Justice prevails after police intervention leads to workplace problem
Published 18 June 2020
Being arrested for a criminal offence and admitting wrongdoing can have serious repercussions for an employee.
Jonah did not tell his employer that he had been arrested for leaving his child home alone – and that he admitted doing it.
His employer was furious after learning about it from another employee Jonah had confided in.
The company quickly arranged a Section 111A meeting with Jonah, who had worked for the business for eight years.
This type of ‘off the record’ meeting is generally held with a view to bring the working relationship to an amicable end.
During the meeting Jonah admitted what had happened, but said he was prevented from explaining to the company the reasons why.
He said he was told to resign or be dismissed for not declaring the conviction and for bringing the company into disrepute.
Jonah was told he could leave immediately, will be provided with a standard reference and be paid his notice period.
He protested, said he was struggling financially, his wife was unwell, his mental health was suffering and he could not afford to leave on those terms.
After rejecting the proposal Jonah was shocked to be told that he was suspended from work. The company said it would be in touch about what will happen next.
After nearly a month on suspension, and asking for updates and being ignored, Jonah was still waiting to hear what would happen next.
Jonah had suffered for many years with depression and the worry, uncertainty and stress caused by the situation exacerbated his symptoms.
Desperate Jonah contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help.
He explained to our representative what had happened and the circumstances that led to him being arrested and issued with a caution.
At the time Jonah’s wife was in hospital, he was struggling to cope, suffering poor mental health and caring for their four-year-old child.
He left the child at home to go to the local shop to get food and a passer-by alerted by the child crying called the police.
Jonah admitted it was an error of judgment and fully accepted he had done wrong. Other agencies were involved as it was an incident regarding a child’s safety.
Our representative discovered from Jonah that his employer was aware that he had suffered with depression. This coupled with a failure in the employer’s duty of care, in leaving a vulnerable employee in limbo for nearly a month, led to Jonah raising a formal grievance.
The grounds for grievance included, but were not limited to, unfair treatment and disability discrimination.
A depressive disorder that has lasted for over 12 months can be considered a disability in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
Jonah had lost trust and confidence in his employer. His desired outcome was to leave the company if he had enough money to get through the coming few months, because he would then have another job to go to.
The employer arranged a grievance hearing. At the hearing our representative raised concerns about the lack of support for Jonah with what can be considered a disability.
This included the employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments during his employment, provide effective support, the unfair and unjustified attempt to end his contract, him being suspended and left in limbo and the serious and damaging impact work-related matters had on his mental health.
The hearing was also told that a police caution was not a criminal conviction and there was nothing in company policy, which said he had to declare it.
The grievance hearing chair was at first combative and defensive of the company. She did, however, eventually accept our representative’s assertion, that an agreement to end the working relationship would be best for both parties.
Following discussion and negotiation a settlement agreement was reached.
Jonah received a five-figure tax free lump sum, payment for his notice period and outstanding holiday leave.
His mental health later improved and a few months after signing the agreement he did get the job that he expected.
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