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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I was wondering where I stand with my employer on an issue

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Hi, I was wondering where I stand with my employer on an issue regarding leaving a watsapp group created by the company that only admin can put messages on. I left the group after the CEO put on a message, he then privately messaged me asking if me leaving the group was me handed in my resignation which I replied no and he is now trying to put me through a disciplinary. The HR lady has asked me to Join a zoom meeting with her the CEO my manager and a director of the company. Do I have to go on this zoom meeting or do I wait for an official letter to say I have a disciplinary meeting. thanks
JA: Have you discussed the disciplinary action with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I haven’t discussed it with anyone other than this conversation. My manager and the HR lady are both meant to be in the zoom call, but it is titled meeting with then the CEO’s name. Not disciplinary meeting
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am a full time employee and I am not part of a union
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No that’s all the has happened I just wanted to know where I now stand as I feel they are trying to get rid of me or make me feel like I can’t work there now, the CEO also removed me from the other company chat. Thanks

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay thank you

So why did you actually leave the group? and what was the purpose of it? Please also tell me how long you have worked for this employer

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have worked at the company for 3 years, the purpose of the group to my knowledge was to share pictures on jobs completed as it’s an events company. I left the group because the CEO put this message on the group.. All. It is quite staggering that certain employees feel it necessary to gossip about our internal affairs. It has come to my attention that despite my repeated requests one or two of you seem incapable of following these guidelines. So, for the avoidance of doubt, I will treat any of these lapses as gross misconduct which will likely result in your dismissal if proven. The dignity shown by those at risk should be recognised and their privacy respected. I will be taking action and will not tolerate any further lapses. Do not, under any circumstances, discuss our current situation or staff changes with anyone outside of the company. Anyone who does not understand this directive or feels unable to follow it, feel free to hand me your resignation!As the company are making redundancy’s at the minute but as there are 2 sites they have told 1 site who is getting made redundant but haven’t told the other site yet and someone has told someone from the other site

Thank you. Leave it with me for now, although please note it is extremely busy at present due to the ongoing situation so there may be a delay in replying, but I will get back to you at some point today. Please do not reply in the meantime. Many thanks

Can I just check what the disciplinary is about?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They haven’t said this all happened last night I haven’t received a letter just this from the CEO in a private message..
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Then this
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I then got an invite to a zoom meeting at 830pm last night for a zoom call at 10am today with HR lady my manager a director and the CEO
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Should I go on the zoom call or wait for a letter for a disciplinary?

Is the zoom call the official disciplinary?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They haven’t said just says meeting with CEO and the invitees on the call

Ok if it is happening now do you want to wait until after it has finished?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I haven’t gone on the call yet
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Didn’t know if it would be accepting a disciplinary or something

In some ways it would be good if you did as the employer may be shooting themselves in the foot for rushing the process through.

I presume the disciplinary would be for you taking yourself off the group which they claim is an official channel of communication. Perhaps muting it may have been better in the circumstances so your actions could potentially amount to insubordination. But don ‘t worry too much as it should result in nothing more than a warning – I do not see this being serious enough for dismissal.

As far as the procedure to be followed, 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 (they could join in on the call)

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?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have just received this after not going on the call
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Would it be worth contacting the HR lady to find out what the call is about and the ‘behaviour’ they are describing or just go on the call

They say it is just an investigatory meeting so you do not need to be told in advance exactly what it is about – it is best to attend and see what they have to say.

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thank you very much
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Quick question is there a limit to how many people should be in an investigation meeting?

Not legally, no, it is up to the employer really

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I am going to go the zoom call at 3pm but is what being said accurate that not going on the call can be seen as a gross misconduct offence? Thanks

Potentially it can, unless you have good reasons not to (e.g. being off sick, or there being a formal grievance for a related matter which is still being investigated).

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, I had my call which I recorded I have now received a disciplinary meeting could you look through it and see where I go now. The CEO also headed the investigation meeting even though the matter was about him.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Statement 1
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Disciplinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Statement 2
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Statement 3
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I can’t send the recording through here

Hi, looking at all these documents will not be included under the original fees for a basic chat I’m afraid. You can post a new query for that please