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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 as a finance clerk at an academy. Because of bad management

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I work as a finance clerk at an academy. Because of bad management and iverspending we have a 1.4k defence it. The head was made to resign. The business director resigned, the finance manager was paid off. They asked for voluntary redundancies but refused people who requested to go and it was clear they chose who was going. One of these was a finance 'apprentice' who had been there 4 years. That left our office with just 2 of us, there used to be 4 plus the 2 managers. The apprentice left Monday. Us 2 have already taken on the duties of a person who left a year ago. Now we have to taken on the duties the 'apprentice had, which are not little responsibilities, it is a lot of work. Yesterday they told us 2 that as they had made the receptionist redundant we also have to do cover downstairs on reception now! We are stressed to the hilt. I left early yesterday a I was in tears with stress of the thought of having yet another duty to do, that by the way I have never done so do not know the oricedures, switchboard equipment etc. I do not want to do this extra duty, we are stretched to the hilt as it is but the acting head will not listen. I wish to resign but have to work a months notice taking me up to the end of term but I'm not sleeping, I feel sick and am having panic attacks. Can I resign with immediate affect please and what are the consequences if I do. My Union has told me to go to my gp as I am obviously not fit to work but this will go on my sickness record. They say sickness can be explained to future employers but having a disciplinary if I refuse to cover reception as well would not be looked kindly upon on my record.i have enough money to see me through for a few months not working. But I just don't know how to handle this. To end the other finance clerk is also going to resign but will cover reception as she has done it a lot in the oat. Like me She doesn't want to As our own work will suffer but has to.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for? Also does your contract say you can be asked to take on such additional duties?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I started as a temp in November 2011 and was taken on May 2012. Just the usual line of 'any additional work within the scope of my grade. I am a grade 4. Receptionist was a grade 2.
This could potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:
• Serious breach of contract by the employer; and
• An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.
A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario). In your case you are being continuously inundated with additional work and even thought here is a general clause allowing the employer to ask that of you, this is really only to be used in exceptional circumstances. Such clauses are there to allow you to take on additional work to cover sickness, holidays or a temporary need by the employer – not for you to be given these duties permanently.
The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away.
If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.
Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.
An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.
Just to make a final, yet important point, that constructive dismissal can be a difficult claim to win as the burden of proof is entirely on the employee to show the required elements of a claim were present. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks for this. They wish me to cover some reception duties for the remaining four weeks left of this academic year. The new structure of employees, including the newly allocated receptionist, begins in September. Does it make a difference that this extra duty is for fours weeks?
It may do as it is only temporary. Saying hat they should not expose you to unnecessary stress as that is against health and safety. So it is all relevant - there is a clause allowing that but the extra work needs to be reasonable and if it becomes of an unreasonable volume then you may still refuse it even with such a clause in place. In any event, the grievance route should be pursued first before you do anything more drastic.
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