We’ve probably all made bad decisions…unless you’re in denial or of exemplary character in which case you may at least have been on the receiving end of one.
At work such decisions by a manager can often lead to disciplinary hearings that leave an employee facing a desperate battle to save their job.
Recruitment consultant Susie would be the first to admit that when she found herself in this position, she was not performing at her best.
When a new manager starts to question your performance it can be unnerving. Susie felt the criticism was unfair and continued to try her best.
She faced constant digs and jibes from her boss, which left Susie feeling undermined, humiliated and helpless.
Susie discussed it with a female colleague. Her workmate suggested she should raise a formal grievance if she felt unfairly picked on.
Susie felt uncomfortable with the idea as she thought it would make things even worse. However, the situation did not improve and the level of criticism Susie faced intensified.
She was warned by her male boss during a one-to-one that such was his level of concern he was now considering starting the performance management process.
Susie was distraught and broke down and admitted she had been struggling due to personal problems.
Over a year earlier Susie was treated for depression and off work for a number of months. She explained to her boss that she had recently sought medical attention again as a result of unfair pressure she felt under at work.
In addition to this her younger sister was fighting for her life abroad and Susie was unable to travel to see her as she had huge debts and could not afford to do so. The company was aware of the situation with her sister.
Her boss expressed little sympathy, informed her of what he expected and said if she felt ill she should take some time off. Susie called in sick the following day, and she was off for six weeks.
Upon her return she was called into her manager’s office and handed a letter inviting her to a formal disciplinary hearing
The allegation was that despite repeated warnings and support Susie had failed to achieve the company’s performance expectations and it was a breach of the company’s disciplinary procedure.
The letter inviting Susie to the hearing warned that dismissal was a possible outcome. Worried Susie contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help.
In preparation for the disciplinary hearing our representative requested additional information from the employer. This included its performance management policy, Susie’s appraisals, notes from one-to-one meetings with her manager; details of training and support provided to her after performance concerns were raised.
At the hearing our representative argued that it was unfair to use the disciplinary process to address performance concerns. The company had an established, recognised and clear performance management policy, which should have been used. The fact it was not meant Susie justifiably felt victimised.
He used the evidence he requested to demonstrate she had not been supported, provided with additional training or had structured reviews put in place to monitor progress. Our representative highlighted previous appraisals showing Susie had been performing well, and to assert that the impact of her health and personal circumstances should be taken into account as mitigating factors when considering her performance.
The disciplinary hearing chair was very fair, and he accepted that the matter should have been handled differently. He put this down to Susie’s manager being new to the business, making a bad decision and being unfamiliar with established procedures.
He cleared Susie of any wrongdoing and made a personal pledge to help her to go and visit her sister, who later made a full recovery.
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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