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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50165
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Hello, I would like to get some advice regarding employment

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I would like to get some advice regarding employment sick leave rights and the way that I am being treated. I believe that my work may be looking to get rid of me, have been causing me much emotional and mental distress and would like to understand my rights as an employee.
I started working at my company which is a large, very high profile organisation in sept 2012. At the time, I had a team leader and a line manager, however, this line manager left for another post in April 2013. I did not have another line manager till sept 2013, and had not had a negative or bad comments about any of my work. My new line manager started in Sept, and at our mid year review in the end of October, she outlined that she had issues with my leadership, and initiative and generally wanted to see me step up more as a manager.
I took her comments on board, and had the opportunity to lead on a project, but after taking on the project, I soon realised there were elements of the project that were out of my comfort zone. I had a conversation with my boss, telling her that I was not happy -- but that I wanted to continue with the project, even though I really didn't feel comfortable with responding to, and having a huge understanding of the political aspects of the workshops I was leading...but made the mistake of saying I didn't feel confident that I was the best person for the project, hoping we could sit and discuss how to change my confidence in that part of the project. I said to her that it would be really helpful if she would work with me, as my manager, to help me in finding a good solution, or resolution to my concerns. Instead, it started a huge problem.
From that meeting, she went to the Head of our department telling them about my concerns. The managers in my team all had a meeting and My boss started to humiliate me, put me down in front of colleagues, started to be over critical, by telling me I couldn't write proper reports, saying that I had a bad attitude and set a bad example to the rest of the team, that I didn't seem to have much work on, and what exactly was I working on, at one point I wrote a report, and she stomped over from her desk and loudly proclaimed that I had she didn't understand a word I had written , and that was bad performance on my part. My colleagues overheard and one turned to me afterwards asking if I was alright. At another time, my line manager had said that for the amount of money I was earning, I should be displaying more managerial aptitude. It was making me anxious to do my work as she continually just made bullying comments, speaking to me like a child.
I went to HR in March. I wanted to voice my concerns about the treatment I was receiving. At that meeting, HR sympathised and were concerned. We then all 3 sat down together to discuss the issues at hand, but it turned into a discussion of my performance and how my manager felt I had serious performance issues that needed to be corrected, which was surprising because I know I had been trying my hardest to please her, but all I kept receiving was criticism. hr also became unsympathetic and made me feel that my performance issues were to blame, however, it has always been an undermining of my competency, and from then on, any work I did was subject to criticism- even if I had other, independent colleagues review my work, and they complimented my work.
My line manager and I worked out an action and development plan in April, I again tried to show leadership in my duties, finished off the original project, wrote up the report, took on other assignments and tried to do the best I could. I thought things were getting better but from my managers perspective, but in July, she said that for my annual performance review, her remarks would be that I was beow standards, even though now that the review period had ended, and she could see new improvement in my performance. She said that overall, I still wasn't up to scratch and she was not happy, feeling that I still was not stepping up as a manager. One day in august we had a meeting, and it was at this meeting that she first indicated that she and HR were putting me through a 'capability procedure', starting with the informal process which was what we had been going through since April. This was a surprise to me! I had not been aware that I was going through any process. At that initial meeting with HR, I had been told that it was an informal meeting to mediate issues between myself and my line manager. So you could imagine my surprise when this procedure landed in my lap!
Suffice to say, this has caused me to be frustrated with my manager and intimidated, but having no support to fight back. I have become ill with the mental strain. how much do I have to say about the situation with my managers when I am back from leave and have my follow up interview? I don't know if I should tell them my sick leave was stress related to work for fear of reprisal!
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is the employer still proceeding with the capability procedure?

Customer: Hi Ben, my name is ***** ***** hoping you can assist me. As far as I am aware, the employer is continuing with the procedure. They have not indicated otherwise, although I have been off for the past 2 weeks...
Customer: Is there anything more you would like me to explain, Ben?
Ben Jones :

You should not fear reprisal for telling your employer you are off sick with work-related stress. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related statutory instruments impose a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. This includes a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities to reduce the incidence of stress at work. In addition, under common law an employer owes a duty of care towards its employees, the breach of which can amount to negligence.

Customer: They have sent me an email asking if I would agree to an occupational health assessment, but should I be wary of that as well?
Ben Jones :

No not necessarily, that will try and identify if there are any issues affecting you that they could perhaps assist with, it should go under their duty to look after your health and safety so if that assessment identifies any specific issues that they have control over they would be expected to deal with them as necessary

Customer: Right. Okay, that was helpful. Thanks! It has put my mind at more ease in returning back to work, although I hope to not have the stress happen again so will try to be open with them about what they are causing? Do you think that is a good idea? Or might that work against me if they are going through a capability procedure?
Ben Jones :

Unless you raise the issues you are going through, it may not give them a chance to try and deal with them, although try and be diplomatic rather than just pointing your finger at them. This should be dealt with separately to the capability procedure anyway

Customer: Thanks Ben. All really usefu
Customer: useful!
Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best with this

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