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Is it worth trying to remove this from my record?

(15 Posts)
worstofbothworlds Mon 06-Feb-17 10:34:25

Our department has a take-it-in-turns HoD (internal) so we now have a different HoD to the one who was in charge when I came back from my first maternity leave.

That HoD was very micro-managing but also never read emails or our enforced public announcements of whereabouts (I know some of you have read about this before).

DS, who is now 5, was just over 1 and I had the opportunity to go to a conference just an hour's travel away but of the two days one was on a day I don't normally work.
I emailed HoD to ask about swapping my days of work, he didn't reply. I had mentioned in my email that I wouldn't know about childcare till nearer the time so having received no reply to that I booked the childcare, as it turned out I could get it, and I went.

We had another meeting that week which was on my other day off - I emailed the organiser to say sorry that I couldn't make that meeting since it was on my regular day off. I did not hear back from the organiser either to say "OK we'll move the day" or "Oh it's really really important for you to be there, is there no way you can swap that working day too?". The meeting was a review of the last year for a module that I had not coordinated in the previous year (as it happened, I had coordinated it in the past and was down to do it again in the future, so I could have contributed but nobody told me it was life and death to be there, so I didn't make any further arrangements).

I announced on our internal announcement system that I would be at the conference on the first day in question, off work for the second day and didn't actually announce that I would be off for the third day since I don't normally work that day.

No reply from either HoD or meeting organiser at this date.

I went on holiday for the next 2 weeks and came back to a "discinplinary" letter for "taking annual leave without permission". This letter mentioned that I had skipped an "essential meeting" (the one on the third day, my regular day off) which had been moved to my normal working day "especially for me". But nobody had told me this.

Long palaver ensued with union rep, HR and HoD, where HR insisted and HoD concurred that I had no right to take ToiL if I worked a different day.

My recollection of the outcome of the meeting was "letter stands, you should check HoD has actually given permission, no further action". My position is "this is a ridiculous thing to discipline an academic for, and if HoD never answers emails how am I supposed to get approval in writing, given that approval in person is not worth the paper it's written on, and in general up to that point saying 'I have not heard from you so I assume it's OK' was never an issue".

New HoD is actually insistent on the final point (no ToiL) and makes me ask to "temporarily alter my contract" for such changes (and got stroppy about one because I couldn't promise to change for teaching, owing to the long notice involved, but arranged for my DH to take AL for a research trip - it's not like I can come home to do childcare from an overseas trip).

My question: should I check this letter is still on my record, and if it is, should I ask for it to be removed as I did not take AL nor did I fail to ask permission for my change of day?

MarasmeAbsolu Mon 06-Feb-17 19:57:28

not sure how to contribute WoBW - I am in an institution where noone checks on anyone. I'd actually be shocked if my HoD tried to enforce such a system and would most prob quit.

But yes, I would check whether letter stands when there is proof that emails went unacknowledged for days and request did not get turned down.

lljkk Mon 06-Feb-17 20:00:59

In future, stick read receipts on every single one of your emails to the HoD.

I think I'd fight that one. Just to drag him thru the hassle. (But I'm bitter & hold a grudge so maybe you shouldn't). I presume you have copies of all your sent emails?

CotswoldStrife Mon 06-Feb-17 20:12:40

I am not surprised that your contract is structured in such a way as to make TOIL not possible, and on that point alone unfortunately I think your bid to have the letter removed from your file is a bit doomed! They have deemed it AL because there is no TOIL available to use.

worstofbothworlds Mon 06-Feb-17 22:21:25

My contract specifies working days but doesn't say I can't swap. No mention of this "temporary change of contract" idea for such occasions was made by previous HoD. It was news to me when the new HoD suggested it and the old one let me do this on other occasions (i.e. informal swap not "change of contract". Anyway if that's what I have to ask for it's OK but it would be nice to know.

I have found in the past that read receipts don't work. Some programs don't send them, some people refuse to click "yes" (I never do).

Would I ask HR our current HoD about this?

worstofbothworlds Mon 06-Feb-17 22:24:58

Cotswold it may have been AL but it's the permission issue. I wasn't needed the day I took off and one day in term time has been OK for other colleagues (and me) if not needed, and with notification. I asked if it was OK and got no response. Later I was told a meeting had been moved to that day, but after I'd told two people I was planning/hoping to be off that day (in fact, I was only told about the meeting after it took place).

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Mon 06-Feb-17 23:28:12

I also can't understand this micro-management, what on earth department do you work in where the HoD has time to be interfering in this type of case? Mine hasn't seen me for six months, I am just trusted to get on with my workload, which is high and quite detailed, and that's that!

Can you go back to the union? If it's on your record as 'no action taken' does it matter enormously? Would they shaft you with a bad reference if you continued to fight this?

CotswoldStrife Tue 07-Feb-17 10:24:28

Why are you bothered about this now OP, it was 4 years ago? Are written warnings removed anyway after a set period of time?

I suspect there is a backstory here!

drspouse Tue 07-Feb-17 13:40:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CotswoldStrife Tue 07-Feb-17 16:20:55

I thought it was you, but that's a namechange fail there!

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Tue 07-Feb-17 16:51:31

I think the point is what would you gain at this stage? Are you looking for another job? One written warning, and I'm not really sure it is a warning, would be quite common in my workplace, lots of my colleagues have done things warranting them!

I think stirring things up again with a new HoD who won't know the ins and outs is not worth it. It may be worth asking the union rep if they know the outcome, although if it says 'no action taken' then the end result is you had a letter saying don't do this and no further action was taken. I can't help but think this is pouring energy into something unlikely to change now (not least because the people involved have moved on/emails deleted/I don't think anyone will be motivated to sort out something from four years ago).

worstofbothworlds Wed 08-Feb-17 11:37:38

I think as far as "what I'm hoping to achieve" is that I don't really want any future HoD to hold this against me.
Because of the change in role-holder, we will have another person in before too long. I am pretty confident the previous one will have told the current one that I'm a pain the backside to the point of needing a disciplinary letter. It won't be a case of not knowing the ins and outs - they will have been told.

I didn't just have a letter saying "don't do this, no further action". I had a letter, a disciplinary meeting with no firm conclusion (definitely no admission of slacking on email replies from HoD), and no follow up.

As to why now - it is partly because I remembered about it and partly because we have a new HoD with whom it will be more possible to raise this in a neutral way.

I'm not planning to apply for any jobs in the near future, but it's a possibility. So I guess my thought was, sort this out now while it's not urgent, then it won't be hanging over me in a future situation where I am.

I think following the advice of some PPs I will ask the Union rep if they can find out what I'd need to do, and what they would advise.

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Wed 08-Feb-17 12:04:32

But institutional memories will fade very rapidly. If you don't mention anything, I very much doubt the current HoD will be mentioning things that happened four years ago, and were really very minor.

You are essentially reactivating this all over again for the current HoD. I have to be honest, I would see this as a pain if I were that HoD even though I can see you haven't done anything wrong (but proving that many years after the fact will be difficult). Surely we all have a lot on our plates on a day to day basis and going back over old ground from many years ago really isn't what most people want to be doing?

Perhaps I feel like that as I have quite a few colleagues who have had disciplinary meetings, but it doesn't affect anything like promotion as that is a completely separate process.

You could ask the union rep but I can't see them being too keen to go back in time either- the time to ask for the outcome was a while ago when everyone was still in post.

Sorry if I'm putting the contrary view, I just wonder if you are fixing on this a bit when in most people's minds it's long gone.

geekaMaxima Wed 08-Feb-17 15:57:40

I second the idea to let sleeping dogs lie.

You say your current HoD has been warned by the previous HoD about the incident, and probably with the handover info that you were a "difficult" member of staff. Bringing the incident up again, years later, will just seem to confirm it for current HoD. It will look like former HoD was right and you're a pita to manage, doesn't know when to let things go, etc. It could easily end up creating an awkward or prickly working relationship between you and current HoD, who will in turn pass a warning about you onto the next HoD, and so on, for no clear gain.

By leaving it in the past, though, your current HoD is more likely to write off the incident as a one-off, or an unfortunate incident exacerbated by a personality clash between you and former HoD (particularly if former HoD's email neglect is well known around the dept). At least this way, your working relationship with your current HoD will be based only on what happens during current HoD's tenure, who will in turn pass on a clean sheet when your next rotating HoD steps up.

user7214743615 Wed 08-Feb-17 19:02:52

You are essentially reactivating this all over again for the current HoD.

Exactly. And reactivating this would create hassle for your new HoD, over something which is too minor to mean anything in your record, making new HoD believe that you are indeed a PITA.

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