Help - Mental Health and Disciplinary(10 Posts)
Hope somebody can offer advice.
Friend is a senior Civil Servant. She is suffering from severe mental health issues, history of bullying from line manager, literally screaming down the phone, forced to take action that goes against HR policies for staff. She could no longer cope and is now off sick due to Severe Anxiety and Depression.
Whilst off she receives notification of an internal investigation that could result in dismissal. Basically she claimed expenses for visiting sites and did not sign in when arriving. Not signing in isn't unusual, you can basically show a library card and get in to the office. Based on this they are claiming she didn't attend and has mis-claimed expenses. Friends mental health problems are so severe she is being referred to a psychiatric team by GP.
There is a history of severe pressure on my friend by her manager. She is now being asked to respond to the allegations. She is so ill she feels it is all pointless. I'm trying to help. I hope a strong explanation of normal practice combined with friends mental health issues will help to avoid dismissal. She believes they are out to get rid of her and are prepared to go straight to dismissal.
Any advice is very much welcome.
The company would not be wise to just dismiss her without first going through the formal disciplinary process of investigation, reporting their investigation outcomes and right to appeal. They should follow their contractual obligations for disciplinary.
I would suggest your friend asks them for the specific dates of their allegations, ie when they are accusing her of falsifying the expense claims, if she made several site visits they are now contesting took place.
She should document in each case why she visited each site, who she saw (witnesses who could vouch for any meetings she had) so she is prepared to respond. It sounds like they are trying hard to remove her from post, so if she is innocent, the facts will help her defence. If they are intent on dismissing her, they need to be very certain or she could have a claim for unfair dismissal if they go ahead with that.
I urge her to seek advice from a solicitor at this stage, if she cannot provide proof. It may be best for her to seek a way out, which might include resigning if there is a risk she cannot provide any evidence of who she saw or why she needed to visit the sites.
I think your friend needs to get advice from an employment lawyer asap. The first discussion is usually free and then she can decide if she wants to use them. Many also work on a no win, no fee basis (so no financial cost to her unless they win).
Even if they hadn't started this investigation, my advice would be for her to raise a grievance with her employer. She needs to get how she has been treated on record (or an employer can use the excuse that she never told them and how can they help if they didn't know). A solicitor will advise on all of this. If her anxiety and depression have been caused by her job, this needs to be clearly stated.
I'm sure this is the last thing she needs and it's good she has you supporting her. Sadly a lot of employers get away with bad behaviour because people are too ill to deal with fighting back.
Whatever she does, she must NOT resign. That just plays into their hands. It sound like they want her out but it would be much better for her if she was able to agree a settlement with them. I was in a similar state to your friend and it was my GP who insisted that I mustn't resign. I listened to her and instead I spoke to an employment lawyer who helped me agree a settlement instead.
She has no evidence of the visits. It was simply part of the usual role.
They have asked for a response to the allegations of Gross Misconduct. From the little i've read they can dismiss immediately for Gross Misconduct. She feels this is a cheap way of getting her out. She doesn't have the strength to fight and want to just give up.
Basically if they dismiss for Gross Misconduct she gets nothing in the way of a pay off. If they dismiss due to her current ill health she would get almost a years's salary.
I just want her to end up in the best situation possible. Does anybody know how far they have to consider her mental health and the associated symptoms. She has a medical report that states she should be considered disabled due to the metal health issues.
Thank you for the responses so far xxx
If they dismiss due to her current ill health she would get almost a years's salary.
Not necessarily. If they were intent on getting rid of her cheaply they could take the matter down the disciplinary/capability route and argue she is not capable of doing the job she was hired to do. It would involve a protracted process which often brings the matter to a head anyway.
As regards Gross Misconduct allegation, if she is senior, doesn't she have any recollection of why she worked at the different sites? She may not have "proof" but she does need a viable explanation of what her intention was, in terms of site visits. She needs to take proper legal advice, especially if they are threatening disciplinary and she isn't up for standing her ground on their allegation.
Yes they should take into account health issues, but they may not loosen their grip as regards the issue of falsifying expense claims, if they believe they are right, hence the need for proper legal advice at this stage.
Surely when she visited these sites she would have seen people, or met people who could vouch for her attendance?
Sounds like you may not be getting the whole story here....
Legal expenses insurance as part of household cover?
It might be an outside chance but does her smartphone have locations enabled - this could prove where she was.
On a separate note, her employer would be rash not to follow a robust process (which shoyld have a apprals process if the worst happens) and if they don't she should raise a grievance.
Would she have done any follow up to any of her meetings. I.e. emailed anyone with content veryfying she met with them on set dates. I quite often do thank you for meeting me type emails and this is what I understand actions to be.....i'm sure others do similar.
Does she have a work log book or diary with actions etc from visits in?
Is she in a union? PCS/FDA? If so, she needs to speak to her branch officer asap.
The stuff about signing in/out of offices and expenses does sound a bit strange. As a Senior (and presumably time-served) CS it's just part of the drill to always have all the paperwork/procedures because its public money you are claiming. hence the allegation of Gross Misconduct.
Was this another CS office she was visiting? If so, she will have had to sign in and out for security.
What was the purpose of her visit - was it a meeting, an inspection etc. If a meeting, would the other party have any records?
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