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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50191
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have a query. I wanted to understand my rights as a

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Hello,I have a query. I wanted to understand my rights as a consumer. We had an employee benefits website which 30 of us were accused of using wrongly at work as it was for manager use only apparently. but nothing stated this on the page there were no protection against employee using it. It was so easy to us and 30 of us ignorantly used it to give each other points at work. However we didnt know this was wrong until we had disciplinary as there was no warning or sign as there should be on a product or service. and just wanted to know what my rights are as I want to appeal against their decison.

Hello what type of benefit was this for and was there ever any indication you could not use it? Also how long have you worked there for and how long did you use this website for?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
HellO Ben, The website had one tab for getting health care benefits chilcare etc. the tab right beside these has employee benefits and discounts this section gave us the chance to give our fellow employee points and enough points can be used in vouchers for amazon etc. I checked all round this to ensure i was authorised to use it. There was no warning or signs showing it was to be used by only manager nothing. So 30 employee used this thinking it was safe. However we got disciplinary for this. I have been working there for 2 years now. we used the website for only 2 days but the website was open for a month to use the benefits excluding this section which we were not warned against

Hi sorry my connection dropped earlier and has only just been resolved. Can you please tell me exactly when you started working there and also what was the outcome of the disciplinary?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I started working there 14 july 2014 the outcome for me was an immediate dismissal which I feel is unfair. But I just want to knowbifbi have anything to stand in in my appeal which I need to send in a couple days time.

What was your contractual notice period which the employer should have given you on termination? When was the dismissal?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It was an immediate dismissal on the spot and the dismissal was on the 30 June. So want to raise an appeal but need something to work with especially regarding the system being so free to access of it was wrong and so bad to the point it could cause dismissal upon use

What was your contractual notice period which the employer should have given you on termination?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't think there was any she could dismiss us if required as it stated in the documents received that it could leave to dismissal. Which she did.

Thank you. The main issue here is that if you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, etc.).

If the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions then you would not be able to challenge it and your only protection would be if you were not paid your contractual notice period, because unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, you would be entitled to receive your contractual notice period. If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. Your employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they will have to pay you in lieu of notice.

So whilst you cannot legally challenge the dismissal, even if you did nothing wrong, you can argue that what you did was not gross misconduct and as such you should at least be paid your notice period. You can use mitigating factors such as there being no specific policy on this, that you never had been given instructions on the use pf the site, that this was not an isolated incident but many others had the same assumption, etc. So in the circumstances you cannot legally overturn or challenge the dismissal but you can try and get the notice period paid. Of course the employer could still decide to overturn the dismissal as they have the prerogative to do so but if they refuse your appeal, that would be the end of the matter in terms of challenging the termination.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to take if you want to take this further to challenge them for the notice period, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Ben,That is understandable that I have limited power in term of how I can appeal. But I just wanted to know if there was any legal protection regarding if no warnings have been placed on something and it is misused. Is there anything about this? Also if I worked there for for about 4 years what could my rights be? I can at least help with some advise to my colleagues who have been there longer than me. To help them at least even if I don't have much chance with mine.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have also rated you a 5 star

Thank you. Unfortunately in your case there is nothing you can do because all of the points you raised are to do with the fairness of the dismissal procedure and as mentioned you simply are not protected against unfair dismissal. So unless you can show that you were dismissed on discriminatory grounds, such as due to your age, gender, race, religion, etc, you will not be able to legally challenge the dismissal. You may still submit an internal appeal but that leaves the decision fully with the employer. If the appeal is rejected then that would be as far as you can take it.

Those with more than 2 years’ service will be better protected. 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.

It is the last point which will be their best grounds for appeal. If there was no policy in place, no terms of usage for the site, no warnings about what they can and can’t do and this was their first offence, then really this should have been dealt with through a warning and only continued misuse should have resulted in dismissal. So they can appeal first and if that fails – contact ACAS to start the pre-claim conciliation process.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello BenThank you so much for your help so far. I will inform those who have worked there over 2 years. Just one last question please. Is there any policy as well that talks about the rights of a consumer of a product especially if there was no warning to regarding the use of the item. If there was no warning is there any legal term that protects our rights. I know I can only apeal as a try. But I am looking for something that protects consumer in terms of if there was nothing stating against your actions on the use of the item and you get hurt or accused when there was no protection nor warning. Just like how there are signs like do not park or parking is at customers risk or do not enter if below 18 as these warning are guides for people in a situation that there was no guide in the use of the website and it was misused innocently what can I quote in terms of a legal term which talks about this. Is there any at all? Hope my question makes sense. This is my final question. Hope that is okay. Many thanks

This is not a consumer issue, it is an employment matter which rests entirely with policies in place, what was communicated to the employees and whether the outcome by the employer is deemed reasonable in these circumstances based on these factors. So regardless of your consumer position, this has nothing to do with the employment side of things.