarised that a manger is a person in a company who has people reporting to them and who has the right to direct the work of those reporting to them. Under this right to direct, a manager can give his team tasks, determine how work should be carried out and give instructions on this, as well as set and monitor goals.

A managerial position is associated with a large pile of responsibilities. A manager is also responsible for the suitability of the workload, ensuring that there are enough people to complete the work at hand. In addition, as a representative of the employer, a manager has a duty to intervene in and solve any grievances relating to his team’s work, wellbeing, and working environment. Good management increases staff wellbeing and thus the productivity of the company.

Each person working in a managerial position should know the rights and responsibilities of the position. Failure to meet obligations (e.g., safety failures) may result in serious financial losses for the employer as well as negative publicity. At worst, the company may be fined and the manager (alone or along with other management) may receive a personal fine or a prison sentence. Not knowing what the legal obligations are does not mitigate the penalties.

After we discussed the role of a manger, we concluded unanimously that despite not knowing this initially, everyone present was indeed a manager.

It is in the interest of every company that their managers recognise their special role in carrying out the company’s obligations. I hope you are not a manger without knowing it.