When failure to make a good early impression threatens your job security.
Published 03 October 2018
There was good reason for Reece to fear the worse when he was asked to attend a probation review meeting.
His employer was claiming his probation period had been extended twice previously and dismissal was a possible outcome to the meeting.
Reece had worked at his local health centre for just 17 months. As he had less than two years’ service he would not have a case for unfair dismissal if his contract was terminated.
Concerns about his performance included: unsatisfactory standards of work, poor documentation and making repeated mistakes.
Reece, who has dyslexia, was understandably concerned and he contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help.
When our representative reviewed the evidence she had a number of concerns, which she raised immediately with the employer.
Our representative also requested information from the health centre, which included its probation policy, all documents relating to the previous probation reviews, Reece’s training record, details of any support or reasonable adjustments to support him with his dyslexia.
When that information was provided by email our representative was alarmed by the lack of support that Reece had received. She felt this had put him at a disadvantage during his probation period, especially as the concerns were related to his reading and writing skills.
After discussing the matter with Reece a formal grievance was submitted on his behalf.
The grounds for the grievance included disability discrimination based on the employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments to support Reece with his dyslexia, which can be considered a disability. It also included the fact the employer had failed to follow its own probation policy and that Reece was being treated unfairly.
Our representative asked for the probation review meeting to be postponed until after the grievance was heard, investigated and resolved given the implications it could have on that process.
The health centre manager initially refused to hear the grievance. He responded and said that having considered the concerns raised he was dismissing them as they were unfounded. Our representative said this was unfair and illogical without first hearing the grievance.
She also pointed out that in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice an employee should be given an opportunity to explain their grievance. The health centre’s own grievance policy also stated that the procedure, and right to a grievance hearing, applied regardless of an employee’s length of service.
There was a subsequent exchange of correspondence between our representative and the employer, and it eventually agreed to hear the grievance.
At the grievance hearing our representative highlighted that the health centre was aware that Reece was dyslexic from the start of his employment. He declared it when asked to do a written test during the recruitment stage.
Our representative also emphasised the notes from previous probation reviews in which Reece made it clear his biggest struggles were with reading and writing, the lack of support and the attitude of colleagues to documentation and written work he was producing. The evidence showed that no action had been taken to address the concerns.
In addition to this our representative pointed out that Reece’s employment contract said his employment was subject to a three-month probation period, and no notable concerns were ever raised in that period.
She told the hearing that when Reece was first informed his probation would extended, he had been working at the health centre for seven months – and it was four months after the probation period stated in his contract had actually ended. It was asserted that this along with other points highlighted during the hearing demonstrated the unfavourable manner in which Reece had been treated.
Reece’s desired outcome to the grievance was to continue working at the health centre with the right support in place. The employer agreed that it would provide support with his dyslexia and it decided not to go ahead with the probation review.
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