Case Studies

Case Studies

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Challenging if a redundancy proposal is being used as an excuse to dismiss

Published 24 June 2020

Most of us will have been in a position where financial concerns have caused our employer to review how it operates – and the impact of that can be extremely serious.

In Davina’s case she was told she would have to accept a £5,000 per year pay cut or face redundancy.

The media production manager had worked for her employer for about five years when she was told the business was in financial trouble, would be restructured and her role would no longer exist.

Shocked Davina made a reasonable request for information regarding the proposed change to the business and her role.

So, the following day when Davina was called into a meeting with her manager she was expecting to be provided with the information she had requested.

Instead she was informed that she was being suspend from work because a serious allegation had been made against her.

Davina was stunned and asked for more details, which were not provided.

She was told that the investigation was ongoing and additional information would be provided at a later date.

The highly dubious allegation was made clear two weeks later when Davina was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of making an inappropriate and offensive comment. She was warned dismissal was a potential outcome.

The allegation came from an incident in which Davina admittedly told a colleague she was ‘mad’ for doing a job in a certain way. That workmate did not complain.

But, the comment was overheard by a male colleague who felt it was inappropriate given that some employees suffered with mental health problems. His witness statement for the disciplinary case made it clear he just wanted Davina to be made aware of her use of language.

However, management claimed the comment breached the dignity at work policy and decided to act.

Davina contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help. She spoke to one of our representatives and explained the situation.

Following that conversation she was advised to submit a formal grievance. In summary the grounds for grievance was unfair treatment, which included a highly questionable disciplinary process being used to attempt to dismiss her because she was refusing to take a significant pay cut.

The grievance letter requested that the disciplinary process be suspended until after the grievance was resolved. The employer said it would hear both cases concurrently, which it is entitled to do.

Both the grievance and disciplinary hearing were scheduled to take place on the same day. The grievance was heard first.

Our representative had requested details of the proposed restructure beforehand. It included a role for a ‘production lead’, which was effectively Davina’s role with a new title.

At the grievance hearing our representative argued that as Davina’s job still existed the proposed redundancy was a sham being used to justify dismissing her for refusing to take a pay cut. The employer insisted the role was different and not the same.

The hearing was told  that based on the evidence there was not a genuine redundancy situation.

Our representative supported the assertion the business was trying to unfairly dismiss Davina by referring to the highly dubious disciplinary process and pointing out that based on the evidence an informal approach would have been appropriate.

A lengthy discussion took place about all issues. The company initiated an off the record conversation to discuss a possible settlement.

Davina told our representative in private that she would happily leave if she had enough money to do so. She discussed what she would need.

He requested details of what the company was considering. In a rare moment he was left speechless. The company proposed a financial payment, as part of a settlement agreement, that was in excess of what Davina hoped for. This is extremely rare.

Davina had no hesitation in accepting the offer. Over a month later she was fortunate enough to land a new job.

 

“A reputation built on success”

For free employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 0333 772 0611

A reputation built on success

For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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