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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46238
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi, I work as a finance manager. Over the last 6 months I

Resolved Question:

Hi, I work as a finance manager. Over the last 6 months I have felt increasingly sidelined for various reasons and on Tuesday decided to speak to my manager to try and clear things up. Instead of resolving my concerns she openly admitted that she and her husband (managing director) have been keeping me out of things because they both feel that I am "sabotaging their attempts for change and have been disrespectful to both of them". Though no examples of this were offered. I refuted these claims and asked her, if they both felt this way, how could we continue to work together? She said she didn't know. I eventually left the meeting with more concerns than I went in with. The next day I submitted a formal grievance about my manager's conduct to the MD (Her husband). I explained that she had been clear that she spoke for the both of them when she said that they were both holding these views of me, which he did not deny. The next day, Thursday, I went to work as they were not in. Then on the Friday morning, I mentioned some print costs to her at which point she slammed her hand down on her desk shouting "Why do you feel the need to talk to me like I am a child? Especially in front of Emily?!!" I found this utterly humiliating in front of a temp (Emily), stammered my apologies and went back to my office where I fell apart, in tears, embarrassed, humiliated and devastated that a job I loved and have worked in for 7 years had come to this. Unable to pull myself together I asked the MD if I could go home briefly explaining. I went in on Saturday while no one was there and tried to catch up and work back the time I owed but couldn't address certain things as it involved contacting my manager. I feel unable to go back as if they can actively side line me and admit to it and humiliate me in public, if I stay the relationship is so badly damaged, what else will they do? My manager in particular seems to have taken everything very personally. Also, if I do continue to work and go in tomorrow, am I accepting that this treatment is fair and relinquishing any claim I might have had regarding this treatment? Many thanks. Kind regards. P
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Are you adamant you now wish to leave?

Customer:

I don't really feel I have a choice. If they feel this way about me but instead of addressing their concerns left it to fester, how can we continue to work together. I attempted to resolve formally by submitting my grievance letter but this just seems to have made the whole thing very personal as far as my manager is concerned. We are a small company, only the husband and wife, myself and currently a temp in the office. The rest are field staff, not office based - 6 of them.

Ben Jones :

what happened with the grievance, has it been dealt with?

Customer:

Not yet - the MD just acknowledged receipt of it and would respond in due course.

Ben Jones :

By going to work tomorrow you will not be accepting the situation as it is to an extent that it would damage your prospects of taking the matter further if you decide to. It is still early days and you also have a grievance in progress. You can at least wait until the grievance is resolved to make a decision. However, you should not delay any decision unreasonably long so as soon as you know that the matter is beyond resolution and you have tried all that you could reasonably be expected to (such as the grievance) you should resign without undue delay.


 


In terms of your legal options on pursuing this, then it could potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:



  • Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

  • An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.


 


A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).


 


As mentioned, if resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.


 


Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.


 


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.


 


Just to make a final, yet important point, that constructive dismissal can be a difficult claim to win as the burden of proof is entirely on the employee to show the required elements of a claim were present. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort.


 

Customer:

Thank you. I have some more detailed facts about the build up to this so will return to work tomorrow, but get an appointment with a local solicitor and take further advice. My main concern was that by continuing to work I would be re affirming the contract. I feel as it stands at the moment, the contractual term of trust and confidence has indeed been broken.

Ben Jones :

No, if it is a short period of time whilst you are trying to resolve this then you would not be affirming it so that you can no longer claim, but as mentioned you should not delay your decision unreasonably after that

Customer:

So it would be reasonable and also protect my position to a degree to:

Customer:

1 - continue to work until the grievance is heard; 2 - if not satisfied approach without predjudice with a view to a settlement agreement and 3 - if this was refused resign stating as you advised earlier?

Ben Jones :

yes correct

Customer:

Brilliant - thanks for the advice - I might sleep a bit tonight now! :)

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46238
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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