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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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If I am meant to attend a meeting at work about alleged

Customer Question

If I am meant to attend a meeting at work about alleged misconduct by me, do I have a right under the Human Rights Act to not attend, if I have concerns about the meeting becoming intrusive into my personal life and perhaps even manipulative. From what I remember, Articl 8 of the Human Rights Act protects a persons privacy and home life, unless that is counteracted by another Article of the Act, and the means used for intrusion is reasonable. Yet I am getting what is on the ACAS site quoted at me. Which is the stronger, the Human Rights Act or ACAS?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Please can you tell me more about the circumstances that have led to the alleged misconduct? Please can you also tell me how long you have worked there. Thank you

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I mistakenly came into work smelling of BO though I did not realize it. I was sent home then a conduct meeting was called for a week or two later even though I had made checks improved and no further complaints had been made. I declined to attend based on me having nothing further to say and a perception that it could become a Human Rights issue if it became intrusive or manipulative in my private and home life, which I believe is protected by article 8 of the UK Human Rights Law. I have had the advice of ACAS, the Arbitration Service quoted in response by my employer. I am a Civil Servant and article 8 is a protection from intrusion by the State. Am I right in believing that the Human Rights Law takes precedence over advice from ACAS? I have been in the Civil Service for over 25 years and in my present post for 8 months.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hi there. I do apologise. My response there was sent to you by accident.

Thank you for your response; please leave it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice in a while and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Many thanks for your patience. You are correct that the Human Rights Act can take precedence over the ACAS Code. The Code is just non-statutory guidance which an employer should follow when they take disciplinary action. If they fail to follow it then it does not mean they have broken a law, but a tribunal can increase the claimant’s compensation if the employer has unreasonably failed to follow it.

On the other hand, the HRA is actual legislation, it is an Act of Parliament so it could take precedence over the ACAS Code. However, I do not think you can use this as a defence not to attend a disciplinary meeting. Whilst I appreciate that the HRA provides for the right to private life, it is jot really intended for such cases. You don’t actually know to what extent they kay pry into your private life – a blanket refusal to attend based on what you think MAY happen is not really going to be seen as a reasonable response by you. In these circumstances you risk the employer continuing with the disciplinary in your absence which could result on a worse outcome for you. I suggest you still attend but if they start asking too many private questions then just refuse to answer them based on it being irrelevant and basically your business. However, do not attempt to evade the meeting by using the HRA as that is unlikely to be seen as a reasonable excuse in the circumstances.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the options you have should the disciplinary proceed and you disagree with the outcome, 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 is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Thank you. If you are not dismissed then you can appeal the outcome directly with the employer. If the outcome is a dismissal a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. The time limit to claim is 3 months from the date of dismissal and the claimant needs to have at least 2 years' continuous service with that employer, subject to having at least 2 years continuous service.

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.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thankyou for your answer and giving me a more in depth understanding of the process. I gave a verbal response on the day the issue was raised and I was sent home. I considered the checks I did and the efforts I made to improve in the intervening time sufficient response, especially as no further complaints were made. I had little knowledge of the people in the interview in their role as managers, even though I had a fair knowledge of one of them at least as a person. But in a different and official role their behaviour could change. Also I was wary of "brow beating" being off guard etc, and even though someone else, if I could find someone, could attend, I did not know if they could give advice in the meeting, for example not to answer a question that had been asked previously, but after an intervening topic or topics, and put in a different way, - or just put forcefully after pressure to make me feel at fault and inferior. Thus it was that I declined to attend on an in case basis.
Thankyou again for you time and expertise. If you have any further comments on what I have just put, they may prove useful. So far I have been given a warning letter with the possibility of instant dismissal if I fail again to come to work in what is termed a reasonable condition.
Regards
Stephen Spikes
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hello Stephen, whilst you can appeal the warning, there is probably not much you can do to take it further at this stage (I doubt you will have a case for constructive dismissal here). So even if you do not agree with why you were reprimanded, please consider that objectively speaking this can be a disciplinary issue so coming out with a warning is not so bad and it will hopefully ensure that such issues are not repeated in the future.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hello Ben
Thankyou again for your very useful advice. I will close it at this point.Stephen
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

You are welcome, all the best

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