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ET and unexpected letter from ACAS - good or indifferent?

(45 Posts)
HitAbove Mon 29-Jan-18 19:13:27

I've name changed for this.

I'm currently working my notice but have been signed off sick with work related stress so effectively have left work.

I started an employmemt tribunal claim against my employer for unfair dismissal. I asked for early concilliation through ACAS but my employer said no. They have until next Thursday to give their first response to my claim.

I came home to a letter from ACAS today saying they will be contacting me to discuss the possibility of reaching a settlement. Does anyone know if this means my employer is now potentially willing to come to an agreement? Or is it just standard?

I am absolutely willing to go all the way with this as I think I have a good case (but doesn't everyone I guess) but obviously if we can come to an arrangement before then then that would be preferable.

The letter has thrown me a bit.

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HitAbove Mon 29-Jan-18 19:16:40

By the way, I am going this alone. Unison have been as much use as a chocolate tea pot.

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retirednow Mon 29-Jan-18 19:19:27

Why don't you call acas and ask what the plan is. Would you be taking a financial settlement, you need to know how much and if you think,it's fair before,you accept anything.

HitAbove Mon 29-Jan-18 19:36:52

Hi Retirednow. No contact details on the letter so I just have to wait until they contact me. I just wondered if it was normal for ACAS contact the claiment after the early conciliation process failed.

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retirednow Mon 29-Jan-18 19:58:41

I don't know how it works, is there anything on their website, is there a reference number on your letter. My union were teapots tooconfused

daisychain01 Tue 30-Jan-18 06:00:52

You should have been assigned an ACAS conciliator as part of the Early Conciliation process. You will probably have corresponded with them by email or phone and they will have let you know if your employer wasn't willing to discuss a settlement to avoid Tribunal.

I would get on the phone to the Conciliator and mention you've received the letter. Ask them to give you information about what triggered the letter and say you are willing to listen to what your employer may have to offer. Don't accept anything, just find out what they want to do. Don't allow them to force you to accept anything without time to go away and think about the offer and conditions. You will want to make a counter offer. Normally they would reasonably give the employee 7 days to respond to a proposal.

Don't get your hopes up but it could be good news as long as you don't rush to accept their first offer, you can set the pace.

daisychain01 Tue 30-Jan-18 06:02:12

Almost always go for a financial settlement rather than Tribunal. Much better for many reasons.

daisychain01 Tue 30-Jan-18 06:04:28

If it's a discrimination claim, because you have a protected characteristic and you have evidence of their bad behaviour, you are in a strong position, which is probably why they now want to settle out of court.

zsazsajuju Tue 30-Jan-18 06:08:51

It’s standard for acas to contact you and say they will discuss trying to reach a settlement. That’s their role and part of the process. It unfortunately doesn’t mean that your employer has indicated that they are prepared to do so. If they haven’t filed this et3 yet though, they will be thinking of their options so might be prepared to make an offer.

Best of luck, it’s a tough thing to do.

HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 12:38:59

Thanks all.

I have a case worker but I got a 2 week out of office email this morning. It doesn't say if anyone is picking his emails up.

He had been in touch during the early concilliation process up to giving me my reference number so I could proceed to the ET. Not heard anything since.

Not a discrimination case but I think it is fairly straightforward. They made me redundant (they used those words and the policy) without following the correct procedure. My position still exists and I wasn't let go for capability, behaviour or ill health or anything like that. I can't go into details obviously. I've been trying to objectively think of the reasons they might justify their actions but I really can't.

As I say it's not about "my day in court" and they will never admit anything regardless of the outcome so yes, a settlement would be preferable but I will go to tribunal if I need to.

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GlorianaBanana Tue 30-Jan-18 12:44:11

Bar a few exceptions It's compulsory to go through pre claim conciliation before lodging a claim with the ET. The conciliator should contact you.

Although I'm unsure how you've managed to submit a claim for unfair dismissal if you are still employed and been through Acas confused.

Why are your union useless? Because they won't support your claim or because you cannot contact them?

GlorianaBanana Tue 30-Jan-18 12:44:40

Not been through Acas

GlorianaBanana Tue 30-Jan-18 12:47:51

Apologies, I've misread. If pre claim conciliation is over, once a claim is submitted to the ET Acas will still be notified as they will still try to assist in resolving a claim. They will contact you and your employer.

HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 17:24:14

Thanks again everyone.
ACAS called. Apparently my employer has emailed them to reiterate that they will not be settling. My employer needs to complete their response.
I knew they wouldn't back down and they will force me to take it to the hearing. The letter got my hopes up that they'd see sense though. I'm just disappointed they are making a point.
The really stupid thing is that the amount of man hours and legal costs and the wages of the people having to do the work their side is so much higher than any money I would ever get.

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HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 17:35:20

Union are useless because they have given me poor advice throughout this. I'm not saying they've told me things I haven't wanted to hear. I'm saying actual bad guidance eg they told me I should just quit. That would have left me with no come back, no right to benefits, something to explain on my CV and so on.
And the organisation tried to force me to sign a document saying they'd done nothing wrong. I was given half an hour warning of the meeting so no one was with me. They told me they wouldn't give me a reference and threatened to take me down disciplinary blah blah blah if I didn't sign. I refused. Unions response? Oh well. Never mind. Didn't even care that they'd forced me into a meeting with no rep.
Union have refused to support me to an ET. The reason being that the organisation offered to pay my notice. However to do that I would have had to have signed a disclaimer saying I wouldn't take any legal action at a later date. I refused to sign it as it was not in my interest, even my rep agreed that. However because I didn't sign it, the union are saying I refused to settle and won't support me!
Loads of other examples.

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Bluntness100 Tue 30-Jan-18 17:44:40

Ok. So separation bu mutual agreement is pretty much normal, you get the money and sign to say you won't take further action.

They also have a right to reduce their number of positions and people reapply for their roles effectively.

Where did they fall down in the process that makes you feel you have a case against them? Remember he said she said is irrelevant, uou need documentary evidence of what actually occurred.

HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 18:20:00

Hi Bluntness100.

It's a bit tough as I don't want to run the risk of someone from there seeing my posts and then accusding me of libel or something daft but:

1. I was moved from my team. I hadn't done anything wrong. I can't go into details but I guess it was like a personality clash. I didn't do anything wrong. No capability, ill health or bad behaviour. I have the documents from them outlining the reasons I was moved.

2. My actual role still exists in that team doing the same thing. There were 8 people in the team all with the same job description doing the same thing and same wage. No one else was changed. No discussions took place with anyone but me. It was just that I was moved because of point 1. I have that in writing.

3. The role I was moved into was temporary. My substansive role was still my original role. That never changed. It was always very clear the role was temporary until sometging else came up. No other jobs came up during my time in the temporary role. I was given notice of redundancy. My substansive role still existed. I hadn't had a new contract or anything like that.

During my notice period my company tried to force me into signing documents saying I won't take them to an ET and that they had always worked in my best interests. There was no benefit to me signing those. The only carrot they offered with the second one was that I would get paid my notice instead of working it but by that time I had already been signed off by my GP. The signing off was genuine. This followed them threatening to take me to a disciplinary if I didn't sign.

So, my argument is simply that they made me redundant when my role still existed. If there was a genuine need for redundancies (there wasn't but lets pretend there was) they didn't follow the correct procedure. They have a procedure too which they didn't follow.

The agreements they offered were not in my interest to sign. I had literally nothing to gain. I said I wouldn't sign those but I was willing to discuss one but they said it was those or nothing.

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daisychain01 Tue 30-Jan-18 19:11:34

You need to wait for their ET3, in response to your ET1. They will give their reasons to the court substantiating decisions they made, which will be worded as a response to your claim. It will at least give you a clear sense of where they are at, and whether they have a strong defence.

If, after seeing their ET3 you still feel strongly you want to take them to Tribunal I recommend you seek legal advice. A solicitor may suggest a merits assessment, as this will give you the clearest indication possible whether your claim is strong or if it doesn't hold water sufficiently to invest the money in moving forward.

Some questions to consider -
- What redundancy process step/s did you expect them to follow, that they didn't?
- In addition to your notice period, did they also offer any redundancy payment (as they called it "redundancy")
- were you eligible for statutory redundancy, how many years' unbroken service had you completed (> 2 years)?

They could argue they had business reasons to move you to a different role and meanwhile they tried but failed to obtain an alternative role for you in the meantime. It's about the wording they've used, and what they maintain they've done and business rationale for why they made those decisions, that should become clearer when you read their ET3.

Although it's difficult to see the wood for the trees, you need to take out the emotion and be pragmatic about what your claim is about, as the points you've outlined don't give any strong clues as to what they've done wrong in employment law terms.

"Forcing" you to sign a form could be reinterpreted as encouraging you to take the offer and part amicably. Yes, they ought to have given you time to review the offer document through a solicitor, but you could have asked them for that time and they would have been duty bound to pay you to get a solicitor to look it over and comment on whether it was a fair offer. If not, you could have made a counter offer.

HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 19:52:43

Thanks Daisychain01

I know I've not given you much to go on and I'm sorry if I wasn't clear what my point was.

Essentially, my post still exists but they made me redundant. I thought only a post could be made redundant, not a person?

No ill health, capability or behaviour issues. No organisational changes.

Over 12 years service.

I can't bring up the agreements they proposed even if I wanted because they were all done without prejudice. Plus there were 8 of them and just me in the meetings so it's my word against theirs so that won't go anywhere. I just mentioned it above for context.

I'm actually in a good place right now. Much much stronger than I was. I wouldn't be doing this if I was still in the mess I was before and I think I can look at it somewhat objectively.

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HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 20:01:07

I did make a counter offer btw. They wouldn't even discuss it. I also proposed an offer prior to contacting ACAS. I said I wanted to do early concilliation but they have said no all the way through.

They bought up a potential agreement through my redundancy period but honestly they had nothing for me. It was literally just me signing a document to say I won't take them to an ET for unfair dismissal. If I'd signed I wouldn't have got anything.

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HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 20:02:11

By not getting anything, I mean I wouldn't have got anything that I wasn't already getting so all I would have done was give up any rights.

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Bluntness100 Tue 30-Jan-18 20:47:46

Op, there is some complexity here.

They moved you to a new role and you accepted thr new role. As such, thr old role was no longer yours. You cannot claim it was. Unless the documentation says you were moving back to thr original role within a time period. It does not seem this commitment was made to you.

You were then made redundant from the new role. Which end dated and the company was unable to find you an alternate role and thus had to do a single person reduancy event.

I think you need to see an employment lawyer, because your argument is you were made redundant from a role that still exists. But you were not, you were moved and accepted that move. You were made redundant from the new role. This they can do. You were not made redundant from your old role, as this was not your job any more.

I do think you need to seek legal advice, see an employment lawyer and should have seen one before you rejected the mutual agreement. The key point will be which role were you made redundant from.

Why do you think the old job is still yours, even though you were in a new position? This is thr confusing part. It is not your job if you were moved. Your job is thr last position you filled.

Bluntness100 Tue 30-Jan-18 21:14:06

Actually, how long were you in the new role? There is a law I think which is uou cant move an employee to a new position and Immediately make them redundant.

headintheproverbial Tue 30-Jan-18 21:16:06

This is just standard. ACAS is a conciliation service first and foremost. Worth engaging and have a think now about what you want of if you are prepared to settle.

HitAbove Tue 30-Jan-18 21:46:09

Sorry. I don't mean to drip feed but I seem to be. I appreciate your help and time.

I'm not bothered about not signing the settlement. I wouldn't have got a penny from it or a reference or anything. There honestly was nothing in there to benefit me. Not one thing. So even if this crashes and burns I've not lost anything by not signing it. As I said, I tried to negogiate it and they refused.

I get what you are saying but here is why I think I have a case:
- I was in substantive role for 12+ years.
- Something happened and I was moved into the temp role.
- The temp role wasn't actually a job as such. It was the equivilent of a special project. It didn't exist prior to me and won't exist once my notice has finished. I was/am in there for 3 months. I was in it for one month and then given my notice. It was never a proper job. It was something that was created to give me something to do for 3 months.
- I never had a job description or signed anything for the temp tole. Throughout this period my substantive role was always referred to as such. I also didn't change managers or anything like that. I was still sending all my work evidence/leave requests etc to my substantive manager although I was working for a different team. My job title was the same although the job and team were completely different.
- According to my job description and paperwork I was still in my substansive role and never left it. The temp role never really existed if you see what I mean? We never discussed the possibility of me going back to my substantasive though.
- I was actually put into the temp role without much discussion. I helpfully can't go into details but it was along the lines of "if you're at work, you are not going back to your team. You are doing the temp job".

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