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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I work for a Care company which is owned in equal share by

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I work for a Care company which is owned in equal share by both my mother and her business partner. Whilst my man was on holiday we received a letter from her business partner stating we needed to attend a meeting due to our conduct. This was very surprising as the business partner has been a silent partner for almost 5 years. We assumed it was about are wages as she had been in the office a couple of weeks prior asking for payroll and invoices, stating this was for the accountant, however we were aware that the accounts had already been done. We did however give her everything she requested as is her right due to her owning half of the business. With regards ***** ***** letter we contacted Acas who said due to are line manager being out of the country and the fact that she has been running the company solely for almost 5 years that we were within are right to wait until she returned home. My mam has now got a solicitor and is looking to buy out her business partner. However even though her business partner has been told numerous times that there is no foundation to her accusation which is now been confirmed as being based on wages including holiday and mileage expenses. She has still tried to suspend us and invited us to a disciplinary meeting. She is doing this outside of the company and using her own finances to fund this. She has also been informed by my mams solicitor that there is nothing in her accusations, however she is still continuing to contact us for meetings. I should state that we all have contracts which we work inline with however she does not know this as she hasn’t been in contact with my mam and is ignoring emails. Is there any advice you could give me for dealing with this as it is affecting working environment, as this is on everyone’s mind.

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

Hw long have the affected employees worked there for?

Customer: replied 30 days ago.
For Ben Jones myself and Emma have worked there for 10 years along with Shelly who has been there for 6 years
Customer: replied 30 days ago.
For Ben Jones, I should maybe also mention that we are all related Emma is my sister and Shelly’s our cousin.

Thank you. The other business partner will have a legal right to deal with any disciplinary issues of the company’s employees as they would technically be the employer as well.

However, as you all have more than 2 years’ service you will have certain rights, most notably protection against unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal. This means that if the employer is looking to potentially dismiss, they must show a fair reason for doing so and follow a fair procedure. Similarly, if they treat you unfairly, even if they do not dismiss, you are potentially able to leave if you cannot continue there and claim constructive dismissal.

As far as your legal rights when it comes to any potential disciplinary action, alleged misconduct is a common reason for taking disciplinary action against an employee. It could be either due to a single serious act of 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

In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, which can be incorporated into their own disciplinary policy. Altogether, it means that a fair disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:

1. Investigation – the employer must conduct a reasonable investigation first. This could include interviewing the employee or other witnesses who may have relevant information. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious or complex these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.

2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee can 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 legal right to be accompanied at the hearing by a trade union representative or a colleague.

3. Decision - following the disciplinary hearing and once the employer has had a chance to consider the employee’s response, they can make a decision on the outcome. If the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and formally sanction them.

4. Penalty – this has to be a sanction, which a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee is issued with a written warning for a first offence.

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the rights you have in the event of an unfair dismissal. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Customer: replied 30 days ago.
For Ben Jones, I understand that she also has rights for conducting a dismissal investigation, and our rights in regards ***** ***** However is that still the case when she is not following the company policy and procedures for carrying this out. She is querying the hours we have worked as she doesn’t actually know that we are contracted to the hours we are getting. Due to her none involvement in the company for the past 5 years.

This is where a reasonable investigation comes in and becomes very important - even if she has had no active involvement for 5 years, she can still investigate alleged misconduct and familiarise herself with the relevant issues during the investigatory stage. However, if that does not happen and an unfair decision is made, that is where your rights really kick in.

Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 29 days ago.
For Ben Jones, thank you for your help. One last thing is it ok that she is using her own finances to do this instead of going through the company. As it makes me feel like it is more personal than professional.
Customer: replied 29 days ago.
For Ben Jones, also is it normal that they want to record us?

I wouldn't say it is common for the employer to use personal finances for this, but it is not illegal. As to recording you, usually the employer would have someone take notes, rather than record you, but I have seen instances where the meetings have been recorded. Unless there is a contractual policy requiring you to consent to being recorded, you can refuse to

Customer: replied 29 days ago.
For Ben Jones, we have been asked to attend a disciplinary meeting on Monday. However we haven’t attended a investigatory meeting as when we told her that we were following Acas advice and asked if we could rearrange until our line manager returned who is also the company director. She said that the investigation meeting would still go ahead whether we attended or not. Is that right?

do you mean the disciplinary would go ahead?

Customer: replied 29 days ago.
Sorry no I mean is she able to hold an investigatory meeting with out us? As she declined to allow us to reschedule even though we gave what we thought was a valid reason that being training was already scheduled in the office and our line manager being on annual leave.
Customer: replied 29 days ago.
For Ben Jones, Sorry no I mean is she able to hold an investigatory meeting with out us? As she declined to allow us to reschedule even though we gave what we thought was a valid reason that being training was already scheduled in the office and our line manager being on annual leave.

depends what she was going to do at the investigatory meeting - if it was to interview you then she cannot realistically hold that part without you. But an investigatory is an opportunity to just do some fact finding, just to get some information about the situation. Try to attend still, even if your line manager is not there. In the end, if she messes up the procedure, you will have grounds to challenge any decision made which is unfair

Customer: replied 29 days ago.
For Ben Jones, the investigatory meeting has already taken place which was suppose to be to interview us, which didn’t happen due to us not attending. Obviously our manager is back now and has contacted her partner, by email stating there is no justification for her investigation as we work in line with our contracts however she isn’t responding to our manager. Obviously their relationship has broken down and they are now going through a solicitor but what do we do if our manager who knows exactly what we get paid and our contracts says one thing and her business partner is still wanting us to attend a disciplinary, even though she has been informed there is nothing to investigate?

Both will have equal powers to deal with this, as they are technically the employer under law. In the end it will come down to what decision is made, whether a fair procedure was followed and if there was a fair reason for taking that decision. I explained what is legally required above so you will have to see what happens over time and once you know the final outcome, you can consider whether it was all done fairly or not and if not - you will have legal rights to challenge that decision