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Investigation after Maternity

(33 Posts)
GD12 Sat 11-Aug-18 22:18:26

Basically Ive returned to work after mat leave and was told by HR the day before I returned that I had an investigation meeting as it was alleged I falsified my figures the month before i started mat leave . I know I didn't and broke down with shock at this. Here's where it gets strange. My works HR files are unprotected on the work system (I can easily access them for some reason just by going into the HR folder in directory tree, I found this out by looking for the works HR policy!) and from what I can see basically my line manager is accusing me of falsifying figures and really sticking the knife in. What's even more strange is, in the investigation meeting they've had, the minutes are a mess and fully of lies and wrong numbers that I can easily disprove, my line manager even recommends how he wants me disciplined, before they even hear my side and the fact he's not the investigating staff member! . There are some genuine mistakes that I've made but how can I prove they're genuine mistakes? They did say that there was no other suspicions from other months, only the month before mat leave. I worked up to 3 days before I was admitted to hospital ill and induced. Throughout my final mat leave month I did overtime and was highly stressed as it was the busiest month, is it any wonder I made a few mistakes? Also, why haven't they looked at any other staff that month as I'm certain they'd find similar if not more mistakes? I also worked long hours with no maternity risk assessment, exhausted and eventually ill. The whole things a mess and I can't help feel I'm being set up for a kangaroo court. Does anyone have advice on this?

daisychain01 Sun 12-Aug-18 23:06:12

Are they accusing you of falsifying your work hours?

If you're saying there were mistakes but they were genuine ones, then it will be your word against theirs unless you have specific reasons you can give as to why you're certain about the errors. Or if you have witnesses who can vouch for you?

NicoAndTheNiners Sun 12-Aug-18 23:19:01

If it’s just one month then that stands in your favour that it was a mistake, it’s not systematic cheating.

Can other staff access this folder? If So I would threaten them with reporting them for a GDPR breach!

GD12 Sun 12-Aug-18 23:52:35

No, it's actual financial figures(commission) I can prove why I made some mistakes with emails in my inbox they can't see so it looks at the moment to them as if I made some changes for no reason (which is not true). Some are genuine errors made on my last day before I finished for mat leave and 2 days before I was admitted to hospital(i was 41 weeks pregnant). To be honest, I've now found I've been penalised financially as some errors have been put down as a staff error (me) but it was my line managers fault for not chasing certain things up whilst I was on mat leave. Is this not illegal? To be financially penalised for something I couldn't change whilst on mat leave?
I don't know if everyone can access the HR files as I've not told anyone as I've just found out I can! I've got the investigation meeting on Thur and I'm going to tear them to pieces. Is this the best way to go?!

GD12 Sun 12-Aug-18 23:57:22

I should say, this is 4or5 errors out of 100+ pieces of work! It's not a lot and I'm sure other staff would have the same amount if not more for any month! HR gave me.no.maternity risk assessment or provisions for long hours etc, I was doing 10-12 hour days and also asked by my line manager to go back to work at 8pm after an emergency hosp appt when I was 38 weeks! How can you work to 100% under this?

NicoAndTheNiners Mon 13-Aug-18 06:43:26

Point all this out to them but calmly. Are you in a union?

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 07:42:34

No, I'm not in a union which is annoying. I'm going to go through everything and hopefully alarm bells wil ring with the HR person at the meeting and they'll back off. I'm so angry now part of me wants to start implicating my line manager (she even apologised by email.to me last week for missing work and me being financially penalised). I'm not sure though as I need the job and don't want to put their backs up so they force me out.

CherryPavlova Mon 13-Aug-18 07:55:30

I’d be very wary. HR will not necessarily be fair and will support the corporate line as a default setting.
Can you go above your line manager and speak with their line manager as a matter of urgency? Don’t be defensive. Go in hard about discrimination and protected characteristics. Have someone with you definitely- a solicitor if you could afford or know one.

Do some digging and ask friends about any errors they’ve made as a comparator. Could you see that from the files? Agree re GDPR breach.
Tell HR you consider this harassment as they’ve already suggested disciplinary action before any investigation is complete. Demand an independent person conducts the investigation.

I say this having had to investigate several disciplinary concerns which whenever have reached that stage and where officious line managers have bullied staff by starting investigations that should have been resolved locally.

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 08:37:48

Thanks.

I was going to leave GPDR breach for incase I got sacked, a last effort.

I will go in hard then. I agree, I think HR etc will try and discipline me but that's unfair as I genuinely haven't done anything. The company's investigation meeting doesn't allow for someone else to be at the investigation meeting, only.the discipline meeting.

Yes, absolutely. My line manager could have come to me and asked me why things have been done but for whatever reason she has went above me. They haven't even told me what the allegations are and if I didn't have access to the HR files I'd be going in blind. It's only because I have access I've spent hours looking through emails and invoices and worked out what's happened or what has went on. Can't help thinking it's discriminatory and unfair.

tessilate Mon 13-Aug-18 08:42:52

How stressful. Although it's not as if not being in a union is something outside of your control, everyone should be in one even when you think these things won't happen to you.

I work closely with a union and they will accept people in some cases even when disciplinary action is underway. It's worth contacting one relevant to you because this sounds quite messy (i.e. I didn't make those errors but I did make those other ones)

Daisymay2 Mon 13-Aug-18 08:48:29

Firstly download any relevant documents including earlier months while there was no debate. Send them to yourself at home.
Record all the hours worked before you went on mat leave.
Also GPDR is relevant to a point but even before it came into force HR folder should have had individuals files password protected. They need to prove that no one had amended your record.

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 09:06:04

Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm going to also ask for comparable staff error rates for that month at the meeting. There's 200+ sales staff and errors are totally normal and get picked up the next month. Why am I being singled out on the busiest month, the month before mat leave? It stinks to me and I'm sure my LM is tryjng to take me down or at least bring me down a peg or two (her comments about only.wanting me disciplined). I thihk she wants to try and contol me as I like to say I'm good at my job.

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 14:59:12

I have a few points, not to challenge what you've posted, but just perspectives:

To be honest, I've now found I've been penalised financially as some errors have been put down as a staff error (me) but it was my line managers fault for not chasing certain things up whilst I was on mat leave. Is this not illegal? To be financially penalised for something I couldn't change whilst on mat leave?

It isn't illegal to withhold a payment while investigations are going on. They should be clear with you however that if they subsequently determine you are in the clear, that you will be paid the amount owing, according to your contract of employment.

Please don't place any blame on your manager, it will come across badly like you're trying to deflect. They will see you as someone who isn't prepared to be accountable for their actions.

I've got the investigation meeting on Thur and I'm going to tear them to pieces. Is this the best way to go?!

No, it is not. It would be far better to attend the meeting without any predetermined goal to be belligerent or aggressive. You will gain more ground if you remain quietly confident, professional, and willing to listen to their perspective. You should acknowledge mistakes were made (a 5% error rating is likely to be viewed harshly). Remind them you were in extenuating circumstances, re your late stage pregnancy, and that under normal conditions your work record has been strong. Clarify it isn't an "excuse", it's an explanation.

I wouldn't throw any colleagues under a bus by saying "well, look at all these other people's work, they make mistakes too...". That won't come across well.

It's a very stressful time, but hold your nerve, stay factual and if you want to continue working there, think about how you can maintain the working relationship while still standing your ground.

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 15:29:54

Re my comment above on them withholding your payment, I've had a further thought.....

is there any policy or even some clause / statement in your contract that covers what actions they are entitled to take under such circumstances? It depends on whether they've literally docked your salary arbitrarily with no explanation or any process having been followed.

This is definitely something to bring up with them at the meeting, along the lines of "I noticed that my salary has been reduced by £xx, please can you clarify the basis for this?"

I've just noticed your latest post re I'm going to also ask for comparable staff error rates for that month at the meeting. There's 200+ sales staff and errors are totally normal and get picked up the next month

Yes, this is a perfectly reasonable approach - if there is a standard agreed process for error adjustments, then they shouldn't be singling you out compared to other staff. Does your company set quality/performance standards for this work as it seems it is a core activity, with many staff involved? Is your c5% within their allowable threshold of acceptance, and are other people's? That has to be the best way to demonstrate fairness.

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 15:32:05

then they shouldn't be singling you out compared to other staff unless (they might argue) your rating was 5% whereas other people's is 1-2%

Might be worth doing some digging around?

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 15:32:56

are 1-2% sorry!

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 16:37:43

OK, I've just learned more today. My error rate according to them was 5.2% for the month. I now know what they're accusing me of because I asked and they've told me. 3 of the accusations are totally false and are factually, easily disproved by looking at the invoice system (it seems they haven't done their homework). 1 of he alleged "frauds" I can show why I did it with an email and 1 is my mistake but I can show my workings. Realistically the error rate taking the 3 off (their mistakes) is 2%. Mistakes and errors are common place and you usually just fix them the next month but because I was on mat leave I couldn't.

The "staff error" where I'm being financially penalised is separate to this. They are putting down certain pieces of work which they genuinely believe is an error to me but my Line manager and invoicing have now admitted its their fault(they didn't chase things up) but im still having the commision removed from me.

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 17:19:55

Just reading above also. There's no performance error targets and I'm certain they don't keep error rates for staff. Any errors you make comes off you r pay in commision the next month so you're never financially up. They're more concerned about sales conversions, targets etc and for 10 years I've never been below mine. I'm not joking when I say this but there's no process for who puts down an error to you, it's generally done by a line manager deciding on the hoof what's fair. I argued that because I was on mat leave I shouldn't be financially penalised for something I didn't do but the invoicing manager still penalised me and didn't listen.

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 18:13:05

Gosh GD it sounds a very precarious process, with a manager being able to make an arbitrary judgement on the fly. There should be an objective method of checking that the correct calculations are made, and any errors allocated accurately and fairly, not just based on a person's say-so It must feel like being on a knife edge.

They should follow their own internal process for investigation (have they indicated they are following their disciplinary policy?) and this would include giving you a copy of the policy.

They should confirm your right to be accompanied to the meeting , and that your companion is there to give you moral support and take meeting notes etc.but cannot talk on your behalf.

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 18:18:15

Are mistakes being made due to the high volumes of transactions you have to process, or is it the complexity of the calculations? Or because the information you need to perform the calculation changes or there are gaps in the info? Etc etc

i.e. could you highlight systematic issues that are standing in the way of increased accuracy, that you can suggest need to be improved, to avoid these issues in future?

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 18:37:41

The major error I made was because i was tired, it was the day I went on mat leave, I was exhausted and ill and I was done with work. I took a piece of wrong information I believed to be correct and entered it into the system without checking. That's the main one and I admit I made that mistake . The company isn't financially down as its already come off me but they're claiming I did it to financially benefit myself (at the time). As I said, it's a 2% error rate in the whole month so why does it look like Ive suddenly done it on purpose(other months they checked are clear) , there wouod be no point and worth more than my job? It makes no sense and I believe unfair (why didn't they chack all the staff, only me) My line manager didn't contact me informally to try to ask me what happened whilst I was on mat leave or after, he went straight to the big boss accusing me. That's it. Its nuts, really.

MarchingOrders Mon 13-Aug-18 18:41:25

Sounds like your boss is pissed off that you dared take maternity.
Make sure if you have another meeting someone goes in with you and collect the correct figures. Take screen shots etc in case you suddenly aren't allowed access to your email (happened to me).
Can you join a union now?

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 19:40:04

The more I read, the more I think you have been severely disadvantaged due to your pregnancy and your health condition around that time. You were also disadvantaged by the fact you then went on Mat Leave so couldn't sort the matter out with any sense of continuity. Had you been another member of staff not on Mat Leave and not having the challenges of fatigue at the final stages, it is highly likely this situation would have been under control.

I'd mention the above points during their assessment, they are very relevant to the context of your case.

Btw, my above comment about the amount of errors being made, apologies if I wasn't clear - when I said "you" I actually meant all staff working to that process. From your description, errors happen across the board, as a function of the process and there seem to have been some real challenges, so not just you, but the process itself and the information flow.

( fyi process improvement is one of my specialisms so I'm always on the lookout for comments about errors, information flows and methods of evaluation of processes. They are making you work under serious pressure from how you've described it.

GD12 Mon 13-Aug-18 20:00:06

Thanks for that. Yes, if I was another member of staff noone would have been none the wiser(same as a normal month) and everything at the moment would be the same. My line manager has picked up some "errors" that invoicing sent him and ran with it.
The HR process is quite sketchy, only that there has to be an investigation meeting then of necessary a disciplinary. I want to shut this down at the investigation meeting and end it. If I'm dismissed because of this then I will go to a tribunal. The company has been prosecuted for unfair dismissal before at a tribunal but they're "improving" their HR dept.
I'm just sickened with the whole thing. My line manager is acting like I'm the best thing since sliced bread and has said nothing. But as I said I need to pay my mortgage with a new baby and would be in real trouble if fired.

daisychain01 Mon 13-Aug-18 20:30:12

They will have to be living under a rock if they don't know the implications of dismissing you immediately after your Mat Leave under the circumstances you describe in this thread.

You could note your main 'killer points' in chronological order so you can go in "word perfect" on the timescales and circumstances around your pg, your health and challenges with fatigue, and the fact you had to work to the same level of intensity right up to the time of your Mat Leave with no reduction in intensity to accommodate your needs, which led to errors being made, for which you didn't seek to gain financially. Your service history is testament to your integrity and honesty. Etc.

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