Left fearing the worse after admitting disciplinary allegations
Published 14 November 2018
There are times when employees are facing disciplinary action having admitted serious wrongdoing and the outcome looks bleak.
Our representatives are experts in presenting the mitigating factors that should be considered, and which can help an employee’s case in such circumstances.
This was the case with Natasha after she left work without permission on two separate occasions in one week. She did so for two hours on one occasion and on the other she left work over three hours early.
Surprisingly these incidents were never raised at the time. They only came to light when a male colleague at the catering company where she worked was reprimanded for leaving work early.
He reportedly threatened to raise a formal grievance for being singled out because Natasha got away with it the week before.
Management reviewed records from Natasha’s swipe card, for entering and leaving the site, and she was asked to explain the two dates.
Natasha initially claimed the data was wrong. When the manager said he would check CCTV, Natasha then said that she left because she was seriously ill on both occasions.
The manager was dissatisfied with Natasha’s explanations and she was suspended from work.
When Natasha was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing she faced two allegations of leaving work without permission. She was warned the allegations if proven will amount to gross misconduct and dismissal was a possible outcome.
Prior to the disciplinary hearing Natasha emailed her manager, admitted the allegations, explained she understood the consequences of her actions and apologised.
Her manager advised her to explain her case at the disciplinary hearing and encouraged her to ask a suitable companion to attend the disciplinary hearing with her.
Natasha asked a work colleague who she trusted. She suggested that Natasha should contact the Castle Associates employee support centre, which her sister did when she had a similar issue at work.
When our representative spoke to Natasha she explained the problems she had been having at the time of the two incidents. She said she was not truthful at first because she was scared and taken by surprise by the allegations.
At the hearing our representative presented the mitigating factors on behalf of Natasha. At the time her ex-husband had taken their two young children on holiday and he was refusing to return them to her.
He made a series of threats, alleged that she was a bad mother and said he would inform the authorities if she challenged him. He sent her a number of threatening messages just before the two incidents.
The messages were shown to the disciplinary hearing chair. The impact they had on Natasha and her vulnerability was explained. Natasha had a history of depression, which the company was aware of.
The hearing was told that on the two occasions Natasha went missing from work she was scared, did not think she could not tell anyone what was happening and felt suicidal. She later sought help from her GP, who provided a letter of support for the disciplinary hearing.
At the same time Natasha was also heavily in debt, had received a number of final demands and feared losing her home.
The mental and emotional anguish she was experiencing at the time were presented as significant contributory factors that caused her to act out of character. Natasha’s exemplary work record during her five years with the company was presented as evidence of her normal conduct and professionalism.
The email that Natasha sent to her manager prior to the hearing was highlighted as evidence of her showing remorse and taking significant learning from what happened.
The hearing chair was fair and sympathetic. He did verbally reprimand Natasha for not telling the company what was going on. He then sought to discover what the company could do to help. He said that given the exceptional circumstances of the case he was issuing Natasha with a verbal warning about her future conduct.
With support and advice from her employer Natasha quickly had the children returned to her and took positive steps to address her financial problems.
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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