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Jenny
Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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I work in a school kitchen which is run by a company called

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i work in a school kitchen which is run by a company called Norse. ( this company took over from when the school kitchens where run by the council). I have been working there for 15 years, with absolutely no problems, and i have not ever done anything wrong. All the staff in the school including the head teacher and the admin staff are completely with me on this and feel that it is outragous. They would like to end there contract with Norse but they have to give 2 full terms notice to do this. My boss has come to my kitchen and caught me cooking mince meat that is to be served the following day. i have been covering another employees job of transporting meals so to make the spare time i have been forced to cut corners. When my boss came into the kitchen i put the saucepan of mince in my food cupboard in a bid to hide it from her so she didn't see what i had done. She has had to investigate the issue and it has now been taken to the next level where i have been suspended from work with pay until they have completed there investigation and they will do a hearing with me in a week or so. They have called this gross misconduct and as a result there is a very high chance i will be dismissed with no warnings. I would just like to know if this is severe enough to be called gross misconduct and are my employers acting in the correct manner. Thankyou, i hope this all makes sense.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is***** am a solicitor and I am happy to help you today. Have they said what the exact ground of gross misconduct is?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i have just read the letter again and it doesn't actually state gross misconduct on the letter, it was said verbally though. the letter states , having carried out my investigations i believe that there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a formal disciplinary hearing i believe that your actions are extremely serious and as such have suspended you from work pending the outcome of this process. that is word for word what the letter says.
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Does the letter give you a date for the hearing?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
this is how it reads on the letter. i realize this is a difficult situation for you and i will endeavor to arrange your disciplinary hearing as soon as possible
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Ok thanks, ***** ***** common practice or condoned practice in the kitchen to cook the food in advance? Had you raised the fact that you had too much to do with management at all?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
we where able to do this a while ago, but we were told about 6 weeks ago that we were no longer allowed to do it. i haven't really raised the issue about the amount of work i have to do, we are a very rural area and so i am quite aware how hard it is to get cover for these sorts of things, i have a very strong get on and do attitude. which has landing me in trouble
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
So were you told that in the future you could be disciplined or dismissed for preparing the food in advance?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
we were told there was a new hr person in the company and she didn't want meat cooked the day before. we were told that for joints of meat some kitchens would struggle to get the meat cooked and sliced in time for out school so to write a letter explaining your situation and hr would decide if you could be made an exception, my boss did not actually agree with this completely she said if it was up to her we could still do it. I think half my problem is that i got scared of being caught and put the mince in the cupboard, so the letter states that the meat was stored in the cupboard for use the following day. I have assured them on many occasions that this would absolutely not happen and the meat would be cooled to the correct temperatures and fridged.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
at no point were we told that it would be a sack able affence
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Ok understood. Did you explain this at the time (about putting it in the cupboard?)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i told my boss that i am sorry it was in the cupboard but it was only in there to hide it from her so she didn't know what i had done, she said to not worry it is fine, she understands that she is pushing my and i don't have enough time it was a couple of days after that she rang me to say she had to start an investigation. after leaving the kitchen she went to the office and they asked her if everything was ok and she said yes everything was ok
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Ok in order to dismiss a person for gross misconduct the employer has to have reasonable belief that: a) the person has committed an act of gross misconductb) act reasonably in all of the circumstances. In your situation I would argue that you were not aware that preparing food early could result in your dismissal and this had been the normal process for many years. You can apologise for the error with putting the food in the cupboard but say you were stressed and it was stupid but you do not keep cooked meat in a cupboard. If your employer does dismiss you for this it is my view that you could argue it amounts to unfair dismissal given the lack of clarity surrounding the issue. I cannot guarantee you would win a claim but you certainly would have a case to argue. This is the basic legal position, I would be grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating as I am not otherwise credited for answering your question. I will be happy to answer any specific follow on questions you may have.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thankyou for your help
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
No problem and all the best with. Thanks for the rating.