I've been sacked

(33 Posts)
dazedandconfused2016 Sun 02-Oct-16 22:00:01

Hi,

I am trying to make sense of what's happened and wondered if anyone could help? (Sorry, long.....)

I am a freelancer who worked across two different departments for the same company. I have worked in Dept A for many years, where I have never felt bullied.

I've been working in Dept B a couple of days a week for a year. In recent months I've felt extremely uncomfortable, largely because of the way the deputy head of dept has treated me: speaking to me contemptuously in front of colleagues, undermining me, avoiding me, choosing to give basic duties to other colleagues rather than me and, in the last couple of months, ignoring me outright.

A few months ago she and the head of dept called me into a meeting. Because I had felt so uncomfortable (to the point where I was having sleepless nights) I was expecting to be sacked. I was surprised to be asked about my health, as I had recently had health issues.

They asked whether I felt I could cope with the workload, I replied: "Yes." Then I asked if there were any issues with my work. They both said: "No."

So after that meeting, during which I told them further details of my health issues, the deputy backed off and was a bit nicer to me for a few weeks. I felt pretty stupid having got myself into a state and wondered if I'd imagined the "bullying".

But then the situation started to deteriorate again. To the point where I felt so uncomfortable around her that I would physically sit as far away from her as possible.

I had not at any stage felt bullied by the head of dept but in recent weeks he'd started complaining about minor errors I'd made in emails to me, which he felt were "very bad mistakes". However, I've seen many mistakes by other employees - some of them much worse.

On Friday afternoon I was asked to attend a meeting with the head. The deputy had taken the day off. I knew immediately I was being sacked.

I turned up to find the head and a HR person there. I asked if they minded me recording the meeting and they said they would rather I didn't, but agreed that I could take notes.

The head told me that they had too many staff in the department and they were having to make cutbacks. To decide who should go they had scored everyone on a range of competencies and I scored either the lowest in the department or among the lowest (can't remember which but either way it was bad).

When I asked him if he could be specific and give examples of where I had failed he said he "didn't want to get into that."
And added: "The fact is that most people in the department can do the job better than you can."

There was a tech competency, which I knew I'd failed because I wasn't learning quickly enough for them and was moved off the job. I am slow to learn new technology (I'm 50+) but once I grasp it I am confident and fast with it, which has been the case in Dept A.

He said I was not being sacked completely from the company because there was work for me still in Dept A, which he said I was obviously better suited to, and that I was "unsuited" to the work in his dept. But they were giving me a month's notice which he "hoped I would serve". He also said I should speak to the boss in Dept A who was expecting to hear from me.

They asked me not to discuss anything with colleagues outside of the meeting, saying there were "other conversations" they would be having.

I said I understood, that I had really enjoyed working there, I'd really enjoyed the tech work I'd been given, and that had I been given longer to learn it think I would have been up to the required speed,. Then, to my great regret and huge embarrrassment, I became tearful and had to leave the meeting.

I am now worried that in Dept A everyone will know I've been sacked from Dept B and that will undermine me in their eyes. I'm dreading the fact that people will gossip about me.

Here are some unanswered questions I have:

1. If I had been scored on a range of competencies, why were they unable or unwilling to give specific feedback or examples?

2. If I am simply rubbish at the job, why was there any need for the deputy to be so unpleasant towards me? Surely someone can have a professional opinion of you which isn't good, but be decent towards you?

3. My partner thinks I should face them, work my notice there and do my best, and don't let them see me rattled but I feel so humiliated. The prospect of going back into dept B to work my notice feels like going back into the lion's den. I don't get paid for days off as I am freelance.My BFF thinks that if I can afford it, I should tell them to "f-off".

I am depressed. I feel as though I've been kicked in the guts.

Given that I still have some work in Dept A, maybe I am overreacting. But I feel that this sacking will "devalue" me in their eyes. I just wanted to write this down and thank you for reading it if you've made it this far.

Balletgirlmum Sun 02-Oct-16 22:04:22

You say you are a freelancer. Does that mean you invoice for services rather than are on payroll?

In which case unless you go to tribunal & try to claim you should actually be an employee (which you probably could do with the help of a good employment lawyer) you aren't being sacked. They are just choosing not to use your services.

Keeping you on at department A I suspect is their way of trying to prevent you going to tribunal.

Balletgirlmum Sun 02-Oct-16 22:05:11

And if you are freelance you do not have to work notice if you don't want to.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Sun 02-Oct-16 22:11:26

If you're freelance, you haven't been sacked. They've just given you notice that in a month, the department won't need your services anymore because there are too many people. They would like you to work the month, and they'd like to continue to use your services in department A.

If you don't need the money, you could decline the month, although that might sour relations with Dept A.

I'd try to frame it more positively. You didn't like Dept B, you had a personal clash with management there, and it's to be expected that when work reduces and there are too many people, the freelancers are first to go, so people won't really think about it - especially as you'll still be working at dept A.

Kr1stina Sun 02-Oct-16 22:14:38

I'm not an expert but hopefully one will be along soon.

You say you are freelance . Can you say more about your contract ? Are you a consultant working for other companies too ?

Or are you on a Zero hours contract ?

dazedandconfused2016 Sun 02-Oct-16 22:38:44

Thanks for your replies. I'll try to explain my employment status.
It may be tricky as I don't want to out myself.

I have worked for the company for ten years as a casual/freelance worker so I do not have a contract of employment. I do not get sick pay or staff benefits. However I do accrue holiday pay and pay into a workplace pension, but have only been doing so since the government made it compulsory.

The Inland Revenue considers me an employee of the company as they pay me a daily rate and tax me at source. I do not bill the company. The company however considers me a freelancer, not a full-time member of staff.

I have worked for the company, on average, four or five days a week without a continuous break of more than 30 days at a time for ten years.

The company has been cost cutting radically and about a year ago sacked virtually everyone in one department and rehired new people earning much lower wages.

They sack people all the time - both staffers and freelancers - and no one has taken them to a tribunal. It is a low-earning industry and they know people haven't got the money to pay lawyers.

As for a zero hours contract, no, I don't think I am on one, but it's hard to tell, as other colleagues have gone from getting four or five shifts a week to one or two, and sometimes zero, with no other explanation than "we don't need so many people now".

In the old days years ago, if your freelance shifts were cut from say, 5 a week, to 2, they would make an exit payment to a freelancer. It is rumoured now that the company is now trying to push freelancers into leaving and finding other jobs so they don't have to make exit payments.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

dazedandconfused2016 Sun 02-Oct-16 22:41:52

I occasionally work for other companies but the bulk of my work is at this particular company. I am not a consultant.

Kr1stina Sun 02-Oct-16 22:46:12

I'm not a lawyer but you sound like an employee so you have some protection under employment law.

dazedandconfused2016 Sun 02-Oct-16 22:50:42

Yes, I think I do have rights. Another boss (who I get on well with) in yet a different dept at the company told me this.

Balletgirlmum Sun 02-Oct-16 23:13:05

Yo definatly sound like an employee. And with the conditions you describe you are entitled to statutory sick pay & holiday pay.

ICancelledTheCheque Sun 02-Oct-16 23:15:17

This sounds very dodgy to me.

If you can demonstrate you're an employee, then you have the right to claim unfair dismissal. Such a claim arises when the contract is terminated, rather than the employment.

If you were a genuine freelancer then there would be no need for HR, or their feeble attempt to pay lip service to a redundancy process!

dodobookends Sun 02-Oct-16 23:25:30

This sounds very dodgy to me
Me too. You are on the payroll and you are taxed at source, you accrue holiday pay and are in the pension scheme.

That means you are an employee, not a freelancer, and yes, you should be getting sick pay and other employee benefits.

They sound like they are deliberately breaking the law and trying to dodge their legal responsibilities.

OllyBJolly Mon 03-Oct-16 09:07:08

I'm a bit confused as to employment status. I think the OP might be a "casual worker" or employed on a zero hours contract. The company has her as PAYE and she receives holiday pay so she is on the payroll, not self-employed. (A true free lance would be self-employed).

However, it's not unfair dismissal; she hasn't been "sacked". The OP still has a role with the company, just one department doesn't require her services any more.

My reading of the OP is that this is about loss of face, not employment rights. The OP is understandably upset that one department has downsized and she is no longer required, and feels it's not justified that she's the one to go. She could challenge, raise a grievance etc but it looks like she doesn't want to go back to department B anyway so no point doing that.

OP, is there scope to increase hours at Dept A? Take on other work with another employer/client?

dazedandconfused2016 Mon 03-Oct-16 09:56:29

These comments are very interesting. There are a great many casual workers (hundreds, such as myself) used by my company so if there was a genuine entitlement to sick pay by law, I find it hard to believe someone else would not have thought of it and pursued it legally. It is a very big company and has used casual workers for a very long time - one casual worker has been there 20 years on a continual basis.

Maybe I am the one who's mistaken in calling myself "freelance".

OllyBJolly is correct in that my main problem with what's happened is that I am hurt. I feel it is a professional slur on me. I also feel that I have been treated very badly, that the real reason they are dumping me is because this deputy can't stand me, for whatever reason.

There was another casual she couldn't stand and they got rid of him too, recently. I heard her speaking to him inappropriately (ie. being really nasty) on more than one occasion. And he used to tell me himself about his problems with her.

I don't really know what I am seeking here, maybe emotional support. I just wanted to get my thoughts down.

I do feel I have been treated badly by this woman but no-one ever takes our company to court. It is very big and powerful. One person did years ago but lost, admittedly on a spurious claim.

dazedandconfused2016 Mon 03-Oct-16 10:11:53

These comments are very interesting. There are a great many casual workers (hundreds, such as myself) used by my company so if there was a genuine entitlement to sick pay by law, I find it hard to believe someone else would not have thought of it and pursued it legally. It is a very big company and has used casual workers for a very long time - one casual worker has been there 20 years on a continual basis.

Maybe I am the one who's mistaken in calling myself "freelance".

OllyBJolly is correct in that my main problem with what's happened is that I am hurt. I feel it is a professional slur on me. I also feel that I have been treated very badly, that the real reason they are dumping me is because this deputy can't stand me, for whatever reason.

There was another casual she couldn't stand and they got rid of him too, recently. I heard her speaking to him inappropriately (ie. being really nasty) on more than one occasion. And he used to tell me himself about his problems with her.

I don't really know what I am seeking here, maybe emotional support. I just wanted to get my thoughts down. I do feel I have been treated badly by this woman but no-one ever takes our company to court. It is very big and powerful. One person did years ago but lost, admittedly on a very spurious claim.

dazedandconfused2016 Mon 03-Oct-16 10:12:37

Sorry for double post - am having wi-fi connectivity issues!

Balletgirlmum Mon 03-Oct-16 12:01:03

Sick pay eligibility info

www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/overview

flowery Mon 03-Oct-16 13:04:12

"one casual worker has been there 20 years on a continual basis."

Nothing 'casual' about that. That's an employee.

You don't sound like a casual worker either OP. If you have been working consistently 4/5 days a week for 10 years! That's not 'casual' or 'zero hours'.

Sounds to me as though you haven't been 'sacked', but your hours are being forcibly reduced? If you've been working certain hours consistently for a significant period of time they become contractual, so it's not as easy as them just reducing it just like that.

mouldycheesefan Mon 03-Oct-16 13:06:50

You are not freelance. You are an employee.
You have the right to appeal against your dismissal. They should show you your scores.

Kr1stina Mon 03-Oct-16 13:28:48

Also your dismissal was not handled correctly on sereral accounts. Eg you should have been give notice of the meeting and told you had a right to be accompanied . You shoudl have received minutes of the meeting .your right to appeal shoudl have been explained. There's so many things wrong here.

What do you want to do ? Your Op sounded like you want advice on what you can do but later you have said that you just want sympathy .

RB68 Mon 03-Oct-16 13:29:50

Actually I am thinking the way this has been done that effectively you have 2 jobs one with A and one with B, They are making you redundant (ie the job no longer exists due to overstaffing) in one area - or trying to

I think you need to get some professional legal advise as if you only have one contract with them I don't think they can make you partially redundant.

The loss of face I can understand but try not to take it personally (although it is clear in this case that there is potential for it to be personal and that opens another whle kettle of fish to be honest) and just tell people that you have been told the department was overstaffed and therefore they are reducing work in that area - especially if others also effected.

I would go speak to A and see if they are prepared to have you full time and if so negotiate move over with immediate effect - as what is a month in an overstaffed dept and as you say - lots of uncomfortable feelings too.

If A can't offer you full time then def get decent legal advice - won't take them long so an hr at most and go from there

RB68 Mon 03-Oct-16 13:31:13

Should say they may argue the toss over redundancy as well and that may also need challenging. It is quite clear to me you are employed - no if buts or maybes you only work for them albeit in two roles.

Balletgirlmum Mon 03-Oct-16 13:34:26

You can reduce someone's hours due to there being less work avsilable. We did it several years ago when we reduced the standard working week for everyone. But there was a proper process to go through first.

Kr1stina Mon 03-Oct-16 14:03:23

It's a huge company . If they were carrying out redundancies they have to follow due process

PlentyOfPubeGardens Mon 03-Oct-16 14:40:46

I agree with the others, it sounds like you're an employee, not freelance. It also sounds like they are not following correct procedure for redundancy or change of contract.

I think you should get proper advice on this. Go to your local CAB or give ACAS a call.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now