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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 62544
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My husband has just been accused of theft and suspended from

Customer Question

Hi my husband has just been accused of theft and suspended from his job. they haven't shown him the evidence and suspended him without telling him for how long and just presuming his guilt. When he contacted his boss today to arrange a meeting to discuss he was told not to bother aruging his case.
JA: Has your husband discussed the accusation with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: There is no HR department. He was pulled in after a 13 hour shift at the end of he day and the accusations were thrown at him with a presumption of guilt. and immediate suspension
JA: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: No. I have suggested he join a Union to get some support but not sure if it's too late to do that. They have agency workers who come in. It is a logistics firm.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Just that my husband is going in today to try and have a meeting with the owner. He wants to resign as he is so upset and his integrity has been called into question. He has worked there for 9 years with an unblemished record.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

What has the employer based the accusation on?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

and what is your specific query in relation to this please?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
He says he has a tracker of my husband going down to Maidenhead and hat a pallet of salt has gone missing
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

So did your husband go to Maidenhead with a pallet of salt?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I have paid the money but I can't speak to him on the phone? We need to speak to someone urgently
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
My husband reguarly moves salt pallets out of the warehouse for various reasons. He also goes down to Maidenhead as this is part of his route - he works around Maidenhead/High Wycombe etc. He is being accused of taking a pallet of salt out of the warehouse (he does this as part of his job) and they are saying as a pallet has gone missing it is him. We don't know because they haven't shown him the evidence. He was pulled into a meeting after a 13 hour shift. Told he was suspended and that he had commited theft. He wasn't told how long he was suspended for or shown the evidence and there was an assumption of guilt. When he spoke to the owner of the company today to ask for a meeting he got told not to bother.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
We dont' think that they have followed due process and we dont' see how there can be a fair investigation if there is an automatic assumption of guilt. We think that this will constitute unfair dismissal and we wanted your advice.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

Thank you. I will get back to you on this initial thread at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

Many thanks for your patience. Legally, 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.

On the other hand, if the investigation does not find enough evidence to justify a disciplinary, the employer should terminate the suspension immediately and allow the employee to return to work as normal.

In terms of what follows next, 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:

{C}· Conducts a reasonable investigation

{C}· Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and

{C}· 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.

In summary, the requirements of proof are not as stringent as in criminal law and an employer is not expected to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had met the above criteria, namely conducting a reasonable investigation, following a fair procedure and holding a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was one that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.

If there is evidence that the employer has not followed a fair procedure as outlined above, a grievance can be submitted to the employer to formally complain about these issues. If a decision has already been taken 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 termination.

Does this answer your query?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Could you please let me know if it has answered your original question? You can simply reply on here with a quick ‘Yes, thanks’ and I won’t bother you again. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

Hello, not sure if you are having trouble seeing my posts? I have not heard back from you since posting my answer and just need to know if your query has been resolved. If you could please post a quick reply to confirm I would be very grateful. Thank you