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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I am a practice manager in a GP practice. The partnership

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Hi I am a practice manager in a GP practice. The partnership has recently been changed and the new partnership is a husband and wife. I have been in my employment at the practice since 1989. It is inevitable that changes will be made due to how the new partners wish to run the practice. However, despite my best attempts of trying to support some decisions, I have become increasingly excluded from involvement in areas where I have always been involved in. This week I was handed a handwritten letter, most of it was illegible but the parts that were clear and stood out were underlined and in handwritten large capital letters threatening me with gross misconduct. I was shocked at the way this letter had been written to me, I was not subject to any disciplinary proceedings or have never in my career been subject to a warning although I have previously been shouted at in front of the receptionists by the Go partner and told to get on with my management duties. Following receipt of this handwritten letter I said immediately I was extremely upset about the wording toward me, so distressed that I needed to go home as I was unable to carry out my duties effectively that day the letter was taken back off me by the other GP partner who commented that the letter had been written in anger the previous evening. I returned to work the following day and was summons to the GP partner who handed me a further letter this time typed and legible. This letter did not include any of the warnings from the previous handwritten letter to me. I have received no apology, I have explained that I was extremely distressed by the contents and have asked for the letter back. I think this has now been destroyed. However I am aware that there is a witness to the content as this had been revealed to another member of the team by the GP partner. I am considering a formal grievance, however as I am the practice manager and the Gp partners are the subject of my grievance, I do not have anyone to submit this grievance to. I have recently obtained an employment law diploma and I know that this was inappropriate toward me. Can you please provide me with any further advice, I intend to contact ACAS tomorrow evening when I finish my working hours. I also wish to mention that I work extremely hard for the GP partners, sometimes until 11pm which is not my contracted hours, however I am very work focused and have great pride in my role.
Thank you for any advice further.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can I ask if you to please anonymise my name appropriately. Thank you

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

Please can you summarise the contents of the typed letter so that I have a better understanding of the this situation? Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello, thank you for your help. The typed letter received the following day was a letter requesting all personnel records to be photocopied and collated by the end of business day. I had been informed that the partners wanted to outsource HR and had purchased a 12 month contract only the previous day. There had been no prior discussion with me only that was their intention. I had mentioned only that it felt a waste of money that I had completed a recent diploma in employment law through the BMA only this same week. The letter I received the following day was much more polite but gave me an unreasonable tinescale for completion taking into my other responsibilities. I have expressed that and have requested a more ' reasonable' timescale. However the handwritten letter which I had been given the day before was of a demanding, shouting nature with a threat made of gross misconduct action if I did not fulfil the request immediately. I have managed HR perfectly well with no complaints since 1989. However I appreciate the new partnerships decision on the outsourcing. My concern is that the letter that was given to me was firstly not following the ACAS code in any way, made me feel distressed in front of my colleagues and was of a threatening manner. I had not been asked previously to action any of the request nor was I subject to any disciplinary proceedings. i was in total disbelief and am still extremely upset at this handwritten letter which was taken back from me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I would be very happy to call if that is easier.

Hello, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. If an employer wanted to take formal disciplinary action against you then they are indeed required to follow a fair procedure, as laid out by the ACAS Code, but they cannot be forced to do so. It just means that if they do not and then you end up making a claim for unfair dismissal against them the tribunal can increase your compensation for failure to follow that Code.

What your rights are in this situation will very much depend on their next step. They may have issued the letter inappropriately and not in accordance with procedures, but if they retracted it and did not act on it then they have not really breached procedure as such because that would only be relevant if they took formal disciplinary action against you without following a fair procedure. At this stage you have not been disciplined and if they have corrected the procedure before formal disciplinary action is taken then they can rectify the initial errors – it is if they had continued with the unfair procedure that it would become an issue.

That does not mean they are just allowed to issue such letters and that could in itself amount to a breach of trust and confidence. Apart from a grievance it would only allow you to resign and claim constructive dismissal as a possibility but this is unlikely o be serious enough on its own to warrant resignation. So you may still raise a grievance if needed and whilst you may not be able to raise it with anyone else, they should still be able to hear it and would be expected to act in an unbiased manner.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss what options you have if you wanted to leave this employment anyway. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** able to provide an update for this situation following my work day tomorrow. I am unsure as yet what their next step is with this situation. I appreciate your advice.

Yes of course you can, I can deal with any further advice as a follow up question for no extra charge. In the meantime if you could please leave your rating for the response so far I would be grateful, thank you

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Mr. Jones things have not been great at all for me in work. I think I will have to look at options for how I would leave this employment as the stress and upset is just too much. It is not just me but all of my colleagues feel the same way about how they are treated. It is an awful place to work now and everyone is terrified of this particular GP partner. They have been told they cannot laugh, even in their own time, it's ridiculous and morale is rock bottom. I know you cannot advise on anything other than my original question, so really my only question is how I go about resigning should I wish to follow that route. Thank you again for your advice.

Hi there, sorry to hear about this. This could potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:

· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.

A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).

If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.

Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your very helpful advice, it's a very difficult decision for me as I have been there since 1989 and never had anything like this. We are a good team but a very unhappy atmosphere keeps getting worse since the change of partnership. I need to consider my future there very carefully but I do Indeed know that it isn't right that myself and other colleagues are in such a upset state all the time because of an employer. I have felt a duty to stay to support my colleagues the best I can until now. I know what I have to do but it is very hard to make that final decision. I am sure that they will eventually lose a good hardworking team. I have written everything down and have lots of email correspondence, even at 11pm of an evening this week with a unpleasant tone to them, despite my contracted hours ending at 5.30pm. I have plenty of documented evidence which I can print out for my records. Thank you for all your help. I am happy to close the question at this stage but will certainly ask for you again if the inevitable happens here. With kind regards ***** *****

No problem at all, best of luck and always happy to help int he future if needed