A prescribed outcome to address any ill feeling caused by a disciplinary process.
Published 16 February 2023
Retail assistant Fred would be the first to say he was ‘old school’ and if he had a job to do he would do it no matter what.
He was not one to complain. But Fred had no choice when poor health left him facing a disciplinary hearing with the threat of dismissal.
Fred had for quite a while been experiencing unexplained problems with his vision, balance, mobility and tingling and numbness in parts of his body. It had forced him to have several absences from work.
The condition was affecting all aspects of his life. Medical investigations and treatment were ongoing.
It was the decision to raise a formal grievance, which ultimately saved Fred’s job and allowed him to continue working.
When Fred submitted the grievance to bosses of the mobile phone shop where he had worked for five years, he was facing disciplinary action for poor performance.
Disheartened Fred felt his manager was unsupportive, overly critical and belittling. This was despite her being informed and fully aware of his physical problems.
Fred was left questioning his own competency to do the job.
He felt enough was enough when he was invited by letter to attend a disciplinary hearing with his unsupportive manager.
The letter warned dismissal was a potential outcome to the meeting. The allegation was simply listed as underperformance in the last 12 months.
No specific details or evidence of poor performance were provided. The allegation was being dealt with under the disciplinary procedure because the employer did not have a dedicated performance management policy.
Fred contacted our Employee Support Centre for help. He discussed his case with our representative.
He was obviously keen to understand more about Fred’s health and what the employer knew.
Fred was able to provide evidence from an occupational health report, emails and return to work interviews after absences to show his employer was fully aware of his health problems.
That information helped to demonstrate the company had that knowledge for over 12 months. This would be significant.
Our representative felt it provided evidence to support Fred may have a disability in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
One report from the GP suggested the symptoms were similar to those with Multiple Sclerosis. The condition is automatically recognised as a disability under the Equality Act.
The inevitable impact of Fred’s poor health on his performance was felt by our representative to be undeniable.
He discussed with Fred the idea of raising a grievance on grounds that included discrimination because of a medical condition, which can be considered a disability.
Fred was initially reluctant, did not want to make a fuss, wanted to continue working with some understanding and support and be allowed to move to a store nearer his home.
Our representative discussed how the grievance may enable him to achieve this. Fred agreed to submit a grievance.
The grievance requested the disciplinary process be suspended, which is possible in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice and in certain situations. The employer agreed to do so.
At the grievance hearing our representative asserted the disciplinary process should be reviewed and stopped.
He explained this was because it could be considered discriminatory. It was based on the fact the employer knew about Fred’s health, and the disciplinary action being taken had direct links to his health which without a doubt impacted on his performance.
The hearing was told Fred’s health could be considered a disability because of the substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
The evidence to show the business was aware of Fred’s health was presented to the grievance hearing chair.
Fred’s ideal grievance outcome, which was to move store, receive meaningful support and for the disciplinary case to be scrapped was explained.
Following the grievance hearing Fred later got everything he wished for in his desired grievance outcome.