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Urgent help needed - need to make sure that I am fired in the least bad way possible

(34 Posts)
HannahHack Fri 07-Oct-11 19:36:51

It's a bit of a long story but I will try to keep it short.

After a fairly positive performance review in July I was dragged into a meeting in September where I was told that my performance was not up to scratch and that if I did not improve in the next three months the situation would be 'referred to HR'.

I have been made to agree to weekly meetings to review my performancy and receive "help" and been asked to form a list of issues that have arisen so they "never happen again". Tow of them go round and round in cicles until I agree with their points and then send me minutes they have written of the meeting to "agree" with in writing.

I feel that these meetings are in fact a thinly veiled attempt to produce a dossier on my "performance issues", which are of course a highly subjective subject, so that they can go to HR and say "we tried everything" and either fire me or force me to resign. For example they have a meeting after I have left.

I don't agree that I have performance issues. I don't want to out myself by saying what work I do but it could be considered creative and they are criticisng my abilyt to do this. Obviously there are good and bad ways to do a job but I feel they are subjecing me to ridiculous levels of scrutiny that others are not subjected to.

Basically I want to negotiate a positive reference, I am not too bothered by money as I am under 25 so it would be a pittance anyway. I also want to know what would happen if I refused to 'agree' with them.

I know I can bring a union rep in but would this exacerbate the situation?

Any advice gratefully received!

GossipWitch Fri 07-Oct-11 19:40:40

If you are fired then this company would not be able to give you a bad reference, they can refuse to give you a reference but I don't think that they can say why, however don't quote me on this, this was what I was always led to believe.

Tyrionlovingyourwork Fri 07-Oct-11 19:41:47

This situation is exactly what your union rep is for.

I have been a manger in this situation and common practise was that the person concerned liaised directly with HR. This protects the individual and the manager and ensures that the correct procedures are follows.

Also references tended to be confirmation of the objective facts.

This is a very difficult position and it must be hard for you thanks

HannahHack Fri 07-Oct-11 19:48:10

@Tyrion Thanks.

I have spoken to my union (they are not the main union for the industry I work in but are recognised), and they are happy to do it. Do you mean I should speak to union, I have and they have advised me to avoid tribunal/grevience type stuff. Though they said the nature of the first meeting was against protocol and therfore I could claim unfiar dismissal if it came to that. But that isn't really what I want.

How do I liase with HR? Aren't they on the company's side? I am scared it would speed the whole sitation up.

HannahHack Fri 07-Oct-11 20:09:36

@Gossipwitch I think they can give a bad refernce it is just that I could sue them for libel if I did. An old boss (who was nice!) told me this when in a similar situation with a member of her staff. Obviously that is not a realistic option though. I have been told you can sign agreements to not slag each other off (to use the vernacular!) or can agree to pre-approve refernces. Or ask someone not involve, like a colleague at a similar level to do one. But I worry about future jobs, which I have been applying for, asking for a reference from my boss, and I am not sure how to handle this.

Does anyone have experience of this?

prh47bridge Fri 07-Oct-11 23:38:32

A lot of people seem to think companies cannot give bad references. They can. It is true that some choose not to do so but there is nothing to stop them. Yes, HannahHack could sue for libel but a reference is subject to qualified privilege which means it is difficult to win. HannahHack would have to prove that the reference was malicious which is not easy.

LoveBeingAMummyAgain Sun 09-Oct-11 07:52:23

If you are fired they can say that, if you leave pending disciplinary they can say that.

In what way are the targets they have set unfair? How far are you from achieving them? Do you think you cannot achieve them? What help are they giving you?

You sound like you have accepted that they will sack you, why?

flowery Sun 09-Oct-11 14:16:01

Firstly you don't have to 'agree' with your employer if they are raising performance concerns. You saying you disagree and think you are performing perfectly well isn't going to change anything.

What you are talking about is a compromise agreement. But those are usually used where there is a dispute and the company is trying to avoid tribunal claims. If you go to your company and say you don't like being performance managed and want to leave but can you have a compromise agreement with a positive reference, where's the incentive for them? Why would they not say 'just resign then'? Assuming they do want to get rid of you, which is a big assumption this early on unless you've got bags more evidence of that, then the only benefit for them is avoiding a long process. If they are not particularly desperate to get rid of you there's not much incentive for them to fork out for legal fees to sort out a compromise agreement really.

Have you checked that your managers are following the proper procedures in your company for dealing with performance issues? Have you got a staff handbook? Are the targets / performance expectations you are being set at the same level as all other staff who are performing a similar role at a similar level of experience?

Is your performance at an acceptable level for your role?

norriscoleforpm Wed 12-Oct-11 14:27:18

If you are having 'capability meetings' you need to ensure they are doing these properly ie: you should have been given a certain time to improve, feedback etc. Also, crucially, at your first capability meeting, you must have been offered the opportunity to have been acompanied. If you weren't, it needs to all start again. Check your policies, and do not leave without a fight!

HannahHack Thu 13-Oct-11 22:15:17

Thanks for all your help. @Chaz and @Norris I have just had a chat with parent/lawyers/friends and believe they have not followed correct procedures on a number of points
a) I was not offered the opportunity to be accompanied - according to my union this is BAD NEWS
b) The threats of HR should have been made by my employer/someone higher up the line, not my line manager
c) Some of the things they are setting as targets are highly subjective, hence a lot of my problems
d) The fact that my employer knows about this but has not become involved could be construed as neglegent. He hasn't said a word to me infact.

I don't want to drip feed but basically they are offering me the meetings in, what I feel is the guise, of held and feedback. However, for the past two weeks they have ripped to shreds 100% of what I have done. I have counted. I find this odd as two months ago I had a positive performance review.

I am fairly convinced they want to get rid of me as they talk in hushed tones about hiring someone else but not being able to decide what to do "yet".

I am thinking of going to HR abut this as I don't feel I have a lot to lose and should issue a pre-emptive strike by exposing how awful they are being.

Would bringing HR in at least ensure I could challenge it? Stop this guise of "help"?

KatieMorticiaton Fri 14-Oct-11 02:45:28

You don't have any right to be accompanied to a capability meeting. You only have the right to be accompanied to a disciplinary hearing. If you fail to meet the standards set then they will hold a disciplinary hearing which you have the right to be accompanied to. The outcome of that meeting will depend on whether there are any mitigating factors. If not it will be a warning of some kind and then another performance improvement plan, with another disiplinary at the end of it.

Of course your line manager can talk to HR. HR don't make the decisions - line managers do. HR just give advice and guidance. They work for the business.

You may think the targets are subjective but are they really? Are they behavioural targets per chance? The targets must be measurable and realistic.

Your "employer" I assume by that you mean owner or major shareholder is not being negligent by saying nothing. That sounds quite right in the circumstances.

It looks to me like you are being managed for capability and you are being given help and feedback. You are choosing to focus on the process rather than your performance.

I can see nothing that would justify them paying you off with a compromise agreement. Of course there could be more to this but nothing you have said sounds illegal or unethical.

I am happy to look over your performance improvement plan if you want to send it to me.

norriscoleforpm Fri 14-Oct-11 09:50:49

You do have a right to be accompanied to an intial capability hearing. This happened to me and because my manager ommitted to tell me of this rifght, the entire procedure had to be restarted.

KatieMortician Fri 14-Oct-11 10:03:01

No you don't. I have managed someone through the capability process and I'm a fully qualified HR professional. There is no legal right. Your company procedure may have specified you should but legally they don't have to.

I will go and double check this though to be sure.

KatieMortician Fri 14-Oct-11 10:05:52

It does have to be clear at the start of the formal capability process that failure to improve performance to the required standard will result in disciplinary action being taken.

LoveBeingAWitch Fri 14-Oct-11 10:06:55

A performance review of capability and on going performance meetings no, but once you start the capability process to dismiss ie disciplinary then yes you do.

norriscoleforpm Fri 14-Oct-11 10:13:19

That's what I meant - the very first meeting during which it is stated you will put onto a capability procedure - you have to be told that this meeting is going to go ahead and can have a representative with you. Obviously not for every meeting though!

KatieMortician Fri 14-Oct-11 10:19:21

No that's not right norriscoleforpm. The very first meeting when an employee is told s/he is being performanced managed for capability and that failure to meet the required standard will result in disciplinary does not have a right to be accompanied. It is only the disciplinary hearing that will happen if you fail to meet the standards that you have the right to be accompanied to.

The law is the Employment Rights Act 1996 if you wish to look it up and Business Link explain it here. See the bottom where it says you have the right to be accompanied to disciplinary meetings. You do not have the right to be accompanied to the meeting where you are told your performance is not up to standard and this is what you need to do to achieve the required standard.

norriscoleforpm Fri 14-Oct-11 10:26:53

Ok fair enough! Maybe it was just in the policies where I was working. Sorry if I've caused a misunderstanding here hannah

KatieMortician Fri 14-Oct-11 10:29:21

Don't worry norris. It does me good to question myself and having things clearly explained on a thread like this is no bad thing smile

And I didn't really give myself a mental high 5 for remembering which Act the right to be accompanied is in. Oh no, not me blushgrin

flowery Fri 14-Oct-11 10:55:39

Yes everything that Katie said. No right to be accompanied yet, quite right for your line manager to be dealing with it and talking to/referring to HR, and not at all 'negligent' for the owner or whoever not to be involved, absolutely appropriate in fact.

If you don't agree with their assessment of your performance you can make that clear now and throughout the process. You can and ask them to make it clear why after a very recent positive performance review they are now so dissatisfied with your performance. But some targets just can't be 'objective', particularly if what you do is creative.

I really can't see any reason for them to feel they need to offer/agree to a compromise agreement at this stage if you make it clear you want to leave. If you accuse them of wanting to get rid of you they'll just say 'no the purpose of the performance management process is to improve your performance and give you the support you need to get to the required standard'.

norriscoleforpm Fri 14-Oct-11 11:04:35

get you and your clever remembering Katie grin. I love being able to do that sometimes!!!

flowery Fri 14-Oct-11 11:06:54

AIBU to be ever so slightly concerned that Katie wrote an in-depth response to the OP at 2.45am..? grin

norriscoleforpm Fri 14-Oct-11 11:58:23

Workaholic! Or new mother? grin

KatieMortician Fri 14-Oct-11 12:10:13

Doing my dissertation. And running MN surveys grin

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