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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 62442
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My employer has placed me on what he refers to as garden

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My employer has placed me on what he refers to as garden leave pending issue of a formal warning. I work as a contract manager for a construction company, and the warning is apparently for disagreeing with a client who subsequently requested I be removed from the project. I have an unblemished employment record with many written testimonials from previous clients, so seemingly this particular client just disliked me. Is any of this fair or legal?
Assistant: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: No
Assistant: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I'm directly employed, 5 years service, and not in a union
Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Can I ask if this is a paid or free service please

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

Is your employer carrying out a formal investigation whilst you are garden leave?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
He has not said, only that I should remain away from work until he had time to deal with the situation

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience. This is unlikely to be garden leave, which happens when you are serving your notice period, so it will most likely be period of suspension.

Being placed on suspension is not an automatic assumption of guilt and does not amount to disciplinary action. Whilst it can lead to disciplinary action, it is primarily there to be used as a precautionary measure whilst an employer investigates any serious allegations against the employee. Reasons for suspending could be in the case of gross misconduct, breakdown of relationship, risk to an employer's property, their clients or other employees, to preserve evidence or ensure it is not tampered with, avoid potential witnesses being pressured or intimidated, etc.

The period of suspension should be as short as possible and kept under regular review. During that period the employer should conduct a reasonable investigation into the allegations against the employee. If the investigation gathers enough evidence to justify taking disciplinary action, the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations and evidence to be used against them and be given the opportunity to prepare to defend themselves at the forthcoming hearing.

In terms of issuing you with a warning, that is possible if you have potentially affected the relationship with their client. I must point out that the law allows employers to even dismiss someone if a client of theirs no longer wants them working at their sites and there is no other work available, so a warning will not necessarily be that bad considering that. Of course, you can still challenge the employer at any forthcoming disciplinary hearing and explain your side of the story, hoping that the employer takes that into consideration.

One more observation is that the employer should not have decided the outcome before you have had the chance to go through the formal process and it suggests the outcome was pre-determined, which would allow you to challenge it on these grounds as well.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thanks for coming back to me. My employer has requested a face to face meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss matters further.
He could have placed me on other sites or had me at the office undertaking admin tasks as the company is extremely busy and other colleagues are stretched.
Can I revert to you once the face to face has taken place, and he has made his intentions known?

yes sure, could you please leave your rating to remove this from my queue for the time being - you will still be able to come back to me next week on here if needed. Many thanks

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Of course. There's a couple of things that might be relevant.
I had a meeting with my employer at the end of July on site. At the meeting I told.him how difficult things were and asked to be redeployed following my annual leave later that week.
When I returned from leave I was asked to attend a meeting at the office where I was told that the client did not want me to return.
My employer had placed someone else in my position to deal with the client, but wanted me to return to deal with the operatives on site.
This was 4 weeks ago.
Do you think my employer placed me in that situation in order to A. Make me resign or B. So that the situation would deteriorate further giving him a reason to discipline or sack me?

That’s a difficult question to answer. In all honesty, I simply cannot guess what their motives were. Either of the options you mentioned are possible but at the same time, they could have had nothing to do with their decision. I think it may become clearer once we know the final outcome as that may point towards what their plans may have been at the outset.

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thanks. I'll come back to you following my meeting on Tuesday

No problem

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Good evening
I've now had the face to face meeting with my employer, and he intends to issue me with a formal written warning.
He cites that I failed to act upon something that he asked me to do.
I agree with my failure to act in good time but do not believe this constitutes a written warning - I've never had any verbal warnings, and he has never had cause to speak to me on this previously.
Has he acted correctly here?

A written warning id generally the first step of a formal disciplinary sanction so you have really only been issued with the lowest official penalty. Verbal warnings are unofficial and do not form part of a formal disciplinary process so if they did not believe a verbal was sufficient, they could have gone on to a simple written warning. You can still appeal the outcome though as that is your legal right but if you do that and the warning stays, it may be best to just accept it, with the knowledge it will only b on your record for a limited period of time