Facing the wrath of the boss for complaining about poor working conditions
Published 19 September 2018
Hot weather can cause employees to get hot under the collar and inflame already tense situations.
The recent hot spell will no doubt have brought back bad memories for Clint. He was working in a Derbyshire-based workshop when he was overcome by fumes and collapsed on what was one of the hottest days of that year. He was taken to hospital and later discharged the same day.
Clint was in good health, had no history of collapsing, had long complained about poor ventilation in the workshop and the company exposing staff to harm.
Upon his return to work Clint was invited to discuss his concerns with one of the directors of the business. The director claimed Clint may have suffered a reaction to a new solvent being used in the workshop, he insisted working conditions were fine and claimed Clint was blowing the matter out of proportion.
Clint maintained ventilation in the workshop was a concern and as it was summertime, the problem was only going to get worse, as it always did at that time of year, if nothing was done.
At this point Clint said voices were raised before the director told him to get out and that he was sacked for insubordination. Clint argued back and claimed it was unfair dismissal and illegal. The director told him to sue the company if he did not like it.
The following day Clint got a call from the HR manager, who claimed there had been a breakdown in communication. Clint was informed that he was in fact suspended from work for failing to complete jobs on time and concerns about his quality of work.
Clint refuted the allegations, which he insisted were concocted just to get rid of him.
The HR manager told him suspension was necessary to allow the company to carry out a disciplinary investigation.
Clint believed the outcome was inevitable, as a former colleague who complained of poor working conditions was later dismissed because of his timekeeping.
Clint raised a formal grievance asserting he was suffering unfavourable treatment for being a whistle-blower after raising health and safety concerns. The company acknowledged the grievance.
Three days later, without Clint ever being invited to attend a grievance hearing, the company sent him a letter in the post stating it had investigated the grievance and it had been rejected. In the same envelope was a letter inviting Clint to a disciplinary hearing for failing to complete jobs on time and repeatedly producing poor work.
Clint contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help. Our representative was appalled at the way Clint had been treated after raising a legitimate health and safety issue.
Our representative contacted the company to complain and express concern about its failure to hear the grievance and the lack of evidence and detail to support the allegations, both of which breached the ACAS Code of Practice.
Clint justifiably felt aggrieved by the way he had been treated and he no longer wanted to work for the business. It can often signal an irreparable breakdown in the working relationship when an employee has unwarranted and unjustified allegations levelled against them.
There was an exchange of email correspondence and phone calls between our representative and the HR manager prior to the scheduled disciplinary hearing.
The company then invited Clint and our representative to have an ‘off the record’ conversation covered by Section 111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The law allows an employer and an employee to have an ‘off-the-record’ conversation if an employee or employer is proposing to end the working relationship.
Clint was happy to have the conversation as he had contemplated resignation. Following the meeting a suitable settlement agreement was agreed, which allowed Clint to leave with a clean disciplinary record, financial payment and guarantee of a reference.
Clint stayed in touch with his former colleagues. Not long after leaving he was informed that the company was carrying out work to address the matters he had long complained about.
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