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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49787
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My partner is currently going through a suspension at work

Customer Question

My partner is currently going through a suspension at work due to a complaint a customer made about him.he is a meter reader/fitter.the alleged complaint was for taking a picture of a child in front of a parent without consent and alleged distress caused by this action to the mother.he had been to this property 3 times prior to this day in question.on each occasion that he met the customer she was very chatty, telling my partner practically the families life and why they had moved , about their daughter who at the time he met the lady on the first visit had been quite poorly.all about d.i.y jobs that needed to be done including several house security jobs I.e broken back door and busted window.her disability and generally that their had been a few problems getting the property ready for living in with such a young baby. Her husband allegies that his with was 'hysterical' after my partner had left and that she had became warey of him on the firast visit.
My partner admitted taking the photo right in front of the customer who was chatty with him at the time just to make thw baby was the lady that made point of getting the child when he asked how they were getting on and how/where the little one was since the last visit he had made.she came back saying to the child 'look who's here' in effect ensuring some sort of reaction from my partner.she saw the photo smiled and he showed the baby making her smile and continued chatting with him while he read the meter.
At no time did she say anything to him about the picture being taken nor deleted even after he saw her an hour later going out and both passed pleasantries with her still smiling away.
His total intension was just to make the baby laugh like it does with our child and the picture had been deleted while still at the property.
The company has taken statement from my partner in which he also listed a lot of questions as to why this women was so distressed considering she was very friendly towards him.
The part I find most confusing is that they are only going on what the husband has said in brief description.they have not spoken to the lady or raised an answer to any of the questions that he and his representative have asked giving alot of doubt and uncertainty of the husbands 'hear say' account.
Today a letter for disciplinary meeting in brackets (gross misconduct) which according to their staff handbook only means dismissal. What/how can we do when it comes to this meeting can we do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Please note that as a practising solicitor I am often in and out of meetings, travelling, or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at evenings and weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance that there may be a slight delay in getting back to you. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email as soon as I have responded. Thank you in advance. For now please let me know how long has he worked there for?
JACUSTOMER-fmdksmp7- :

he has been with this company for two years and three months.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. Alleged misconduct is a common reason for taking disciplinary action. It could be due to a single act of serious misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time.

In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:

  • Conducts a reasonable investigation;
  • Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and
  • Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty.

I will discuss these requirements in more detail below:

1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and what resources are available to the employer. An employer is only expected to go as far as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and they would not be expected to conduct a forensically detailed investigation.

2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides evidence that misconduct may have occurred, the employee should be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations and any evidence to be used against them. They have the statutory right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague. At the hearing the employee must be given the opportunity to defend the allegations.

3. Decision - if, as a result of the investigation and the disciplinary hearing, the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and formally sanction the employee. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. Therefore, longer service and a clean disciplinary record should result in the employer giving more thought into deciding what action to take.

4. Penalty - unless the offence was one of gross misconduct (something so serious that it justifies instant dismissal), the ACAS Code of Practice recommends that the employee should be issued with a warning. If any further misconduct occurs in the future, only then should dismissal be considered.

In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.

If there are any doubts about any of the above and there is belief or evidence that the employer has not satisfied these requirements, an appeal can be submitted to the employer immediately after the disciplinary outcome. If the disciplinary results in dismissal then a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. There are two requirements to claim: the employee must have at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer and the claim must be made within 3 months of the date of dismissal.

Ben Jones :

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you are unhappy for some reason with the advice - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you very much