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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I was sacked last week from an assistant PA role without warning

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I was sacked last week from an assistant PA role without warning for being "unsatisfactory for the role" which I had been in for 6 months. I was told to leave immediately and escorted from the building. I had spoken to HR 2 days before and brought to their attention I had been told to rewrite minutes from 4 years earlier for a court case, which I felt was unethical and fraudulent and had been told if it wasn't done and the case was lost it would be my fault. Where do I stand as I feel this was not fair - would I have a case to bring?
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Did you have a contractual notice in place? Also were you only employed by this employer for 6 months?

Customer: I started as a temp on 6 May via an agency and 2 days later they said they wanted to make it permanent, but wanted to wait until 3 months were up to avoid full agency fees. I signed a contract with them on 6 Augustt - the probation period was waived. So, I did 3 months as a temp and 3 as a full time employee.
Ben Jones :

What exactly were you asked to do, change the old minutes so that the new version would be used in a court case?

Customer: The original minutes had been written by the party the company were in dispute with - 33 sets over 3 years- and a whole section on The Bank and Cashflow Situation was to be inserted. I pointed out that the other party could easily compared them and see what had been done. The amended version was to be presented to a legal firm to support the company claim, so I suppose if that firm accepted them, they would be presented at a court case.
Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

sorry just to clarify were you actually asked to provide untruthful information in the amended minutes?

Customer: As I wasn't working at the company then i wouldn't know. But as there was no mention of this section in any of the minutes at the time, it would be reasonable to assume it wasn't discussed.
Ben Jones :

Did you formally raise your concerns about this?

Customer: Yes, I spoke to the HR Director, who is also the MD's wife (I worked directly for him), on Tuesday last week and she said leave it with her. I was sacked on the Thursday lunch time. I didn't mention earlier to you that the previous week I was given a reasonable pay rise which wasn't expected or scheduled, so to sack me the following week for being unsuitable seems inconsistent.
Ben Jones :

The starting point 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.

If you were not paid your notice period when you were due one, that would amount to wrongful dismissal (which is different to unfair dismissal) and you could make a claim in an employment tribunal to recover the pay for the notice period that you should have been given. There is a 3-month time limit from the date of dismissal to submit the claim.

Customer: Ok. They didn't initially give me the correct pay in lieu of notice, but have now. Would I have any redress for the humiliation of being escorted from the building (that's never been done before when anyone else was sacked) or under whistleblowing ie bringing unfair practices to light?
Ben Jones :

you can't do anything about the humiliation unfortunately and whistleblowing will be rather difficult to prove here but you can try and go through ACAS with that argument and use them to try ans negotiate a settlement with the employer - it's free and you have nothing to lose

Customer: Thanks Ben.
Ben Jones :

you are welcome

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