Wed 25 July, 2018
For an employee facing the wrath of a vindictive boss is possibly one of the most uncomfortable and unnerving positions you can be in
There is a reasonable expectation that an employee will be able to raise any legitimate concerns in regards to their employment and not face reprisals.
At a disciplinary hearing Chelsea, who had a company mobile phone, faced allegations of using the working day excessively for non-business related matters.
The allegations, said to be considered gross misconduct, related to excessive use of her company mobile phone to make telephone calls and send text messages during work time. A lot of the usage was alleged to be personal.
Chelsea contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help with the disciplinary process at the utilities company where she worked.
In preparation for any formal hearing our representatives will always examine, scrutinise and evaluate the evidence said to support any allegation.
In Chelsea’s case our representative pinpointed a number of flaws in the case. This would help to demonstrate how unfair the process was – and to eventually clear Chelsea of any wrongdoing.
Prior to the disciplinary hearing our representative requested details of the organisation’s policy that specified the limit on mobile phone usage during work time.
He also asked for Chelsea’s previous bills and related data in regards to phone usage and a detailed breakdown to differentiate between business and personal use. A request was also made for timekeeping records to confirm Chelsea’s working hours, which were variable, during the period in question.
In response the company provided substantial information, but failed to provide the clarification that our representative had requested.
There was an exchange of email and telephone correspondence in relation to of the matter and that clarification was not provided. At the disciplinary hearing our representative made excellent use of the information that he did receive – and also that which he had asked for, but did not receive.
It was highlighted that a detailed breakdown to clearly differentiate between business and personal use was not provided. It was asserted therefore that insufficient information had been provided to support the allegation and to allow Chelsea to fully respond to the allegations, which was a breach of the ACAS Code of Practice. Any breach of the Code usually provides a good indication that a process is unfair.
Chelsea acknowledged personal use of the phone. She maintained this was minimal at best during the working hours and our representative provided evidence to support this.
It was also pointed out that there is also no clear policy dictating limits in relation to phone usage. And what was crucial in this case, is that Chelsea’s phone usage was just as high in previous months, and on two occasions even higher. However, she had never been spoken to in relation to this.
Now it is often said that timing is everything.
Prior of to the disciplinary case Chelsea had agonised long and hard before submitting a formal grievance against her supervisor.
She attended a grievance hearing and was given the opportunity to discuss, expand on the grievance and provide evidence to support her complaint of bullying.
The grievance was partly upheld. Chelsea was unhappy with the outcome and submitted a grievance appeal. That appeal was rejected.
This was the start of Chelsea’s problems. The supervisor happened to be the daughter of the head of the department, and it appears he was not about to let it drop.
Chelsea was summoned to the office of the head of department in the week after receiving the grievance appeal outcome.
He raised the disciplinary allegations against Chelsea; he also conducted the disciplinary investigation and subsequently recommended that Chelsea should face formal disciplinary action.
It was argued that the disciplinary allegations against Chelsea were unfounded and that given the link with the grievance and the head of department’s daughter, the decision to instigate disciplinary action appeared malicious.
Chelsea was understandably relieved when she was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
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