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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I work in the NHS as an HR Manager and my line manager is the

Customer Question

I work in the NHS as an HR Manager and my line manager is the Head of HR. I am aligned to a particular director and work alongside the Senior Management team of 3 business units. Last year myself and the other 3 HR Managers were re-graded to a higher band to take account of the new senior business role, this would mean that I would be doing more than the Employee Relations and training role I had been doing. We would be getting involved in the business side of things, be involved in workforce planning / shaping the service etc. I have received training since then and developed these skills.

Whereas up to that point I had a good relationship with my Associate Director, I have struggled to develop this role, though I have attended some business meetings I have not had the opportunity to sit down and have those conversations with the AD and have noticed that the other 3 HR managers are getting really involved with what their BUs developing their services. I on the other hand seem to be struggling to get information not updated etc. Last November I went on an HR business partner course and got some really good ideas, about how I can help myself develop this role and help develop the service.

I have noticed that since November, my own line manager has stopped having 1-1 meetings with her HR managers and been difficult to get hold off. Also I have had a conversation with AD about the objective I'm set to develop relationships with the business heads and her, and put in her diary and theirs, meetings. I have had one such meeting at the end of January, and other meetings have been cancelled, I have noticed on the weekly top team meeting that the AD is short with me and there is an atmosphere. I have noticed that she goes to get her advice from another senior HR manager or my manager. They are all quite clicky anyway and have worked together for years. I suppose I sensed she never really wanted my new role and my involvement in her business.

Last week I attended a PRE meeting as I am advising on an Appeal case for Monday and the AD was chairing this and one of the General Managers was also at the meeting . Her behaviour was quite hostile and after we had discussed the case she turned around in front of the GM and said I think we should have some one more senior on this case, perhaps my manager. I responded that with due respect I have been working on these case for years and more experienced at ETs race claims than my manager.

I then suggested that she take the time to read the case (which she had not yet done) and we have another pre meet. I then went to speak to my colleague HR manager who was also involved in this case, and told her what AD had said. She replied that this was an inappropriate response from AD and that I should speak to my line manager as there was perhaps something else going on here. I took her advice and spoke to my manager, about this incident and the cancelled meetings, the fact that I felt I could not do my job etc. She showed no surprise and said that AD had told her she was irritated by me. It was not my performance, as I could do the job. She said she had a similar experience where she felt very irritated with someone in the trust and could not say why but could not be in the same room. She did say AD thought my doing focus groups and work to bring in a mediation scheme was a load of rubbish and these things did not work. I became very upset and suggested that as we are going through recruitment for another manager that this would be a good time to swap and that I wanted to get on with my job. We agreed to sleep on it and discuss it the next day. The next day my manager called me and other HR managers in to say the HR managers were being aligned with ADs and as my AD worked in Surgery and Temporarily in A&E as well. She did not have a 1-1 to explain things to me first. The new HR manager starting in six weeks would be aligned with my AD and I would take on the new service as AE would now separate from Medicine and join Surgery as AD would have this role permanently. I spoke later t hat day to my line manager who said when she spoke to my AD had said that she could not explain why she did not like me it was something she could not put her finger on.

I have been very tearful since and felt my self confidence hit an all time low, I do feel it very unfair that I've really felt compelled to leave division after 3 years, albeit this was my suggestion and that I have not had a proper explanation of why I irritate her and her behaviour at keeping me excluded from the business. I believe that her unprofessional behaviour and her personal feelings should not have affected my job like this.

I want to know where I stand legally on this. My legal position if this new job does not work out or my reputation suffers as a result.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked for this organisation?
JACUSTOMER-70q19hyr- :

I've worked for the nhs continuously since 2006 but with this organisation since January 2011.

Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. In some respects this situation could amount to bullying, which is defined by The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual subjected to it.

Under law, specifically the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, an employer has a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees. In addition, they have the implied contractual duty to provide a safe and suitable working environment. That includes preventing, or at least effectively dealing with bullying behaviour occurring in the workplace.

In terms of what the victim of bullying can do to try and deal with such problems, the following steps are recommended:

  1. First of all, and if appropriate, the employee should try and resolve the issue informally with the person responsible.
  2. If the above does not work or is not a viable option, the employee should consider raising a formal grievance with the employer by following the company's grievance policy. This formally brings the issue to the attention of the employer and they will have a duty to investigate and deal with it.
  3. If, following a grievance, the employer fails to take any action or the action they take is inappropriate, the employee would need to seriously consider their next steps. Unfortunately, employment law does not allow employees to make a direct claim about this. As such, the most common way of claiming is by resigning first and then submitting a claim for constructive dismissal in an employment tribunal (subject to having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer). The reason for resigning would be to claim that by failing to act appropriately, the employer has breached the implied terms of mutual trust and confidence and failed to provide a safe working environment and that there was no other option but to resign. However, this step should only be used as a last resort as it can be risky, after all it will result in the employment being terminated.
Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?