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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46793
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My daughter ewas suspended from her position as a teaching

Resolved Question:

My daughter ewas suspended from her position as a teaching assistant today for "innappropriate conduct" in the staff room (talking about tattoos and pole fitness classes) and being accused of having sex on the school premises with another member of staff (TOTALLY untrue)

She has been called to another meeting on wednesday and has been told she can have a colleague in with her.

Unfortunately she is not in the union and NASUWT say they cannot help her. ACAS say she has to wait until she has charges written down and citizens advise are not answering their phone.

we desperately need advise to support her in the meeting on Wednesday and don't know where to turn. Please advise. many thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has she worked there please?

Customer:

since last september

Ben Jones :

Are there no colleagues that she can ask to accompany her?

Customer:

she feels she does not want to compromise anyone by asking them to come along but she is trying to contact them at the moment

Ben Jones :

There is no easy solution to this I’m afraid. The law does allow her to be accompanied by a colleague or a TU rep, but if she is not in a union then not many unions would just allow her to join and provide representation straight away. She would need to be a member for a minimum period of time before she can rely on their help in this regard. So getting a union rep to come with her looks unlikely. So she will have to rely on her colleagues for support – I understand she may not wish to involve them but they are protected and can’t be treated detrimentally for acting as her companion. However, if she is unsuccessful with finding a colleague willing to assist, then she may have to attend alone. Whilst not ideal it is not the end of the world, because a companion would mainly be there for support rather than to formally represent her so their absence would not necessarily impact her position much.

Customer:

this allegation of sexual misconduct is obviously severe but is totally unfounded. Can she ask to know who has made the accusation?

Ben Jones :

She may but at the same time if the complaint was made anonimously the employer would have a duty to protect the accuser's privacy, although at the same time she needs to be given enough detail to be able to defend herslef.

Customer:

she has only been given 2 days to prepare a case - is this usual? She has nothing in writing. what should she prepare?

Ben Jones :

To be honest, and I think it is important she knows her position, her rights are rather limited in this situation. If she has been continuously employed at her place of work for less than 2 years then her employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, she will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that her employer can dismiss her for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because she was trying to assert any of her statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity leave, etc.). However, I do not see any evidence of this being the case so legally they can dismiss her just on a rumour, or even for no reason at all - she simply cannot challenge their decision due to not meeting the minimum criteria. So whilst they may not necessarily follow a fair procedure, that would not change anything - they can dismiss her on the spot if they really wanted to. So in this case she has been given 2 days to prepare and whilst that is the minimum I would usually advise to give someone, in her case she does not really have grounds to challenge this and whilst there is nothing stopping her from asking for more time, they do not have to accept it and could easily just proceed with whatever they had initially planned.

Customer:

so, in other words, there is nothing she can do?

Ben Jones :

that would be the case if she is considering challenging this formally, but in the meantime there is nothing stopping her from asking the employer directly. The 'nothing she can do' would only really apply if they go on to take a decision to dismiss her, regardless of hat procedure they followed.

Customer:

so, to clarify, she would not be able to go to ACAS to plead unfair dismissal? If the accusations prove to be unfounded will they be still "sacked" or will they be "asked to leave"? This obviously could have a HUGE impact on her employment prospects!

Ben Jones :

No she can't claim unfair dismissal, she simply does not meet the minimum requirements for making a claim. Whether the accusations are true or not she can be 'dismissed' either way - a dismissal is a dismissal whether for the reasons they claim or for having no reasons at all - what is important is what they say in a reference and they can't go into details of the allegations if they were not proven

Customer:

Thank you for your advice. All very depressing but important to know. thank you

Ben Jones :

You are welcome and I do understand but obviously I need to be honest and advise you on what the position you (and your daughter) face actually is

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46793
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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