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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 44327
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have resigned from my job and am in my notice period.

Customer Question

Hi. I have resigned from my job and am in my notice period. 6/7 weeks into serving-out my notice period my employer has decided to start a disciplinary action against me and has written 'inviting' me to an initial hearing in three weeks time (claiming that I may have shared confidential company information with 3rd parties including my next employer, which I know I have NOT done, along with accusations of some other technical company policy breaches).
Because of the stress of all of this I have been 'signed-off' work by my GP for this stress. My union rep suggested that this means I could have the initial hearing meeting date deferred because of this. Doing this would probably mean that the initial hearing could/would not happen before my notice period was finished anyway, and I had formally left the company.
I'm obviously very confused about this. Can and should I try to have the initial hearing meeting postponed as I'm signed-off work with stress? If the initial meeting can't happen before I've formally left anyway can my old employer still continue with an 'internal' hearing? If the date of this meeting is after I've left am I obliged to turn up to it anyway? (Plus any other advice you may have)... Thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Are you likely to be able to defend the allegations you are facing?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

In terms of "leaking information to 3rd parties" yes - I haven't. In terms of technically "breaching company policies" probably not - in practice they mean taking paperwork home to work on at home and I have done this (lots of people at work openly do this and it's a common practice amongst my colleagues.) I've already said that I can and will return any paperwork I still have at home.

The funny thing is that this seems to have been, in practice, "fine" for me any my colleagues to do for the whole 7 years I've worked there but suddenly comes up as a disciplinary half-way through my notice-period.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in a tribunal today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you this afternoon. There is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok, thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you regards Ben.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

(For when you're back).

I just wanted to be crystal clear for you about the sequence of events:

1. I got the offer of a new job

2. I resigned

3. Current employer accepted my resignation

4. Current employer provided reference to new employer

5. 6-7 weeks later current employer tells me they're starting disciplinary proceedings for "offences" (dated both before and after the date I resigned). A few days later I get their letter and paperwork about it including a date for an initial hearing

6. I 'stress' about this and see my GP. GP signs me off work. (I'm getting quite a few physical symptoms).

That's where I am now.

(As an aside, one of my worries is that my GP signing me off sick could be interpreted in some negative way - like an admission of guilt etc.)

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your patience. It is indeed correct that if you are signed off sick you could ask for the disciplinary to be postponed. In most situations this should be granted, unless there is evidence that the employee is not genuinely ill or there have been continuous requests for postponement and the delays are becoming unreasonable. Strictly speaking there is nothing stopping them from holding it in your absence but if they were to take a decision to dismiss for example then the fairness of such could be challenged by you and you could decide on whether to take the matter further, such as to tribunal.
So in the meantime, if you are signed off sick then you may indeed ask to have the disciplinary postponed. They should not hold it in your absence even if your employment terminates in the meantime. Once you have finished working for them they cannot really continue with this procedure, you are no longer employed by them and as such you are not required to attend any meetings or answer to them. So even though they can carry on investigating this internally they cannot make a decision against you and mention this to anyone in a reference.
However, if you have left pending a disciplinary they could mention that – they have to be truthful so they could state that you had left whilst a disciplinary investigation was ongoing. Some people may draw an inference from that but it is the truth so they can mention it.
The fact you are signed off cannot be taken as an admission of guilt on your part so don’t worry about it but they could question whether it is genuine as it coincides with the disciplinary process. But disciplinaries can be stressful so it is not uncommon to be signed off with stress.
In the meantime if you have any evidence to defend the allegations you may supply this to the employer and hope that they decide to drop this, especially if it becomes apparent you would no longer be around to formally answer these allegations.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks.This makes me think:

1. Would they be able to say "left pending a disciplinary" given that I resigned and had my resignation accepted (in writing) 4-5 weeks before they decided to start (and tell me about) the disciplinary procedure?

2. They already provided the new employer with a reference *before* announcing the disciplinary - could they write again to my new employer and say "oh, by the way, since we gave you that reference we've started a disciplinary action" or something like that?

3. For the initial hearing, is it better to provide them with a written statement defending against their claims or do it verbally in the meeting?

4. Who can I have at the hearing - is it really only a colleague or union rep? I've seen some solicitor's websites mentioning "exec representatives" for people who aren't able to have a union rep with them?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
1. Yes they can because that is factually correct
2. Yes they can as they have a duty not to mislead future employers so they can provide any updates as necessary
3. It is usually done verbally and the employer would take notes, but you can have something in writing to work from if needed
4. An exec rep is a trade union rep still, so it is the same thing - you can only take a trade union rep or colleague but the rep does not have to be one from a union you are a member of so this is where these exec reps come in, but is essentially the same thing
Hope this clarifies?
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 44327
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I'm going to get lawyered-up and see what happens!

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome and best of luck!

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