In a bit of an odd situation, could do with some guidance...

(12 Posts)
CrazyMegOfBedlam Sun 13-Jan-13 09:33:29

As the title says really, I'm in a very confusing situation and really need some help to process things in my mind. I want to raise a complaint with my former employers and really can't do with my current understanding of events. This could be long so thanks in advance to anyone who makes it to the end.

Up until the end of December 2012, I worked part time in an office and had done for about 4 years. At the end of 2011 I had gone on maternity leave and returned in July 2012.

During the time I was on ML, there had been a lot of change going on in the organization and an office move that had been rumored for sometime was finally announced in April 2012. Due to the new location of the office and the feasibility of getting DS1 to school, I inquired about the possibility of taking voluntary redundancy as job losses had also been announced as part of this move. My area manager told me she would look into it for me.

I returned from ML on 1st July 2012 with, despite keeping in contact with my manager, no date for the office move announced. We had received written confirmation that a move was definitely going ahead but that was it. On my second day back we were informed that the office would move across the following week. I was then approached by the area manager who informed me that, a decision had been made not to make anyone redundant but they were going to redeploy me to a different office on the other side of the County (Large rural area about 50-60 miles from my previous office base, although about the same distance from my home as the old office) .

As DS1's school and DS2's CM are on this side of the county and with all things considered (I would have been expected to find alternative childcare for a 7mo and a new school place within 3 working days and have the children ready to start there, not to mention my CM has the standard 4 weeks notice to terminate contract clause in her contract), I said this would not be possible and was then asked if I would hand in my notice but stay on in my current post until September (I had received enhanced maternity pay and this was the amount of time I would need to work in order to avoid paying any money back). Although I now know this is the absolute worst thing I could have done, I gave in my notice and moved office with the rest of the team.

When September rolled around, I began to have second thoughts about giving notice, although the days were long, I was getting DS1 to school on time and things weren't as bad as I'd anticipated they'd be. I then wrote a letter asking to either retract my notice or extend it to 31st Dec (although made it very clear I would prefer to retract it completely). This was sent to my area manager who sent it to her manager J, as, I was told she would have to authorize any kind of notice retraction. Despite chasing this, I heard nothing until the day before I was due to finish (apparently J had been on leave) and the verdict was; if I was still unwilling to move to the other office, I could extend my notice but not retract it. At the time I thought this, although frustrating was fair enough and got on with looking for jobs. On my leavers questionnaire, I mentioned how I would have liked to stay.

Roll on to 11th January 2013 (if you're still with me), I'd been selected for interview for a post I'd seen on the internal vacancies website before I'd left. When I attended for the interview, I was told by J who was on the panel that they would be unable to interview me because I was no longer internal staff (annoying but fair enough). When acknowledging this I mentioned how much I had wanted to stay on which is why I'd applied to rescind my notice in September. J then became very defensive and informed me of the following;

- That I had never applied to rescind my notice and if I had she would have had nothing to do with this
-That I had asked to extend my notice 3 times and implied I had been difficult about it but at the same time denying any involvement on her part.
- That I would have never been asked to hand in my notice insinuating I was either lying or confused.
- That I had never asked to be made voluntarily redundant

Due to being a stickler for keeping paperwork I have evidence that contradicts all of the above. I have also now been told I should have been able to rescind my notice regardless which throws question on why I was told I needed to apply in the 1st place.

I know somewhere along the line I have been wronged and am really annoyed by the situation I find myself in. Given the choice I would have stayed where I was. My mum thinks I've been constructively dismissed although I think that's very OTT and is more a communication failure (for which there were many during my time with the organization ). Can anyone shed some light on what this is? and what action, if any I should take? Happy to be told I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.

Thanks for reading, I really didn't mean for this to be the essay it is!

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 13-Jan-13 09:51:19

I think you need legal advice. I would agree with your mums constructive dismissal but am no expert.

SigningGirl Sun 13-Jan-13 12:27:11

To me it sounds like constructive dismissal by reason of negligence/idiocy rather than necessarily design.

If I were you I would contact them with a very friendly tone gently requesting a meeting to sort any confusion out and a way forward, without suggesting blame. To this meeting however, go armed with copies of all letters and a firm idea of what you want them to do next. You can then use that meeting to talk through what happened and what will happen now, which will be documented (you can ask them to confirm in writing so "you all are sure how we are going forward")

Your collaborative tone/attitude will enable them to rectify it if it really was stupidity, but also shows that you have tried to rectify it if you decide it is by design and want to take it further....

Just my thoughts, and experience of seeing people get more out of HR if they don't go in saying constructive dismissal but have a collaborative approach (even if faked!)

For what it is worth I don't think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill and it sounds like someone is backtracking to cover themselves...

flowery Mon 14-Jan-13 10:04:03

Hmm.

In July, if official notice was really only a week, they didn't follow a reasonable process there.

Because of the distance of the new office, you could have argued at that point that in fact your role was compulsorily redundant, and the role at the new office was not a suitable alternative due to the impact on your personal arrangements wrt schools etc. That's a valid argument.

However. The fact that the new office was the same distance as the old one from your home, and the fact that you've been managing it perfectly well since, indicates that you may have struggled a bit with this argument.

In any case, if you wanted to claim that your role was redundant and this new one was not a suitable alternative, you would have had to do so at the time very clearly, and if you did move at all, make sure it was clear it was under protest and only for the duration of your notice period, and be clear why you were resigning.

It doesn't sound as though you did any of those things. It sounds as though they would argue that you didn't think it wasn't suitable, just that you preferred not to do it, and were advised that if you didn't want to move with your role you'd need to resign, which you did.

Constructive dismissal is all about something or some things happening that are so serious and such a fundamental breach of the employment relationship that you have no option but to resign because your employment is no longer tenable. The fact that you have asked to retract your notice and been applying for internal vacancies indicates that you feel the opposite.

I'm a bit unclear about something. You say you found the move actually not as bad as you thought it would be, but then you say when you were told about the outcome of your application to retract your notice that if you were unwilling to work at the new office, you could extend but not retract, which sounds as though they were fine with you retracting if you were prepared to move?? But you are, aren't you? confused

You say you have been 'told' you should have been able to retract your notice. Is there an internal policy saying that? Because there is no law saying that an employee working their notice should be allowed to change their mind if they wish.

If someone resigns in such a manner that it is clearly not a considered decision/is heat of the moment, then that's different. For example if someone has a row with their manager, and walks out saying 'I quit' but then comes in the next morning, and says they didn't mean it, then the employer would normally be expected to allow that to be retracted, but where someone has considered it, handed their notice in in writing and been working their notice period for a while, there is no obligation for them to allow you to change your mind.

As I say, it's not clear whether in fact they were happy for you to retract if you work at the new office. If your OP was incorrect and in fact they were not happy for you to retract under any circumstances, then that and the fact that they are not willing to consider an application for another role because of a technicality, both indicate that they are perfectly happy to lose you.

But there's nothing illegal in that. As I say, you may have had an argument back in July, but your actions at the time and since have undermined that completely I'm afraid. I assume that in the last six months of this you haven't raised a formal grievance at any point either?

flowery Thu 17-Jan-13 10:03:17

I do love it when I spend ages assessing someone's long and detailed post and giving advice about it and then they don't even bother to acknowledge it. Good job I have nothing better to do with my time eh? Oh no, wait...

hmm

pippop1 Fri 18-Jan-13 14:35:51

Well Flowery, it was kind of you to try.

I helped someone write a paragraph on an application form for a job and asked them to let me know if they got it or not. They didn't come back. So I know how you feel!

hermioneweasley Fri 18-Jan-13 21:02:12

Oh flowery - I know what you mean, it's happened to me on occasions. But you help lots of people and they are normally very appreciative.

Perhaps this beahviour gives an insight as to why the OP's employer don't want to let her retract her notice!

MustafaCake Fri 18-Jan-13 21:10:36

Maybe she didn't like your advice Flowery smile

Seriously, it was very kind of you to post such detailed and excellent advice (fellow HR person here) and you have every right to be a wee bit pissed off.

flowery Sat 19-Jan-13 11:30:33

"Maybe she didn't like your advice Flowery"

Probably!
I dunno. It does happen a fair bit and mostly I ignore because most people do come back and are polite. But every so often there's a spate of posters like this and I get annoyed and feel the need to say something!

And yes, I do find this is more likely to happen where I haven't said "Yes OP, your employer is behaving completely illegally, you have a cast iron case and should immediately put in a claim, as you are bound to get a gazillion pounds compensation"

grin

hermioneweasley Sun 20-Jan-13 13:16:09

Only a gazillion? I sat on a (very tenuous) unfair dismissal case recently, including non payment of holiday pay. UD claim not upheld. The holiday pay came to (drumroll).....£3. I nearly said "FFS I'll pay it out of my own pocket so I can go home early". People have a completely skewed idea of what they'll get!

flowery Sun 20-Jan-13 13:41:03

grin at £3 holiday pay!

hermioneweasley Sun 20-Jan-13 13:44:37

Honestly, £3 for three of us to sit there all bloody day.

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