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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44338
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have reason to believe that my right to a disciplinary

Customer Question

I have reason to believe that my right to a disciplinary hearing has been abused by my employer (it is in the contract to have one).
Essentially, I have been suffering from chronic IBS for about the last 2 years. I spent about 7 months off work with a doctor's note and the doctor happily provided me a note to phase my work back in, he understood I suffered quite a bad illness. This happened after eating something at work, a cake from Morrisons. I ate that cake and then 15 minutes later was in the toilets vomiting from this illness.
In the 9 months since I partially returned I have started working almost full time except for an hour in the morning for health reasons, due to my IBS. At this time I was also working 40 minutes during lunch which meant that I was fulfilling all but 20 minutes of my contract hours (7 1/2 hours plus 1 hour lunch) which did not effect my capacity to fill the job position (my job is not that time sensitive).
Everything was going well (I was recovering etc) until suddenly my line manager made me aware that one of the other managers (the company is ruled by a troika) did not like me doing this since it apparently set a bad example to put my chronic illness (which by this time had become my disability) first.
At this point, after some wrangling from my line manager to try and solve it (of which I was not involved in meetings at any point, the other manager made a point to bring my case up when I wasn't there), they (the three managers and the single chairman we have) decided to have a meeting behind a closed door in a room 10ft from me deciding if I would be allowed to put my chronic IBS first or be sacked. I was given no representation in this hearing, past my line manager, and was not given the ability to ask any questions about it to the managers as an entity.
Consequently, I got a GChat message that night from my line manager essentially saying I will do contract hours or be sacked ("that's a fact, not a threat"). Essentially, they pulled me up because my contact says I MUST have an hour of lunch. At no point did they involve me in any hearing or talk on the matter past my line manager who is not HR.
Of course, after this I was given no chance to appeal to this decision etc etc.
I would like some legal advice on what has transpired. Is this a breach of contract and law? The contract definitely says I should receive a hearing and the company will talk to me and try to help me.
Submitted: 24 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 24 days ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 24 days ago.
7 years so far
Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Well, it will be 7 in January
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 24 days ago.

Whether this should have triggered a disciplinary would depend on what the employer’s intentions were and if this resulted in a disciplinary outcome (basically a formal warning or dismissal). I am not too sure that there was a disciplinary outcome here because there was no formal warning issued that would form part of your disciplinary record, it was a decision which said that you should do something or face formal disciplinary action. So it was basically a threat of disciplinary action rather than disciplinary action itself.

Your rights are really concerned around your condition, which could amount to a disability in law. You get pretty strong rights in that case and the protection you get there is much stronger than anything to do with lack of disciplinary you are concerned about.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have under disability laws, 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, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44338
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 24 days ago.
to get this absolutely clear: the case of them saying "you will be fired if you don't comply" wasn't a warning or a disciplinary action?It is just I read on a few sites that normally that choice is made during the hearing with the employee present and after hearing from them.
Customer: replied 24 days ago.
I think they intentionally avoided a formal warning, I feel as though the entire event was corrupted and based too disadvantage me
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 24 days ago.

Thank you. A warning is a formal notification that someone is warned of something and it is then kept on their file for a specific period of time. Whilst there could be an argument that this constitutes a warning your ways of challenging this are not much different than the ways of challenging potential discrimination and are even riskier because you can only challenge it by resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. I would concentrate n the discrimination part here as it gives you much stronger rights.

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).

Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Okay, so the first point is mostly where they have got away with abusing the system against me to stack the process against me. And even though I could argue it is slim since there is no real room in the law for it.But the second could actually be something since this IBS really is bad and I feel sick a lot of the day, more so since I have to work the extra hour now which eats away my ability to take steps to combat some aspects of my illness (such as sleep). Worst part is the company knows this, this is why that other manager had to call in the chairman to overturn a 2 to 1 vote in my favour among the management. Of course this gets to the point of the corruption, she is in a relationship with the chairman.I have one last question: if I were to resign could I have basis to avoid the month the contract requires me to work?
Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Of course, I would like to mention that even for that 2 to 1 vote I never had a hearing or meeting with the management over it. This entire thing has been done behind my back
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 24 days ago.

Hi there, if you were to resign then you would be doing this under constructive dismissal which is wher you have been forced to leave due to the employer’s unreasonable behaviour. This would allow you to leave with immediate effect and without having to work your notice period because the argument would be that through their actions they have breached your contract and its terms are no longer valid, including the requirement to give notice to resign.

Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Awesome, thanks; you've been great :)
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 23 days ago.

you are most welcome, all the best

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