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Hr advice needed - investigations

(25 Posts)
slithytove Fri 29-May-15 16:34:04

Posting on behalf of DH
I would really appreciate some advice

DH works in retail. One of his roles is to check the abc product line and range in stores. This is proved with photos. The goal is to maximise the abc product range in comparison to the competitor products.

He used to have to just send a photo of the abc products.

In September, an email went out saying that the photos now needed to be of the abc product and the competitor product, so that space share can be calculated.

He today was investigated for "falsifying his space numbers". Turns out he missed the email in September and was only sending photos of abc products, leading to a belief that he had 100% or close to it of space share.

He has made it clear that
a) he missed the email
b) there was no follow up that this training had been acknowledged or understood
c) that it was entirely accidental, to the extent that he has trained others since in the old way
d) that this was not picked up by either of his managers in the 6 months following, not via an audit or an accompanied visit (should happen monthly, don't)

Falsifying numbers is gross misconduct. They are conducting further investigations (going back to look at his other photos and talk to his colleagues)

Can anyone help please? I feel his company have done wrong, that this is a training issue not a gross misconduct one, but it's his word against theirs.

If it helps, he has an excellent track record, excellent numbers (called into question now though!) and was internally promoted in March. This issue relates to his old position though he has continued making the error in his new position.

He thinks he will be sacked.

slithytove Fri 29-May-15 17:55:04

Anyone? Ive got a very worried DH here

Can't seem to find his disciplinary procedures online either

click001 Fri 29-May-15 21:56:40

This is a difficult time for your partner. There is no mention whether or not your partner has been suspended whilst an investigation is carried out which often happens when there is a possibility of dismissal for gross misconduct. Your partner's length of service is also a factor.

Your partner has been up front, acknowledged what took place and appears to have provided a suitable explanation for the allegation but the employer will have no option but to look into the matter further. The employer should be considering how the photos were taken by those who your partner trained after September, whether they took photos of the product only or also of competitor products.

The employer should also be looking into the lack of audits and accompanied visits by the managers and if your partner becomes involved in disciplinary proceedings then the managers may also be subject to disciplinary proceedings - if they are not, this would need to be questioned.

Your partner should be provided with sufficient evidence by his employer prior to the disciplinary hearing, if one takes place, to enable him to prepare for the hearing and can take in a work colleague or union rep - who your partner should ask to take notes of the hearing. One issue which may not go in your partner's favour is that he missed the email and although he can stand his ground with b) and d) mentioned above, the employer could argue that no other employee in your partner's position missed the email, if that is the case. Was there any indication of the importance of the email on the email itself, e.g. was it marked high priority, urgent or what was in the subject header?

The company obviously thought highly of your partner to promote him and at the end of the disciplinary hearing (again, if one takes place) your partner should end on a positive note such as highlighting the reasons behind his promotion, his track record, length of service (if appropriate) and how he sees his future with the company.

Hope it all goes well.

slithytove Sat 30-May-15 00:40:25

No suspension but it hasn't gone to a disciplinary procedure yet, just "informal investigation"

He has been there 3.5 years

His replacement from March has taken the photos correctly. DH didnt train her. Those he did train, will depend on whether they read the email. Chances are they did, it was pretty important. However, it wasn't indicated as such and there was no follow up in any way.

Nor did his boss or the photo analysts identify a problem with the photos. Only with this discrepancy in numbers.

I feel sorry for DH, he got that email the day I turned 40 weeks pregnant and slow labour started, he was a mess.

He has been crying tonight. sad

Thank you so much for replying.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 30-May-15 07:56:36

One observation I make as a boss who puts in place standard operating protocols that carry similar weight is that the company have no evidence trail that he received the training update. Whenever I issue such an update I either request an email back stating they have read the policy or a signature on a sheet to confirm they have read and understood the policy.

flowery Sat 30-May-15 11:04:44

If they are just investigating informally rather than starting disciplinary proceedings, it's a bit of a jump to assume he will be accused of gross misconduct and sacked. That's not to say they won't start disciplinary proceedings, but normally if they think something might be gross misconduct, disciplinary proceedings would be started.

If they do go down the disciplinary route, he should be given a copy of the policy, and if he isn't, he should ask for it.

slithytove Sat 30-May-15 11:58:03

He has the email, just didn't read it. So it's their word against his.

It's a ridiculous jump I agree. But he is naturally pessimistic and has had a hard time of it lately. Plus they have got rid of many other people for falsifying numbers. It just depends whether they believe him that he screwed up rather than intentionally tried to defraud them.

On the plus side, this is how he has always taken photos.

tribpot Sat 30-May-15 12:08:17

I'd be very surprised if he was the only one who missed the email. But perhaps the others have more diligent supervisors who actually perform the monthly audit that's meant to catch non-compliance? Effectively the first mistake was his but the rest is down to his boss.

The fact that accusing people of falsifying numbers is a standard tactic for them is very worrying and I think your DH is right to be worried. Would they have a reason to want shot of him, is he expensive? He's only just been promoted, was there someone else competing for the role?

He needs to keep calm and reiterate the fact it was a simple error on his part, he regrets the mistake and is concerned it wasn't picked up sooner.

DownWithThisTypeOfThing Sat 30-May-15 12:13:38

Ok it's potentially gross misconduct as it probably comes under fraud. If you look at the company's procedures it will probably say gross misconduct can result in dismissal - as in that would be one of the most severe sanctions. It doesn't mean that they will dismiss him, just that they have the option to. They may consider mitigating circumstances or take into account a previously clean record. What they may also take into account is whether DH benefitted financially from his mistake and whether his mistake cost the company money.

No-one on here can know how likely it is for your DH to be dismissed. That depends largely on the culture of the company, whether they believe it was a mistake or deliberate, whether it can be put right, how serious the impact was etc. People on here can advise whether the correct processes have been followed but so much of the decisions will be down to factors we can't know. His best bet would be to speak to his union if he has one.

Hope you get the best outcome possible flowers

slithytove Sat 30-May-15 12:26:53

He isn't expensive and they struggled to fill the role
The others genuinely did falsify numbers (said they had visited sites when they hadnt), it's a serious issue.
He didn't benefit financially
He has a brilliant track record, is well liked and respected
He is gutted as he feels that no matter the outcome, all that is gone and he should look elsewhere anyway
No Union

AlternativeTentacles Sat 30-May-15 12:34:55

Whoever was checking - surely they noticed that his photos hadn't changed after the update and would have queried it? Part of communication is ensuring it has been received and understood. I'd be arguing that you can't just send out an email and expect 100% of people to read and understand - if it is important enough then checks and measures need to be implemented to ensure it is being understood and complied with.

Things like this really should be signed off not just emailed out.

slithytove Sat 30-May-15 12:48:25

Agree completely

FromMeToYou Sat 30-May-15 13:09:47

Well if he's being treated so shoddily by them then maybe he should start looking around for a new job anyway. If you value your employees you treat them fairly.

slithytove Sat 30-May-15 13:16:44

Agree and I think he is right to be angry. But that doesn't change the fact that if he loses his job, we are completely screwed. Mortgage, 2 kids under 3, I'm a sahm, the youngest is 8mo old.

I'm scared.

LouisaB1990 Sun 31-May-15 00:42:39

If he hasn't been suspended highly unlikely to be dismissed. Common practice to suspend n sack! Ask for docs to prove he was aware of this new program. No signature no proof no disciplinary. Ask for my email add if you need any help I deal with this sort of stuff!

slithytove Sun 31-May-15 01:09:26

Thank you I might well take you up on that. Would they normally suspend during investigation then, before any disciplinary procedures have taken place?

I used to work in retail hr but it was years ago now and I can't remember the details!

The only thing proving his awareness is his receipt of the email. No proof he read the attachment.

However they can still refuse to take his word for it that this wasn't an intentional act to try to falsify numbers.

I'm so angry at them because they use a photo recognition system which is extremely fallible, DH has complained numerous times, and those failings are part of the reason he takes the photos wrong (e,g, he does close ups). I'm also angry that no one picked up on this before it became serious. Why did no one ask him if he understood the training, why did no one see his incorrect photos and say something!? He is such a hard worker and so good at his job, that this seems like a real injustice.

I hope it goes no further, and I hope he gets a better job, and I hope he tells them exactly why he wants to leave. They should be ashamed.

Preciousbane Sun 31-May-15 01:10:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

slithytove Sun 31-May-15 08:39:46

No, he did open it and there was a conference call about it that morning confused

Unexpected Mon 01-Jun-15 00:12:36

Was he actually on the conference call? So he missed an email and the subsequent discussion about it?

slithytove Mon 01-Jun-15 08:54:49

Don't know if he was on the call, just that there was one scheduled

slithytove Mon 01-Jun-15 19:34:57

Is there any requirement for them to do this within a certain timeframe? We go abroad in ten days, and prior to that DH has a huge important project which he can't afford to take time out of. Hate the thought of this hanging over our heads in holiday. DH is sick with worry.

His current manager spoke to him today and told him they will look for evidence he did it innocently. Surely they need to find evidence he did it intentionally?

slithytove Mon 29-Jun-15 16:36:33

So today DH got an invitation to disciplinary for gross misconduct.
He told me the other day he wants to harm himself so he doesn't have to go to work. I'm so worried about him.

They have found several accounts where DH has made this error and are using it as evidence that it was intentional. He admits his error but insists it wasn't intentional, but it's his word against theirs.

Is there anything we can do? I don't think he will cope with this.

Also they haven't given him a copy of the disciplinary procedures which as I understand it they ought to.

They are saying that the lack of training and follow up is not a problem as the photo taking is "basic knowledge" which DH should have. Which he should by my view is that if it is so important, someone should be checking understanding of the training!

We won't survive if he is sacked. We have a 2 year old and a 9 month old. Things are hard enough as it is.

Is it even possible to get a job after being sacked? Even if he resigns, his reference will say he left under investigation for gross misconduct. I don't know what to do. I feel sick.

Any advice would be so welcome.

emwithme Mon 29-Jun-15 17:28:08

Are there any accounts where he hasn't made the error? If he's following procedure X across the board (even though the procedure has been updated and now should be Y) then it's better for him than if he was doing X at half and Y at half.

slithytove Mon 29-Jun-15 19:16:59

He has made the error across all his accounts, because he thought he was doing it correctly.

Ive made a gp appointment for tomorrow. He is in bits, panicking visibly and saying terrible things. No idea how he will cope with a disciplinary. Thinking of joining unite.

Hoppinggreen Tue 30-Jun-15 10:25:22

I resigned from a large company having being suspended while under investigation for gross misconduct, my reference didn't mention it and i got another job straight away.
Many companies just give " x worked here between theses dates and resigned" references so it might not be a problem.
Sadly joining a union now won't help your DH.
I hope you both manage to find a way through this x

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