The hard work in getting an employer to rethink unfair restructuring plans
Such has been the financial climate in the past decade that there are likely to be employees who have been through more than one redundancy process with the same employer.
Quality and delivery administrator Heidi, who had 15 years’ service, was one such employee. In fact she had been through the process twice previously when her employer announced that employees would once again be facing redundancy.
When Heidi was called into her manager’s office and told by her female boss that she was going to do Heidi a huge favour, she did not know what to expect.
Firstly, she reassured Heidi that although the company had been made aware of some inappropriate text messages she had sent to a colleague, she had nothing to worry about.
Heidi was told that the messages were considered a breach of the company’s code of conduct. She was told that the normal course of action would be to arrange a formal disciplinary hearing to deal with the matter.
The news was a shock to Heidi who could not recall sending any inappropriate text messages. She, understandably, queried when the messages were sent, who to and what they said?
The manager said she could not provide any further information at that stage, but if there is a need for a disciplinary investigation then Heidi would obviously get full details. Then that favour that Heidi’s manager referred to.
The manager informed Heidi that the company was going to announce restructuring plans and the need for redundancies later that week. Heidi was told that if she volunteered and took the statutory redundancy payment then no action would be taken in relation to the text messages.
Heidi was told the payment would be made as part of a settlement agreement, which she would have to sign. And, that if she refused the offer she was likely to be dismissed because of the text messages.
Heidi discussed the matter with her husband, and he told her to email her manager, documenting what had been discussed and to refuse the offer. Heidi did so, but she got no response.
The redundancies were announced and staff, including Heidi, were invited to consultation meetings. Heidi was handed a letter after her first consultation meeting. When she later opened it, she discovered it contained an invite to a disciplinary hearing.
The allegation was one of making inappropriate and offensive comments about a former colleague, before the worker was dismissed for poor performance.
Heidi had sent text messages to a colleague that were critical of their ex workmate. The worse of the messages included the use of the f-word to express frustration at having to correct mistakes and at how the ex-colleague always seemed to get away with things.
Heidi contacted the Castle Associate Employee Support Centre for help. After a discussion about the case with our representative, Heidi said she felt as if she was being unfairly forced out.
She said she now wanted to leave because of how she had been treated, but the statutory redundancy pay was not enough to help her meet her financial commitments if she did not get another job straight away.
Given the unfair manner in which Heidi had been treated, it was decided to submit a formal grievance on her behalf.
Following this there was then an exchange of correspondence and telephone discussions between our representative and the company’s HR manager. An off the record meeting covered by Section 111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 was then arranged to see if an agreement could be reached for Heidi to leave the business.
At the meeting a full and frank discussion took place. After further discussions and negotiation, a settlement was eventually agreed. It resulted in Heidi receiving more than the statutory redundancy payment.
The case had a very happy ending. A fortnight after signing the agreement Heidi was offered a job by one of her former directors, and she accepted it.
“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