Case Studies

Case Studies

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Getting the right message after some bad disciplinary news

Published 23 January 2019

It is often said that a manager should lead by example but they are only human and they can make terrible mistakes.

When Sian’s manager reacted in the wrong way to her failure to respond to his telephone calls, voice and text messages, the consequences were devastating for her.

Sian, who had worked in business development for five years at the time, was sacked via email.

This was after she was suspended from work for alleged poor performance.

Sian was distraught at being suspended, felt unwell and visited her GP immediately. She was signed off sick after being diagnosed with work-related stress.

The following day Sian submitted her fit note to her manager via email. He replied later the same day notifying Sian she was required to attend a disciplinary hearing.

The allegation was one of poor performance despite support being provided. The message informed Sian that the hearing would take place in two days’ time and dismissal was a potential outcome.

Sian replied to say she did not feel well enough to attend and the short notice meant she did not have enough time to arrange to be accompanied to the hearing.

The manager then made a number of phone calls to Sian and sent text messages. Sian later admitted that she ignored the calls and messages because she felt unwell, vulnerable, isolated and afraid.

Later that same day she received an email from the manager. The message said if she did not attend the hearing he would conduct it in her absence and make a decision.

He said this was because he was on leave the day after the date scheduled for the hearing, and he would be off work for three weeks.

Sian did not respond to the email and she received no further communication from her employer. A couple of weeks later she was paid as normal and when her fit note expired she submitted a new one.

Ten weeks after she was suspended Sian received an email from her manager, which was headed disciplinary outcome.

The message said the disciplinary hearing had taken place in her absence, the day before the date on the email. This was because she had refused to attend or respond to previous attempts to contact her.

The email said the decision had therefore been taken to dismiss Sian, but she had the right to appeal.

Sian contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help with an appeal.

She was unsure what she had to do for an appeal and our representative explained the disciplinary appeals process to her. He submitted an appeal letter on her behalf. The grounds for appeal were that the decision and process were grossly unfair.

Sian understandably had lost all trust and confidence in the company, but wanted to clear her name and leave. Our representative explained that in the circumstances a settlement agreement may be her best option. Sian said that would be her preferred outcome.

At the appeal hearing our representative imitated a conversation with the employer about a settlement. To its credit the company admitted during the off the record conversation that the process had been badly handled.

It was agreed at the time that Sian would be paid her notice period, for her outstanding leave and guaranteed a reference. Agreement could not be reached at the time on the amount of a tax free lump sum payment as the company had offered less than what Sian was prepared to accept.

The appeal hearing was adjourned and it was agreed that discussions would continue. Negotiations continued in the days after between our representative and the company.

An agreement was eventually reached when the company agreed to increase the lump sum payment, and to meet Sian just over halfway between what she had initially proposed and what it had originally offered.

“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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