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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48167
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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In April 2015 I was put under duress to resign from my professional

Customer Question

In April 2015 I was put under duress to resign from my professional post and take junior post (I had been at a professional grade performing very well for 13 years). Duress included presenting me with pre-written resignation letter typed up as if I had written it including my name typed at the bottom. I was told if I didn't sign I would be put on performance management and capability procedures which would result in me having no job at all. (I had no performance problems - exemplary service for 13 years)
Since then I have been in junior role 3 grades lower than I have ever been, and I am being bullied and targeted by 2 managers.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello what would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am desperate to get my professional job back. Through being demoted to the junior role against my will (by being forced to resign) I have suffered significant damage financially (income and pension), professionally and in terms of my health.When I signed I was under duress and had also not been sleeping properly for 3 months - which my employer knew about.As I was put under duress to sign, does this, for example, make the contract voidable and hence invalid? Can I get my professional job back?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When will you be able to answer this? Many thanks
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, I experienced some temporary connection issues and could not get back on the site until now. All appears to be resolved now so I can continue dealing with your query. What you experienced is likely to amount to constructive dismissal, which is where the employer’s breach of contract forces you to resign. The issue here is that you did not resign from the employment but from the post so you continued working for them – this is not a resignation from the employment. Also you did this a year ago – a claim for constructive dismissal must be made without unreasonable delay and you must resign in response to the breach. So ideally, you would have been forced to drop grades, accepted that change and immediately resigned from this employer in response to that request, pursuing a constructive dismissal claim in turn. The fact that you have left it for a year may mean that you have accepted the situation as it is and any resignation now is unlikely to be viewed as being in response to the employer’s breach because the delay may remove the link between the two. In the circumstances you should initially pursue this matter internally via the formal grievance procedure. If that does not resolve things, then your only option is still to resign from this employer and pursue the constructive dismissal claim. Whilst I do think there are factors which will reduce your prospects of success, as discussed above, it does not mean it is impossible to pursue and you also have ACAS on your side for negotiations, something which you have to do anyway before you claim. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the ACAS option and how to take the matter further from here, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks - I have submitted rating of 4, hope that is ok.As soon as I handed over the resignation form I immediately knew it was a mistake and implored the manager to give it back to me but he refused to do so and locked it away. Within less than 2 days I followed this up with an email again saying I did not want to resign from my professional post. Should I have been given the '2 day cooling off period' as I resigned under stress and in the heat of the moment?Also at the same time as signing the resignation I also signed the new contract for the lower grade role - also under duress. Does this make the contract invalid/void/voidable because I signed under duress?7 weeks ago I took 4 days off with stress and they then medically suspended me - they have never stated in writing on what grounds - is this illegal? Just before that I had submitted a grievance to HR (regarding the issue above) but they told me not to pursue it as I was suspended - is this illegal? (I am still on medical suspension and have not continued with the grievance as yet)
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. The cooling off issue and the duress is still something that would have been challengeable at the time and if not dealt with correctly, given rise to constructive dismissal. Whilst you may be too late to pursue that in relation to the change in job a year ago, there may be more recent events, such as the suspension and the refusal to hear a grievance whilst on suspension which may give rise to new breaches which you can rely on to resign. So as mentioned first try the grievance. If that does not work, an alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you. If you feel you have to resign, a new feature in the employment tribunal’s claims process is mandatory early conciliation with ACAS. This requires prospective claimants to notify ACAS and provide details of their intended claim and they would then try to negotiate between the claimant and respondent to seek out of court settlement in order to avoid having to take the claim to the tribunal. It is possible for the parties to refuse to engage in these negotiations, or that they are unsuccessful, in which case they would get permission to proceed with making the claim in the tribunal. If negotiations are initiated and settlement is reached, then the claimant would agree not to proceed with the claim in return for the agreed financial settlement. The conciliation procedure and the form to fill in can be found here: https://ec.acas.org.uk/Submission/SingleClaimantPage In terms of the time limits within which a claim must be presented, the early conciliation process places a ‘stop’ on that and the time between notifying ACAS and them issuing permission to proceed with the claim would not count for the purposes of these time limits (3 months from termination in your case).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks. What sort of amounts could a settlement be? A couple of months ago they offered redundancy from former senior role which would be £42k after tax. Could a settlement be more than this? If they offered me £100k or more I'd settle!!I really do want to have my senior role back as any sort of settlement would not cover the loss in terms of future salary and pension. Also my profession is dieing out (Librarian) and getting another job in this area is proving impossible. Do you think there is any chance they would give me job back? When the union has asked them for this they have said 'there is no job still available' as they gave most of the hours to someone else when I was orced to resign. If their only reason is 'there is no job still available' would it be reasonable to ask them to reinstate me to the former *grade/salary* even if not the actual job role.I have spoken to a solicitor on the phone who says because they have blocked the grievance she could write a 'without prejudice' letter asking for my senior job back. Is it ok to do it this way round? (i.e. 'without prejudice letter' and any follow up before grievance). She says the employer has got things very very wrong and breached disability discrimination law, carers rights, working time directive, illegal deduction of wages, harassment and bullying...
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
A settlement can be anything you and the employer agree on. If you were to make a claim for constructive dismissal, then the maximum amount you can recover is just under £79,000 and that is assuming you have a strong claim and can show justification to claim all of that. So you are unlikely to get them to settle for £100k if they will have lesser liability by going to tribunal. They could certainly give you your job back but they cannot be forced to do that so really it depends on them. They may simply not want you there so they will do whatever they have to ensure you do not return and that means you cannot go back there, regardless of what you do. What the solicitor has suggested is certainly a possibility, I suppose the worst that could happen is they say no, then you consider your other options.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks.If their only reason is 'there is no job still available' would it be reasonable to ask them to reinstate me to the former *grade/salary* even if not the actual job role?What is the maximum claim for personal injury? Or disability discrimination?Does it matter that I was an exemplary employee on the senior role for 13 years? - does this hold any sway?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
You may certainly ask them to reinstate you to the old job but as mentioned this is entirely down to them, no one can force them to do that. But then again you have nothing to lose by asking. The fact you were in the job previously does not make any difference legally. There is no cap on discrimination compensation, whereas personal injury compensation depends entirely on the injuries suffered. I understand that the solicitor has told you that you have all these claims but realistically that may not be the case as there are a lot of hoops to go through to succeed in many of these. I would be happy to discuss the options in disability discrimination if needed, you can post a separate query for my attention and I can take it fro there. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks. Please can u tell me the options in disability discrimination. If I post a separate query will this cost me extra money? I am sorry but I can't afford any more :(
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
No worries, I will have to provide a partly templated answer which the general laws if I keep it in this question but hopefully that will answer some of your queries. Basically to be able to make a claim under disability discrimination laws you first have to show that you were disabled and then to show that you were treated detrimentally s a result f that disability. In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’. The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. I will break this definition down:Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.) If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. In addition, their employer would have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if they are likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage when compared to non-disabled employees. What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances. Below are some examples:making adjustments to work premises;allocating some of the employee’s duties to others;transferring the employee to fill an existing suitable vacancy;altering the employee’s hours of work;allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment connected to their disability;acquiring or modifying specialist equipment;providing supervision or other support. If someone who is disabled is being treated unfavourably because of their disability or their employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments it would potentially amount to disability discrimination. The first step would be to raise a formal grievance. The next step would be to consider whether a claim for disability discrimination should be made in an employment tribunal (the time limit for claiming is only 3 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory act taking place). So you do not need to resign to make such a claim but you still have to go through ACAS to initiate the early conciliation process to try and settle first.