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HoriVen Industries was established in the 1930s as a high precision engineering manufacturer. It has
grown on the basis of high quality and technological innovation. Today it employs over 20,000 people
with operations in 70 countries, manufacturing its own patented medical equipment and technologies
used in hospitals around the world. In Kenya HoriVen employ 2,000 people at a state-of-the-art facility in
the EPZ. The facility is a global centre of excellence with 200 professional staff employed in the research
and development of new medical technologies that assist with sight and hearing procedures. Another
1500 staff are employed in manufacturing and assembly operations. The remaining 300 employees work
in various support and clerical roles. Manufacturing workers are represented by the trade union UNITE,
while other staff are non-unionised at the Kenya facility. HoriVen Industries has emerged from the global
financial crisis in a relatively healthy position. Demand for its products is strong and new products
manufactured by the company have been at the forefront of some of the latest non-invasive medical
procedures. The competitive standing has also been strengthened because of a year-long lean
management programme that has been introduced across HoriVen Industries. This has significantly
reduced waste during the production process, improved manufacturing productivity while eliminating
defects in support of total quality. As a result the Kenya facility was ranked third of all HoriVen plants
owing to the lean manufacturing improvements, something the site manager is extremely pleased with
and proud about. However, the Kenya site was ranked as very poor in some areas, and demanding
targets for immediate improvement have been set by head office. The main areas of concern include:
The cost of absenteeism has been identified as excessive at the Kenya facility, especially among
manufacturing operatives and research and development staff. Absence rates for these staff groups
are currently around 10 percent above the industry average.
The review also identified a number of distinct absence patterns. For example, small groups of
operatives have been on long-term sick leave of between three and six months.
Another pattern seems to be short absence on regular intervals, such as night shift workers being
absent on Friday nights, or day operatives absent when schedule to work on a Saturday.
Many of the employees who were absent for long periods were not subject to sanction on their
return to work. There were a number of reasons cited for this. For example: the period of absence
ran into a new performance review period; the employee returned to a new supervisor who was
unfamiliar with their details; supervisors were unsure about how to follow the agreed disciplinary
route for longer periods of absence.
Absent employees continued to accrue their annual leave. Once they returned to work they had a
large holiday balance which they could subsequently take.
The trade union has expressed its concern to management that any stern or aggressive response to
employees who are genuinely ill may be counter- productive and lead to undue pressure and
stress. It may also be in breach of the negotiated agreement on sick leave. As the HR Manager you
have been asked to prepare a report to address the primary issues of concern and produce a plan to
help achieve improvements demanded by head office. The plant manager has also asked you to
specifically use your knowledge and understanding of contemporary research evidence and
organisational practice in evaluating the broader employee relations issues and implications for
the Kenya HoriVen facility by including the following:

1. A short analysis of the situation and why it is a potentially important employee relations problem.
2. Possible solutions to the problems analysed.
3. A justified recommendation that will address the main problem. 4. How implementation barriers
may be overcome.