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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 51172
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My manager has decided to initiate an 'informal' process due

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Hello,My manager has decided to initiate an 'informal' process due to 'behavioural' issues. That came out of the blue, based on the 'evidence' in the form of feedback she has solicited from a few people (even though she claims that most of it is unsolicited). The list looks more like a list of accusations and one-sided opinions (e.g. Alex: 'not taking ownership/accountability', without specific examples, and some of them are false (which I can prove) and even contradictory. Some of these people have only interacted with me on a couple occasions and most have never said anything to me in my face, and went directly to my manager, or she has asked them, I am not sure.I feel that I have not been given an opportunity to defend my position, honestly, it feels like a lynch mob and has caused me a lot of stress this weekend.Based on these statements, which I refute, she proposed to remove me from the project and place on a 'Performance Focus Plan' for 6 weeks, which is humiliating given that it's been announced at the top level and across the company that I am leading this workstream (no problem with my performance, just my 'behaviours'). She instead wants me to hand over the project by the end of next week, and then do something completely different, which is made up and is not in her and, therefore, departmental objectives.I've been thinking about a lot what I should do. I decided that the relationship is broken down and I really don't want to be publicly humiliated like this (i.e. being removed from leading the work stream because some colleagues complained behind my back, mainly because I kept flagging a few issues and the way the project is being run) and do something completely different (given that I've only moved to this role in November and that was announced widely).I wanted to take a sick leave and just raise a grievance but on reflection I thought that I would talk to HR first, in the hope they will be willing to listen to my side of the story, which I doubt as they have advised my manager on this process in the first place, although I am not sure whether they have seen the 'evidence' list as it is poorly written and very unconstructive. I am also not sure whether HR are aware that she has decided to remove me from my core job and give me something that is not in her own objectives, so this is confusing, what is she trying to do (or the two of her lieutenants, who, I suspect, are the instigators of all this).Apologies for the long context, I would appreciate your help with the following:1. My manager asks me to 'sign the PFP and return to her for her to sign and retain'. Why is this signature necessary if the process is 'informal'? She said that a formal disciplinary process maybe started in 6 weeks if I don't achieve the objectives of the PFP (although this is not stated on the PFP form).2) Does she have the right to basically remove me from the project I am leading and, so basically remove me from my job. As I said, the list of things she wants me to do are beyond her department and are not even in her objectives so the senior leadership does not expect our department to use a full time expensive resource to do all these things.3) If I refuse to sign the document (which I intend to do), what are the consequences? Am I then entitled to just carry on what I am doing, i.e. leading the project?4) How can I have myself heard? I've been presented with a list of accusations, that she has solicited from a few selected people, and feel like have not been given a chance to defend my position. Is my only way to do this is to raise a formal grievance?5) There is a potential role in another business area and I said to my manager, why don't you just let me move there? I actually did not even want to do this project or move to her department (I'll ask about this separately). She said, 'if Will comes to me, I will have to tell him about the feedback about you and that I've initiated the process I doubt he will offer you a job then'. This sounds really malicious! Does she have the right to do this?I would appreciate the answers to my questions above and any further advice you might offer.I would be very grateful for a quick response.Many thanks,
Julia
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.

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

How long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Hello Ben,Since 16 May 2016, so 1 year 9 months.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I am happy to either talk on the phone or via a chat here. I would appreciate a quick response. Many thanks.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok, thank you. The online conversation is fine.

OK, thanks, ***** ***** answer your questions but just be aware that overall your rights are rather limited and it is all to do with your length of service, which is less than 2 years.

The legal position 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 and constructive dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you or treat you unfairly and force you to resign for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. These include:

· Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

· Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, childbirth and parental leave

· Being a part-time worker

Moving on to your queries:

1. My manager asks me to 'sign the PFP and return to her for her to sign and retain'. Why is this signature necessary if the process is 'informal'? She said that a formal disciplinary process maybe started in 6 weeks if I don't achieve the objectives of the PFP (although this is not stated on the PFP form).

There is no legal obligation to have a signature and signing it does not make it ‘formal’. It is likely required just as an acknowledgement that you are aware of it and will adhere to it

{C}2) {C}Does she have the right to basically remove me from the project I am leading and, so basically remove me from my job. As I said, the list of things she wants me to do are beyond her department and are not even in her objectives so the senior leadership does not expect our department to use a full time expensive resource to do all these things.

Yes she can, bearing in mind your rights above, which are limited. She could even dismiss you on the spot if she wanted to so removing you from the project itself is also acceptable legally

{C}3) {C}If I refuse to sign the document (which I intend to do), what are the consequences? Am I then entitled to just carry on what I am doing, i.e. leading the project?

You could open yourself up to insubordination, leading to dismissal, which you cannot challenge as stated above

{C}4) {C}How can I have myself heard? I've been presented with a list of accusations, that she has solicited from a few selected people, and feel like have not been given a chance to defend my position. Is my only way to do this is to raise a formal grievance?

Yes, or I this goes to a formal disciplinary later on - you can defend any allegations there too

5) There is a potential role in another business area and I said to my manager, why don't you just let me move there? I actually did not even want to do this project or move to her department (I'll ask about this separately). She said, 'if Will comes to me, I will have to tell him about the feedback about you and that I've initiated the process I doubt he will offer you a job then'. This sounds really malicious! Does she have the right to do this?

Yes she can - legally there is nothing stopping her from doing this and it is really a moral issue rather than a legal one. If she really wanted to she could share this feedback, even if it is done maliciously.

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

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks for your responses Ben.So what would you recommend that I do, what would be the best course of action?Thank you.

Considering you rather vulnerable position and not quite knowing the manager’s ultimate intentions, I would get my head down and try to show that you are able to achieve the required tasks to satisfy the performance plan. Kicking up a fuss could prompt them to skip all this performance process and just dismiss, which they very easily can do. This would be the safest option

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok, thank you for your prompt and honest advice. There's more to this story though. I've asked a separate question about it. I am not sure if you can pick it up as well? About me joining the company in May 2016 in one role, then being moved on a 1 year secondment in Jan 2017, then my manager on secondment resigned and left the company in September, then I was 'moved' to this lady who is my current manager. At the end of January, she called me in and said 'I have to inform that your role (my original role) is being eliminated due to restructuring, so it will be at risk, so why don't you just move permanently to my department. Since I was already working on this project for her...There was no consultation period, no formal documentation, I carried on working and just been moved in the system. I now regret that I should have objected. And I suspect that they just didn't want to pay me redundancy?

I have just picked it up...if you could please close this one now by leaving your rating, then I will continue on the separate thread, thank you

Ben Jones and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

re: that negative review- I am only telling you your legal rights, but if you want to shoot the messenger, go ahead. I cannot make up rights which do not exist just to make the situation look more positive...sorry