Finding the right formula to correct a poor disciplinary outcome
Published 22 June 2022
Ambitious Danny’s career appeared to be in ruins at the age of just 24 when he was fired from his dream job after making mistakes.
The laboratory worker was considered dishonest and found to have failed to perform his duties to a satisfactory standard.
Devastated Danny admitted making the mistakes, and was distraught when he contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help to see what he could salvage from the situation.
Where a serious allegation/s is considered proven, emphasis on mitigating factors and scrutiny of the fairness of the disciplinary process can be vital in getting an employee a favourable appeal outcome.
Danny had submitted a disciplinary appeal when he first met with our representative to discuss his case.
It was clear from the evidence the mitigation in the case had not been given reasonable consideration and the disciplinary process had been unfair.
Danny had a strong case to assert that his disciplinary outcome amounted to an unfair dismissal.
Prior to any appeal hearing it is important to establish and understand an employee’s desired outcome.
Danny initially wanted to be reinstated. The job was ideal for him, one he envisaged getting later in his career, it was local and came with a very generous salary.
But upon reflection and following further discussions with our representative, and prior to the appeal hearing, Danny changed his mind.
Danny felt that based on the witness evidence provided by his manager, which he maintained was inaccurate and misleading in parts, he could not return to the workplace.
He was keen, therefore, to be able to move on with his career but felt that having a dismissal on his record would harm his attempt to do so.
In the circumstances and given what Danny hoped to achieve from the appeal it was agreed a settlement agreement would be ideal.
At the appeal hearing our representative asserted the decision to dismiss was extremely harsh and unjust based on the evidence and that a fair process was not followed.
Particular focus was on the mitigation in the presentation of Danny’s appeal and the fact it should have meant a sanction less than dismissal was imposed.
The mitigation included reference to information and evidence requested by our representative from the employer prior to the appeal hearing.
The mitigation included gaps in Danny’s training record; documented concerns raised with his manager about his excessive workload being ignored; being advised by the same manager and shown how to do sampling in a way now deemed incorrect; and the lack of evidence to support he had deleted data, which resulted in the allegation of dishonesty.
In addition to this it was explained that work-related matters had caused Danny considerable stress and anxiety, which the company knew about for a while. It was said this had inevitably impacted on his performance.
The lack of support for Danny and resultant failure in an employer’s duty of care were highlighted as issues the disciplinary hearing also failed to consider.
It was pointed out the disciplinary process breached the ACAS Code of Practice. Danny had not been provided with several pieces of the evidence used to justify his dismissal.
The appeal hearing was told a tribunal will consider the Code and could award a 25 per cent uplift in any compensation should Danny make a successful claim for unfair dismissal.
While the company did not openly concede any of the points raised in support of the appeal it was happy to discuss a settlement agreement.
Most of the terms of the agreement were agreed quickly with the sticking point being the financial payment Danny wanted.
The employer’s counter offer was considerably lower than what he wanted. After a period of negotiation the employer’s offer was increased.
Although it was not the amount Danny originally asked for, he was happy with it and the agreement was later signed off.