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Work trying to bully me into cancelling holiday

(388 Posts)
worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 16:47:35

Sorry if this is the wrong place but this section has the most traffic and hoping for someone to help me.

Long story short is a booked my annaul leave in january in line with company policy and it was approved. After the approval I booked an expesive holiday to the USA for 3 weeks to see my parents as my father is in poor health and would like to see him before he deterates futher (long term problem with no possiblity of a cure sadly).

Now the crux of the problem last week my work colleuge is now wanting to start her metinity leave 2 months early than planned and now because our department is small one of us must be in the building for the department to run (I dont want to give too much details here as its very specislt field of work and dont want to out myself) and the meritity cover cannot start 2 months early than planned so my boss is putting large amounts of pressure to cancel my holiday and treating gross misconduct when I refused to cancel it as my manager blunty said when I asked is the company going to compestate for my finacel loss (non-refundable flights / hotel deposits etc) and she basically said tough luck the company WILL NOT pay for the loss of this money (roughly £3000) and I should just absorb this loss and consider it one of those things, which I replied no I am not willing to lose not only my last possible chance of seeing my Father before he passes away but also that amount of money which is a large amount for me.

Which is the reason she is quoting gross misconduct as I am refusing to cancel my holiday with only 2 weeks notice and that I am expected to eat the fiancal loss as well as prescous time with my father and my question is twofold

I am unreasonable to refuse to NOT cancel my holiday no matter that it will causes massive problems for the company and the second are they legally allowed to breech their own policies relating to booked holidays to be able to say my holiday will be treated as unauthrised absance and thus a gross misconduct offence even though I have all the documents saying it was authorised etc and finally if they are allowed to cancel my holiday at such short notice can force them to pay for my lost money so I am not out of pocket (travel insurnce will not pay out as it is not covered by their terms)

I am sorry for the long post and if it is in the wrong area and for any spelling or grammer mistakes as I have dylexia and no spell checker on this device.

paxtecum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:20:22

Are they planning to get cover in for the woman going on maternity leave?
Or are you expected to do here job too?

paxtecum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:20:59

her job!

AryaOfHouseSnark Sat 07-Jun-14 17:21:36

This doesn't seem fair, you will get some good advice if you post in employment issues. I know there are some very knowledgable and helpful people on there. Hope you get it sorted, it sounds horrible.

worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:24:08

sorry I didnt make it clear they have cover sorted but my collegue has decided to move the start date 2 months early than first arranged and the cover they have arranged cannot start until a month before the offical start date and because off the speiclized nature of the work its unlikely they will find a replacement cover just for the month shortfall

BloominNora Sat 07-Jun-14 17:25:59

I'd speak to ACAS first - that guidance seems very unclear to me. It talks about refusing a request for leave, but not cancelling previously authorised leave which are two slightly different things. However, they do seem to be out of time, even if the guidance applies to authorised leave as well.

If ACAS are no clearer and you can afford it, it may be worth a quick consult with an employment solicitor - if they think what your employer is doing is wrong, then it would be worth it just to see the look on your bosses face when you ask her to copy any correspondence about gross misconduct into your legal representative.

If ACAS / legal advice suggests that you suck it up, check to see if your travel insurance will cover this scenario - your boss will just have to provide written confirmation. Alternatively, you could sue your employer via the small claims court as you booked your holiday in good faith that the leave had been authorised.

Another thing to consider is if, by cancelling the holiday, your employer is preventing you from taking the statutory minimum annual leave - this would depend on when your leave year ends, and what your leave entitlement is. If the cancellation of the leave means that you won't be able to take the statutory minimum before the end of your leave year, they can't ask you to cancel it.

ginnybag Sat 07-Jun-14 17:27:48

What reason is your co-worker giving for changing her booked maternity leave and how pregnant is she?

What do your contract/handbook say about employers being allowed to cancel leave?

The reason I ask is that there are rules about notifying maternity leave start dates and the notice that must be given to change this, unless she's signed off sick in the last few weeks of pregnancy. There are also general rules about amount of notice that employer must give to cancel annual leave. Both of these are usually spelt out in detail in your T&C's.

Given that she's moving it forward by two months, I'm suspecting that she's not in that last few weeks. It changes the picture, because - and I may be remembering incorrectly! - that should mean she needed to give 28 days notice in writing to change her dates, and the company therefore would have had plenty of time to resolve this issue without flapping at you had this been 'maternity leave'.

However, I think it more likely that your co-worker is struggling with her pregnancy and has been signed off, if she's leaving at such short notice. This is relevant you, because it means that what your employer is asking you to cover is a colleague sickness absence, not a 'maternity leave'.
The key issue there is when your holiday actually is and how much notice they're giving you about cancelling. If they're giving you the stated amount of notice, they may be right - on technical grounds - about being able to do this. They have a business reason in a key member of staff being unexpectedly absent, and that may be all they need. It's a bastard thing to do, no argument, but they may be able to. Most contracts do have that clause.

Under those rules, you would then be AWoL, and it would constitute Gross Misconduct. Is it the normal procedure at your workplace for you to over each other like this? If there's custom and practice for cancelling holidays at short notice, particularly if you and this lady have done it for each other, it may weaken your position when this comes to the crunch.

What I'd be inclined to do is read your contract and then write to HR/Senior management and explain the situation. Point out all your extenuating circumstances, and note that, if you are outside the notice period is that this should mean they have a good number of weeks to come up with another solution as well, as you would consider the nature of your father's illness/distance/financial implications to be exceptional.

If they aren't within that period, then it's honestly their problem and not yours, but be aware that it will cause resentment. Go, and prep your documents for the all out when you get back.

It's a shit situation and it sounds like your company seriously needs to look at its staffing and back up procedures, as it's poor management that this situation has been allowed to occur.

ginnybag Sat 07-Jun-14 17:35:29

Crossposts - Notifying you on 6th June for a 3 week holiday starting 16th?

Yeah, either your co-worker has gone sick or someone's agreed to the change without thinking it through - although, as a side note, I wonder if your employer is bullying her into starting her 'mat leave' early as well, if she is sick? - but that's not your problem.

Unless you have an odd contract, that's not nearly enough time.

Confirm with ACAS on monday, but they're likely on a hiding to nothing here.

worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:39:13

Thank you everyone for being so helpful with all your advice I will take everythnig on board.

Ginnybag we do normally cover each others sick days etc we are quite close and socialise outside work she hasnt confided in my why she has moved mertinity leave forward 2 months but it could be something do with coping being pregent and with toddler aged twins

and BloominNora I have alreayd spoken to the travel insurance company they have notified me that I am out of time for work relatied not being able to fly as apprently I am meant to give 1 month notice is work commitments are stopping me from flying

and my TC of employment are not finilized after the merger of my company with a American firm so under the conidstions before the merger they would be breach of these but apprently since the the merger they are retrospectly changing the conditions to bring ours inline with theres so they are not clear about cancelling holidays but there is a line in the new conidtions (I havent signed them yet) that the company holds the right to cancel any and all annaul leave incase of emergrines with 48 notice only requried

(but according to the websites linked here that is contray to UK law) so I am thinking these conditions are tailiored for US law which could make them invaild in the UK right? (sorry I am not very good with law)

Minnieisthedevilmouse Sat 07-Jun-14 17:39:54

Get advice. Personnel recommendation Barker Gilette, London. Excellent firm. Used them several times. Pm me if wish. Google them.

MrsBrianODriscoll Sat 07-Jun-14 17:41:13

That is bloody outrageous..

worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:42:00

I would be willing to re arrange my holiday if they covred me that I wouldnt be so out of pocket £3000 is alot of money and I cant afford to throw that away (If i did there would not be enough to actully re-arrange a holiday)

worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:44:15

I had even emailed them to that regaurd but they flatly refused saying that they wont even consider it and I should just do as they asked as I am not apprently showing company loyality by asking them to not make me out of pocket (I was not asking for extra so to cover what i was losing)

IAmNotAMindReader Sat 07-Jun-14 17:44:52

If they carry this through they are up shit creak. They haven't given you the appropriate period of notice and trying to shoe horn it as gross misconduct will have them facing an unfair dismissal tribunal where you would win on multiple counts.

They can't just threaten this, they have to perform an investigation.
Just read up on your rights and contact ACAS and make them aware of the situation and inform your employers you are investigating your employment rights with a view to a tribunal and as soon as your boss has been on to their solicitors they should back off, once they know how much trouble they could be in.

worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 17:45:43

and thank you Minie I will google them for a number would a london firm be willing to take on a case in Wales are welesh employment laws different to English (I know there is differences between scotland and england but not the others)

whatever5 Sat 07-Jun-14 17:53:25

I have known very well paid senior people to cancel their annual leave at short notice due to a company emergency etc but they are always financially compensated.

I'm not sure what the law is regarding cancelling pre-authorised annual leave but I would be amazed if they can treat it as gross misconduct if you refuse to cancel considering that they are refusing to compensate you.

FishWithABicycle Sat 07-Jun-14 17:59:30

Yikes. They can't impose something unreasonable on you retrospectively. Your existing Ts&Cs are still in force until such time as you sign the new deal. I hope you get a new job before that happens!
Do stand up to them. This is going to be a very expensive case of bullying for them, it would be much cheaper for them to get a temp. No well-run business should depend on the presence of one single person. As someone said upthread - it's entirely possible you could be ill during this maternity leave so they need to have a way of functioning without you.

expatinscotland Sat 07-Jun-14 18:07:51

They sound like cunts.

ginnybag Sat 07-Jun-14 18:09:07

OP, start looking for a new job, but in the meantime, refuse, politely, and just go.

'We're bringing in new T&C's following a merger...., you haven't seen them/agreed them/signed them yet, and they probably breech UK law but you're going to be bound by them retroactively....' Excuse the phrasing here, but tell them to fuck right off.

Your T&C's are what you signed. End of. They will continue to be your T&C's until you agree to new ones - because they cannot just impose new ones, merger or not. Look up TUPE for this.

Write to them, tell them they haven't given you nearly sufficient notice, that you are not insured because they haven't given you notice and that you would like to open a formal grievance about the way you're being spoken to and threatened. You feel you've demonstrated sufficient loyalty by cancelling on previous occasions, but cannot accommodate them this time, particularly since this would have seen you significantly financially disadvantaged and may have long term family implications for you.

Then also mention the new T&C's and that you have been threatened with being in breech of these. When were they issued to you? Have they proof? What was the consultation period? Have they evidence of your agreement to them.

Your worst case scenario here is them sacking you for Gross Misconduct - make it very, very clear that you'll file the tribunal paperwork for unfair dismissal the following day if they try this, particularly with an unanswered grievance in place. They'll lose - oh, boy, will they lose - and it really won't be cheap for them!

If your work is so specialised, have you considered whether there's a market for you setting up alone?

littledrummergirl Sat 07-Jun-14 18:10:24

If your company has merged I suspect tupe. If thats the case then your previous contract should stand however it is complicated and you would need legal advice to confirm.

They are out of time to cancel your leave under ordinary circumstances. If they want to use business need then they need to be able to demonstrate that. I dont think sick or maternity cover would be sufficient.

You need to contact ACAS they are not being reasonable.

worridmum Sat 07-Jun-14 18:19:21

Thanks again everyone and a big thanks to you Ginnybag I will be writing a formal letter to the HR along the lines you have highlighted but if it does go ahead looks like I will need to find a new job because I really dont want work for a company with some of these purposed policies.

its such a shame this company used to be really really good but since the take over (I cant think of it as a merger with the extreme change in everything) I dont think I can work under some of these polices

IAmNotAMindReader Sat 07-Jun-14 18:20:24

I don't think the maternity leave is going to cut it either, its not a sudden unforseen event.

PrincessBabyCat Sat 07-Jun-14 18:28:09

Well, the US is mostly "At Will" employment, which means they can fire you whenever they want with no reason. It also means you can quit whenever you want without having to give notice. But it gets tricky because they need to prove they're not discriminating against you if you sue for wrongful firing so people get "laid off" because "the department is downsizing", not fired over here unless there's behavior issues they can prove. There's no protection, it's all cold numbers. If you're not making a profit you (and sometimes the rest of your team) get the boot no matter how long you've been working there. Company loyalty counts for nothing here, so jobs generally have a fast turnover rate of about one per year or more for some people depending on their field.

Anyway, if you have a specialty field, I don't think they'll throw the baby out with the bath water. It makes no sense to fire someone with no replacement in mind.

rookiemater Sat 07-Jun-14 18:28:31

I shuddered when you said it was a US company, they usually have much worse Ts&Cs for staff ( I know I used to work for one) primarily because in the US there is no welfare states and unions aren't as prevalent.

I really hope you get to go without it turning into a huge thing. I'm actually really shocked that it's legal for a company to cancel a two week holiday with two weeks notice shock.

PigletJohn Sat 07-Jun-14 18:31:37

"my TC of employment are not finilized after the merger of my company with a American firm "

ha ha, I've seen something similar.

There is probably some Septic trying to lay down the law without any knowledge or understanding of UK practice and employment law, never mind the idea that there is a place called RoW which is different from US.

Trooperslane Sat 07-Jun-14 18:32:50

They're bullies

As pp said, not your problem.

They need to sort the cover - you've had it booked for 5 months FFS.

They abvvvvu.

Sorry about your Dad op

Why does early mat leave trump a pre booked, authorised holiday?

They're picking on you because it would be madness to refuse the early mat leave.

So sorry thanksthanksthanks

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