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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48787
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I'm a head of a department and myself and a subordinate

Customer Question

Hi, I'm a head of a department and myself and a subordinate were sending explicit messages to one another. I stopped the texts and cancelled a meeting we were going to have. This was over 2 months ago. The guy (subordinate) is a criminal and lied on his application. We found out and gave him a 2nd chance at the company. I ended the texts around the time of his probation meeting where we discussed this. Since then he has faked google reviews, sent information to his private emails etc. He tried to resign on the day I terminated his contract. I terminated his contract anyway with payment of notice in leui. He has come back with a claim of harassment and bullying to my directors whilst I was on holiday. Subsequently I'm on suspended leave. What are my rights and do you think he has a case even although I can prove that the relationship between us after his probation was normal??
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, can you please let me know how long you have worked there for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
A year and a half
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben. I've got a meeting today with my directors, I want to know my rights. Also I know I'm guilty for sending messages, I didn't sleep with him but surely as I stopped it there must be some kind of silver lining for me?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hi there, being placed on suspension is not an automatic assumption of guilt and does not amount to disciplinary action. It is there to be used as a precautionary measure whilst an employer investigates any allegations against the employee. Reasons for suspending could be in the case of gross misconduct, breakdown of relationship, risk to an employer's property, their clients or other employees, to preserve evidence or ensure it is not tampered with, avoid potential witnesses being pressured or intimidated, etc.
During the period of suspension the employer should conduct a reasonable investigation into the allegations against the employee. If the investigation gathers enough evidence to justify the taking disciplinary action that could be the next step. In that case the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations against them and be given the opportunity to prepare for the hearing.
On the other hand, if the investigation does not find enough evidence to justify a disciplinary, the employer should terminate the suspension immediately and allow the employee to return to work as normal.
The main issue here is that If you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you 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 you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, etc.). In the event that the reason for dismissal fell within these categories, then the dismissal will either be automatically unfair, or there will be a potential discrimination claim.
If the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions then you would not be able to challenge it and your only protection would be if you were not paid your contractual notice period, because unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, you would be entitled to receive your contractual notice period. If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. Your employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they will have to pay you in lieu of notice.
If you were not paid your notice period when you were due one, that would amount to wrongful dismissal (which is different to unfair dismissal) and you could make a claim in an employment tribunal to recover the pay for the notice period that you should have been given. There is a 3-month time limit from the date of dismissal to submit the claim.
So regardless of whether you did anything wrong or not the employer could dismiss if they really wanted to but you can use any mitigating factors you can think of to try and make them believe that it should not get to that.
I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. 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
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. So basically the power is in his hands.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Correct although don't necessarily assume the worst