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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50480
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Back in September one of my employee who has worked with us

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Back in September one of my employee who has worked with us for 3 and half years was on a job away from the office, whilst I was dealing with some supplier payment I found out he has been taking client files home (e.g. quotations, invoices), I politely sent him an email to tell him I do not mind that he takes home the files when he needs to but that it is company policy that staff should not be taking client files outside of the office as he needs to respect that, his response in the email was aggressive to say at least and challenged me to give him a warning if I thought he was wrong. I felt I need to nip in the butt immediately and set an example to the rest of the staff so I replied to the email and told him this is a written warning. He then challenged me again and asked “what is the outcome of this warning?”, I replied that the outcome is to improve your performance, he did not reply.
Fast forwarding to October, as he copies our main email for every email he sent out to customers, I was shocked that within the time he spent on replying customers' email and the format was not up to the company standard. I politely pointed out how he should have responded to the client as well as the wording of the quotation and pointed out that I have let him do his own way for far too long. He then replied with his personal view and explanation on why the quotation was done that way, I then replied that I want him to follow the company policy and not doing things his own way. He then replied and request for training that the other 2 people who were in the same position before had received. Due to the company’s current financial difficulty I cannot afford to let anyone go to training as well as the fact that he is a senior figure in the office so I replied to him and reminded him that he should take the everyday work as part of the training and the training is for newbies and not for someone who already had corporate experience like him, and training will only be provided to the ones willing to learn. He then replied and contest that without training he would not be able to do his job and challenge me for a warning, to which I replied and email and told him this is the second warning. (all conversations are done on email). He later requested for appeal process to be given to him which I did and also set 9am on the 26th of Oct to meet and a chance to hand in an appeal letter before the meeting.
On the night before the said appeal meeting I emailed him to chase the appeal letter he then told me the letter will be handed in one hour before the meeting and also informed me in the same email that he would exercise his right to be accompanied by an Union Representative. I replied and suggested if the letter has not been written that it would be better to reschedule the meeting, he replied and insisted that the meeting only needed to be delayed to 10am and the letter would be handed in at 9am. I then replied and said the time that he gave me isn’t enough for me to go through the appeal letter and the meeting is to be re-scheduled to further notice but still requested the letter to be handed as early as possible.
In the morning I received the appeal letter, in short, they (includes the Union Rep) believe they have the following grounds to appeal
• They turned the appeal letter into a Grievance letter as they refused to recognize the warning
• They believe that I did not follow the ACAS code of practice on issued warning for both occasions
• They challenged the file placement as we also encourage the staff to set up emails on the personal phones which sometimes they will receive documents from customers.
• Inconsistency in training process
After received the letter, I had few days to think, and on the 30th of Oct, I took an opportunity and tried to speak to him on the personal level, but he refused to speak to me without his union representative present, I felt at that stage we would be better not be in the same office so I sent him home.
He kept asking if he was suspended and I said I have nothing for you to do here, and he kept requesting a letter to confirm his suspension but I told him that he wasn’t going to get that. So he left the office.
The same evening I sent him an email to his personal email address with a letter of redundancy and dismissal basically told him that he was dismissed through redundancy and conduct. Conduct for bring the file home and redundancy through company finance and he was the only active member at that time, although we have the other two members of staffs who are recruited on self-employee basis who are with us from time to time to replace the 2 full time staff who are on Maternity leave.
The questions
Did I break any law on the disciplinary ground and the dismissal?
Does he have ground for any unfair dismissal claim based on disciplinary or redundancy?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you Ben, I look forward to receiving your answer

Hi there. No problem at all and apologies for the slight delay. Please can you clarify when the employee left exactly?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I asked the employee to leave on the 30th of Oct afternoon

Hi there, looking at what happened I am afraid to say there has been a complete lack of any fair disciplinary or dismissal process followed by you and the dismissal is very likely to be unfair procedurally.

On all occasions you dealt with him, when you issued the warnings and when you dismissed, you would have been required to follow a fair disciplinary procedure. This would have required you to investigate the allegations against him, to gather evidence to provide all of that to him in advance of a formally arranged disciplinary hearing and given him the chance to appeal. On all occasions you went straight to the outcome without any procedure being followed. All of this is likely to mean that he was indeed unfairly dismissed.

Whether you dismissed him because of his conduct or the redundancy you still would have been required to follow a fair procedure and that clearly did not happen. So yes, he can certainly claim unfair dismissal and he has 3 months in which to do this. You need to consider re-engaging him to avoid a dismissal (which he does not have to accept), or perhaps coming up with a financial settlement amount to ensure he does not make a claim to tribunal. However, do not offer him the settlement until he has commenced the claims process through ACAS.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Hi Ben, rating given as per requested, thanks for your advice.
Could you give me a hint on what is a fair settlement now?
And what would be the worst case if the case has gone to tribunal?

In an unfair dismissal claim, if successful, he can get a basic award (this is calculated in the same way as a statutory redundancy payment: In addition he can go for a compensatory award, which is there to cover his loss of earnings resulting from the loss of his job. Whilst he has a duty to try and find a new job asap, if he cannot do so then he may get loss of salary compensation for a period of time until he either manages to find one or for a reasonable period of time that a tribunal determines he may be off in the current circumstances. So it is difficult to tell you what a fair figure would be as a result, because there are so many factors that depend on it

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Hi Ben
If I come back to you on the same subject, how do I pay?

You can just post a new question like you did with this one, but mark it for my attention, and then I will pick it up and help you as needed