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I am trying to claim constructive dismissal - feel just awful - anyone been there?

(17 Posts)
wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 14:49:28

Don't really know what to expect. I'm a SENCO, a couple of parents have complained about provision, rather than discuss the matter and come to an agreement my head decided to investigate pending disciplinary action. Redundancies are happening due to falling roles and him over staffing, we are in deficit. It got too much and I took some time out, was signed off sick for three weeks prior to holidays. While I was away he advertised for an acting SENCO with a promise of funding training and recruited another teacher whose job was threatened with redundancy. I returned after Easter and handed in my notice. I've had very little support, SEN isn't a priority and I've had enough - planned leave date was 31 Aug. All good last week then Monday was called into a meeting and told I could avoid unpleasant disciplinary if I left and accepted pay until end of May, he suggested might be best for my health and then told me there had been another complaint (no details). I declined, but feel like a real kick in the teeth. I'm feeling wretched again. Have asked union for assistance and awaiting docs appointment. Its all very scary.

Apologies for lack of paragraphs.

IceMaiden73 Thu 21-Apr-16 14:55:13

How long have you been there? x

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 14:58:31

This is the third year as SENCO, I've been at the school since 2007.

MiffleTheIntrovert Thu 21-Apr-16 15:01:54

Can you elaborate on the complaints?

MrsBlimey Thu 21-Apr-16 15:18:28

Sorry to hear this is happening. thanksbrewwine
Try these practical steps:

1. Speak to Union rep if you have one and trust them or contact main union and speak to s/o in legal team - Union needs to be notified of the problem.

2. Get free half hr appt with local employment solicitor - they can usually advise better in legal issues like this as constructive dismissal is tricky to show

3. Check home insurance policy to see if it includes legal expenses which would Cher fees for taking on a case like this

4. Get everything in writing and keep an in-going log of everything said, emailed etc. This will help later down the line.

5. Try Citizens Advice - they are a great source of support. Their website is very good explaining what needs to be done etc.

6. Take as much time off as you need - sounds like a deeply unpleasant and unprofessional way for the school to handle the situation.

Sorry if this is a bit prescriptive! Similar situation here recently and this advice worked a treat for me and helped to keep me sane when all around me was flip-flopping and crumbling.

Best of luck and keep us posted. Xxx

MrsBlimey Thu 21-Apr-16 15:19:20

Not sure why my phone decided to say Cher there - was meant to be "cover legal fees"...!

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 16:04:55

Thanks, I spoke to my union on Monday and sent all their paperwork to them today. I can't get an appointment with my doctor until next Thursday.

Lanark2 Thu 21-Apr-16 16:17:46

God managers can be utter dickheads, how is saving 3months of pay, but triggering legal action, and avoiding a safe end, with cover, be any sort of sane decision. Sounds like the prick has let his personal feelings make him make an utterly stupid decision. Presume the disciplinary was for sick leave. What an utter useless idiot! That in itself will waste management and staff time on something utterly unproductive. I don't know if it's sensible tactically (union will advise) but in threatening you like this is breach of contract in that it predicts a negative outcome of a disciplinary investigation when it hasn't even started. Why the hell managers can't think properly is beyond me.

On the other hand, by doing this, he has already suggested a one month settlement for leaving now, so he is, as the phrase goes, opening negotiations.

One thing to ask union rep is that you could request six months pay and guaranteed reference. This would anchor the negotiations to put half way between the two positions at four months.

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 16:51:13

Disciplinary refers to parental complaint, two actually, one regarding exam access arrangements and I really feel I couldn't have done more for the student in this incidence. One regarding late submission of an application for EHCP - I didn't feel we had the evidence, I ran out of EP time and couldn't see another way of getting more. I should have shouted louder at SLT to get some support or additional advice regarding it - but I don't feel it's severe enough to get a gross misconduct judgement - and feel both would be better settled by meeting with parents rather than making formal accusations but there we go. On Monday I was told another complaint had been made, but given no details about it. I don't have a workplace rep, so am dealing with the union regional office.
Bottom line is though there's no money, applications are down, results aren't looking great, I'm sure the head is under great pressure from the MAT, I know the MAT are under pressure from DfE. I've been a bit naive and haven't covered myself sufficiently.
I was so happy when I resigned last week, I really thought that I'd get a slap on the wrists for the complaint, be allowed to train up the new SENCO, do some actual useful work for the children, like I'm being paid to. Feel like a mug for going back after Easter and not stretching out being signed off as long as possible.

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 16:53:33

Part of the agreement with the union is that I don't get any alternative legal advice.

MrsBlimey Thu 21-Apr-16 16:56:11

If you've resigned already then you probably know you have three months minus one day to bring proceedings in the employment tribunal, and before then you have to have appealed anything possible and submitted grievances as far as they can go in line with the school's procedures, attempted to negotiate a settlement and also used ACAS conciliation service, so it helps to get cracking as soon as possible. There is not generally extra allowance given for being signed off sick.

Good luck! Xx

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 16:57:29

Lanark I would be happy to settle at getting paid until the end of Aug. I can't be asked to leave unless I'm dismissed for misconduct before then. So the teacher replacing me who was going to get redundancy would have been in contract until 31 Aug. I can't realistically get another job in teaching until Sept 1st.

MrsBlimey Thu 21-Apr-16 16:58:19

If the union is saying you can't get legal advice from elsewhere then I'd be very wary as I know of teachers whose union reps were hopeless and weren't aware of time limits for bringing certain types of proceedings and they missed out on their claims. Tribunal didn't allow them to argue negligence of Union advisors....

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 17:02:15

I resigned in good faith believing I had a right to work my notice period, I've not told the school I am going to try to go to tribunal - I'm awaiting advice from my union. I really hope that they will settle before we get that far. They said I was under no obligation to accept the offer to leave early. I don't feel I can trust them, I don't feel able to go in. I'll just keep crying. Its so rubbish.

wonderstuff Thu 21-Apr-16 17:06:12

Really? Bugger. What is the point of a union if they don't represent you well? I'm hoping given that I've gone straight to the regional office and they claim to have specialist legal knowledge they will be good to their word. I pay my subs to have access to legal protection if I need it. I can't risk paying out elsewhere. Financially we would survive if I had to leave end of May, but I don't want to use hard earned savings to pay for this.

Lanark2 Sat 23-Apr-16 21:14:51

The good thing about the 'offer to leave' is that that shows a will to dismiss, which is unfair, and could also be taken as an inducement to resign, which again indicates a will to constructively dismiss, and could be a good position to negotiate a midway between what a constructive dismissal payout would be. You have to make a reasonable attempt to find alternative work for this to illustrate you have been disadvantaged. If you are unable, or its realistic that new roles would only start in September, and especially if you secure a position that does, then your disadvantage would be paid until end of August anyway, and their 'win' is that they save the legal costs too.

You may be able to withdraw your resignation and ask for investigation of the disciplinary issues, which will take until end of August at least as lots of paperwork will need to be shared and investigated, meetings scheduled, witnesses called etc. You wouldn't be unreasonable to expect suspension on full pay during investigation.

I do know that the trick is to ask them for all the info and complaints they have and stay silent until they have given you everything (apart from perhaps negotiation options) so that a. You can prepare responses and b. So they can't add evidence later. One of my employers faked and added evidence, which made them look like utter arses at tribunal.

Get lots of advice, you don't have to follow it, or appoint, but I got initial advice from several sources, but used only the union for formal advice and representation. Just don't tell them, or have non union legal people communicate with employer.

Also keep it as an intellectual exercise and as simple as possible, and allocate specific days to new employment search too.

wonderstuff Sat 23-Apr-16 22:35:49

Thank you.

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