When those doing the hiring make a mess of the process of firing an employee
Published 03 May 2023
It was clear from the outset the decision to sack Grace on the spot for failing to hit targets was unfair – but resolving the matter was not exactly straightforward.
The recruitment consultant was dismissed after three years’ service for what was said to be her poor performance.
It came as a complete shock to Grace who had been given no indication her performance was ever a concern.
The timing of her dismissal, for good reason, was also worrying.
Rumours of redundancy were rife at the time. Two other employees had also been dismissed in quick succession, in dubious circumstances.
Grace protested the decision to dismiss her was unfair, as she was never notified of any performance concerns and a fair and proper process had not been conducted.
However, she said her manager and a HR advisor maintained the decision was fair and final.
Grace explained that she was told in no uncertain terms, if she did not accept it she would not get her notice pay and a £1,500 goodwill payment the business was prepared to give her.
Furious Grace rejected the offer. Her dismissal for poor performance was later confirmed in writing.
The letter said the decision had been taken following a ‘disciplinary hearing.’
That hearing was said to have taken place on the day Grace had the meeting with her manager and the HR advisor.
Grace was devastated by the manner in which she had been treated, and was convinced it amounted to an unfair dismissal.
It was a view shared by our representative who first spoke to Grace when she contacted our Employee Support Centre.
Grace was adamant she had never been given any indication her performance was a concern.
She asserted it was supported by the fact her employer had a performance management process, which had never been utilised.
Grace spoke to our representative about her options because she was convinced that she could not challenge the decision.
The letter that confirmed her dismissal did not include details regarding how Grace could appeal.
Grace first contacted us just over a week after her dismissal. The following day our representative made contact with the employer to notify it that Grace wished to submit a disciplinary appeal.
The employer insisted Grace had lost the right to appeal as she did not submit it within five working days, in accordance with company policy.
Our representative highlighted she was not informed of the right to appeal, as she should have been. Initially this made little difference.
Following email and telephone exchanges and discussions, the employer eventually granted Grace an appeal hearing.
Prior to the appeal hearing our representative requested a range on information from the employer, which included: the invite to the ‘disciplinary hearing’ detailing the allegation sent to Grace ahead of the hearing, notes of the meeting, evidence of performance concerns being raised with her and of steps taken to address them in accordance with company policy.
The request was originally ignored and had to be repeated.
Bizarrely the employer later insisted all of the information requested contained confidential data. Therefore, it would only be given to Grace when she arrived at the office for the appeal hearing.
Despite our representative pointing it was unfair, the employer was adamant and refused to change its stance.
Given the appalling manner in which Grace had been treated and the ridiculous handling of her appeal, she did not want to be reinstated.
Her desired appeal outcome was to reach a settlement agreement and avoid having to go to an employment tribunal.
You will probably not be surprised to read that it was fairly straightforward for our representative to argue and demonstrate Grace was unfairly dismissed, and that the process that led to it was flawed and grossly unfair.
What you may be more surprised to read is, the terms of a settlement agreement were quickly agreed - and much better than Grace had envisaged.