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Case Studies

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The unexpected outcome in a disciplinary case where the figures did not add up

Published 07 March 2018

When Joel was accused of performing badly at work he expected to be sacked.

Joel was working in advertising sales and allegedly failing to hit targets. When he first met our representative he apologised for wasting her time as he was convinced he was going to be dismissed.

However, our representative believed that if he was fired, based on the evidence she had reviewed and what he had told her, it would be an unfair dismissal.

Joel accepted that in the six months prior to the disciplinary hearing his performance had been affected by matters outside of work.

He had fainted unexpectedly on a number of occasions and been referred to a hospital for further tests. Joel also took time off to visit his younger sister, who lives abroad, and was left fighting for life after being injured in a car accident. His sister remained in a coma when he had to fly back to the UK.

During a subsequent one-to-one the sales director raised concerns about Joel’s performance and sales figures. Joel said he was finding work difficult with ongoing concerns about his health and constant worry about his sister. Joel signed a copy of notes that the director wrote at this meeting

Joel was shocked when nearly five weeks later he received a letter to attend a disciplinary hearing. The allegation was that his failure to achieve the company’s performance expectations was in breach of the company’s disciplinary procedure. The letter warned that one possible outcome could be dismissal.

After receiving the letter Joel went off sick and was diagnosed with work-related stress, and signed off work for four weeks. However, his employer insisted it was going to go ahead with the disciplinary hearing during this period.

Worried Joel contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help and explained that he did not feel well enough to attend the hearing.

Our representative contacted the company on behalf of Joel and asked to change the disciplinary hearing date, but the employer initially refused to do so.

It was asserted by our representative that this was a reasonable request in the circumstances, and if the company refused to change the date then Joel will submit a formal grievance as the intention to proceed in his absence was unfair. The company eventually agreed to change the date of the hearing.

Prior to the hearing our representative requested the performance management policy from the company, and any evidence to support the allegations.

At the hearing she used the performance management policy to argue that if the company had concerns about Joel’s performance these should have been addressed in accordance with that policy, which has a number of stages to go through before performance concerns become a disciplinary matter.

She also maintained that in failing to consider Joel’s health concerns or refer him for an occupational health assessment it can be argued the company failed in its duty of care and did not consider a significant factor that would undoubtedly have impacted on his performance.

In addition to this, the only evidence produced to justify concerns about Joel’s performance was the signed meeting notes from the one-to-one meeting he had with the sales director.

Our representative argued that in failing to provide evidence and figures to justify any concerns about Joel’s performance, the company had failed to provide evidence to support the allegations, and this was a breach of the ACAS Code of Practice.

Despite eventually being cleared of the allegation Joel had understandably lost trust and confidence in his employer due to the way in which he had been treated.

Prior to the hearing Joel was also offered a new job, which he accepted. Our representative helped him to negotiate a settlement agreement in order so that he could leave with immediate effect.

 

 

 

 

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