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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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I've got to attend a disciplinary hearing next week. It will

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I've got to attend a disciplinary hearing next week. It will be chaired by a manger I've never met and a member of the HR team. The allegation is: Providing support beyond the boundaries of the role of a beneficiary support co-ordinator and outside the charities eligibility requirements.
History: I have been in post 8 years and during that time have not had a very positive experience with HR related issues. When applying and at interview for my current role I was very clear about my health issues. After a year in post I had to take some time off sick. The week before I was due to return to work I met with the then HR manager and my line manager - I was led to believe this meeting was to discuss a phased return to work, instead of which I was threatened with termination of my employment on the grounds of capability. I had been seen by occ health and there was nothing to suggest I could not return to my role if a couple of reasonable adjustments were made. I suggested that they go ahead and terminate my employment and left the meeting - shortly afterwards I got a call from a senior manager saying that I would not be losing my job and I should return to work as planned and the occ health advice would be implemented. However since then, if I get behind or overloaded with work and I ask for help the response always begins with "is this really the work or because you are unwell".
It is mentioned every time I have an appraisal, as needing close monitoring.Then there was an issue with 2 members of the team targeting 2 others and bullying them. I was aware this was going on but couldn't do anything as it was just rumour. However after that one of the bullies contacted me to ask me to obtain a job description for on of her targets - I asked why she wanted me to do it and she said if I do it I'll be accused of scheming. I pointed out that she was scheming and said I'd think about her request.
Shortly after that a team event it was suggested that the team meet after a training day to discuss tactics for following days team meeting. During which they outlined their plan of attack for the following day. One member of the team flatly refused to attend this meeting. I wasn't happy with this and made a complaint to my line manager.
The 2 of them were suspended for a week and then returned to work. Myself and 3 others who had complained were not told they would be back at work, no action was taken against them.
We were then told we had to have a team effectiveness meeting; and that we were all required to attend. At the meeting there were only 2 of the complainants my line manager and myself. Ms T & Mrs E (the bullies) and 2 members of staff that had not been involved in anyway up to that point. Also present was a mediator - it was awful basically myself & my line manager were subjected to 6 hours of verbal abuse - however neither of us rose to the bait. Afterwards I had to travel with the others involved to the station in the same taxi and then travelled home alone - I felt very unwell by the time I arrived at Exeter and collapsed as I got off the train. An ambulance was called and I was admitted as an emergency as I was having a hypotensive crisis and possible heart attack.
I was discharged and allowed home the next day.
After that Ms T resigned prior to this she made a counter allegation against my line manager and myself and we had to go through the whole disciplinary process again. Again we were not advised of the outcome. Mrs E remained in post but was allowed to withdraw from all team activities - this created a difficult working environment which continued till she resigned due to relocation last year.
Over Christmas last year my case load topped 50 (not for the first time) and I had to ask for help, again I was met with are sure you aren't behind because you are not well? However the assistant director services looked at my case load and gave me 6 hours overtime as a one off to catch up - and following a discussion my area of 7 counties was reduced to 5. Earlier this year I had a change of part of my diagnosis, this prompted my being referred to occ health again, last time I saw someone twice, this time it was a 10 minute phone call and a report sent through the post - basically saying I was fully fit.
This again was commented on at my appraisal and I pointed out that only part not all of my diagnosis had changed and that fact had been ignored by occ health, HR and management. Again my case load was top heavy and it was suggested I got over involved and should let other professionals lead I was able to evidence the chaos caused when I did this and the length of time needed to sort out said chaos. I have felt and still feel that I am being "got at" constantly. Since I've been with the Charity, some non entitled beneficiaries get help, some don't. I wrote one letter for a non entitled beneficiary and sign posted another.

Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What would you like to know about this situation?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ben, as you can see from the above I have been having problems at work for a long time.

What are my options, and how do I resolve the above issues.

The hearing is Wednesday morning - I had already notified my employer I had a hospital appointment that day - Am I expected to cancel the hospital appointment?

Some non entitled beneficiaries get help some don't depending on who they are and who I ask at head office.

I feel as if I am being harassed and my health is beginning to suffer because of it.

How do I proceed?

Hello, have you ever raised a formal complaint about any of this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No not yet, but it is well documented in my appraisals.

Should I file a complaint and when should I file it?

Tomorrows meeting is regarding assisting non-entitled beneficiaries. Since I've been with the Charity, some non entitled beneficiaries get help, some don't. I wrote one letter for a non entitled beneficiary and sign posted another.

Though in the past I have been asked to assist 3 other non-entitled beneficiaries by management. All within the last 2 years.

Hello first of all if you were already not going to be in work on the day they have proposed and have a genuine reason not to attend, such as a medical appointment, you can ask the employer to postpone the meeting. This would only really happen if you are unavailable for a genuine reason but you do have on here so can make that request. In general, your situation appears that it 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). 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 trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Thanks for the above which I'll need time to think about because of the immediate financial impact resigning would have and the costs I would incur should I pursue a claim of constructive dismissal.

I'm expecting to be issued with a written warning tomorrow or get fired.

I don't believe I deserve either.

I don't want to accept the written warning - so what would I have to do to challenge this?

If I get fired, could I claim unfair dismissal?

If you get a warning, then you simply appeal it - you get the automatic right to do so. If you get dismissed then whether you can claim unfair dismissal depends on the reasons for dismissal and how the procedure was undertaken.
In order to justify that dismissal on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:
• Conducts a reasonable investigation;
• Follows a fair disciplinary procedure;
• Has reasonable grounds for believing the employee was guilty; and
• Show that dismissal was a decision that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.
In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Altogether, it means that a disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:
1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and especially the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.
2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee may be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations, allowing them time to prepare. They have the legal right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague.
3. Decision and penalty - following the disciplinary, if the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and dismiss. When deciding on whether dismissal is appropriate, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. They also need to act with a degree of consistency if other employees have previously been disciplined over similar issues. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning.
In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.
If there are any doubts or evidence that the above requirements have not been satisfied, an appeal can be submitted to the employer straight after the disciplinary outcome is communicated. If the appeal is rejected a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. The time limit to claim is 3 months from the date of dismissal and the claimant needs to have at least 2 years' continuous service with that employer.
If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The meeting is now over - the person chairing the meeting split the allegations in to 2 cases as it involved 2 different individuals.

The first, I got a first written warning - though she then went on to say she could have given me a final written warning but hadn't because I'd cooperated.

The second was dismissed.

I can appeal the warning but I think it it would just be a waste of time - thank you though for your advice it was very helpful.

Kind regards


Hello Dianne, I am glad that at least this did not result in dismissal. With the warning - you can appeal and have nothing to lose to be honest, the worst outcome would be that it would stand. But it is up to you really so I understand if you leave it as it is