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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49816
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I've been off work with work related stress over 6

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I've been off work with work related stress for just over 6 months. This has in turn exacerbated a disability which my employer is aware of. The stress has been caused by bullying, harassment and disability discrimination by my manager which my workplace has not dealt with. I've exhausted the grievance and appeal procedure and now the union say they won't give me legal assistance so my papers are with a solicitor of my choice to see if I have a case which apparently it's likely I do.
However, I've since had contact from work to attend a case meeting in a week. This is to discuss my future there. It does warn it may result in dismissal if no return date can be given. At present 6 Doctors/OH Nurses have said I'm not fit to work. I'm that unwell I need help with basic tasks some days.
The letter says "if I don't want to attend I can send a written submission". I've emailed work and told them it's inability to attend rather than not wanting to. I would compromise by doing a phone conversation but they seem reluctant. The problem being I have no idea what goes into a written submission, my union now refuse to communicate with me and I can find no guidance anywhere. Any idea please what I should do as I wish to be seen as cooperating but I don't know what a submission consists of. I've asked my employer in writing and verbally but they wouldn't clarify so I'm lost!
How long have you worked there?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
HiI've been there just under 16 years now.Thanks
Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, I experienced some temporary connection issues and could not get back on the site until now. All appears to be resolved now so I can continue dealing with your query. Have you only been given the very basic of details about the reason for the meeting, such as that it is to discuss your future there and it may result in dismissal? Did they give any other information about what may be discussed, etc?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That's ok. Thanks for getting back to me. All the letter says is the following:"the purpose of the meeting is to discuss options and gain agreement on a way forward. You may be accompanied by a Union person or colleague. HR officers will be in attendance for support and guidance. If you don't wish to attend you can send a written submission.They will be looking to see if a return to work is possible and if so to devise a structured programme to accommodate this. The conference may include a number of outcomes including:1) Phased return based on OH advice
2) Consideration and implementation of reasonable adjustments
3) The conference should agree a return date taking into account OH adviceIf those attending the conference find a return is unlikely, you will be informed and a submission made to the HR Director on whether or not you will continue to be employed. You will be given a copy of any notes made. Please advise if you will be attending or sending a submission."This all stems from a grievance I made against my manager which caused me to go off unwell. It was not upheld or handled properly as the same person that handled the investigation also did the appeal. My GP said from the very first Fit Note I should not work with this person and move to another area, firstly as they have caused ill health but also made a disability worse. They won't allow this as a "reasonable adjustment" as they've said "your complaint wasn't upheld, there is nothing wrong with you" and they're insisting I return under this Manager.They will not get my OH reports for 21 days as I discovered yesterday as I asked to see the report first I have to see the report with my GP, say if I agree then if so it goes to the employer. So I'm unsure why the need for a meeting before all medical evidence? Verbally (as they're phone OH assessments) they've said not to return and could not predict a date as the employer would not implement adjustments.With all this, what should I do in relation to a meeting which I cannot attend? I've already said I'll do one by phone but they seem reluctant but I don't know what should go in any written submission.Thanks very much
Thank you. I must admit that a written submission for this type of meeting is not going to be easy. These are mainly used for disciplinary hearings where for example you cannot attend due to illness and you provide a written submission with your side of the story and it is basically your defence, which they can use to determine your guilt. However, in a meeting like this one you are not facing specific allegation which you can address in your submission, it should be an open discussion about trying to help you and finding the best and most suitable way forward. So it is not a case of simply answering allegations, it is exploring different options to a problem and this is not really done by simply writing a submission and working on that. Therefore, I would push for a telephone conference – if they can hold a meeting with you in person, there is no reason why they cannot do this over the phone. Remind them that this is a meeting aimed at helping you and assisting you with dealing with this issue, so you should be given the opportunity to participate as fully as possible, Also state that you have a disability in law and that as an employer they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments and in this case it would be a reasonable adjustment to hold the meeting over the phone, otherwise it could be discriminatory conduct on their part. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. 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
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That's great. Thank you. What senior management (who are apparently chairing said meeting) tried to say the other day was "they were concerned" if I did a phone conference I would have no companion. This is because throughout the grievance other colleagues have had the same treatment by my manager (exempting the disability discrimination element) thus are too afraid to accompany me in case of further reprisals and now the Union will not answer my calls or emails. No colleagues will officially complain about the managers behaviour though.Is it advisable to push for a conference with no companion next week or to say to the employer I will gladly do the phone conference when they are in receipt of all medical information which is in approx 21 days as this would be more conducive to a better discussion and decision for them? Thank you.
It is entirely up to you if you have a companion or not - it is your right to have one but you can choose to be alone, that is entirely your choice so it is a poor reason by them not to call you. I would wait until they have the evidence as that will allow a better understanding of your circumstances and the whole discussion will be a lot more productive