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Possible constructive dismissal(10 Posts)
Hi all, would appreciate any opinion/input/advice especially from those working in HR/legal sectors. My situation is as follows:
1. Working 20yrs same employer in a specialist role. Same female manager throughout this time. She has a particular management style. Some minor issues with her over the years but I just got on with it.
2. My post - management position specialist role. No issues with my attendance, reliability, etc.
3. My son (mild special needs diagnosed 2016) needed support so I took unpaid parental leave for 10wks in summer 2016 to work with him - good outcome.
4. Issue last year 2017 when teams being restructured - manager said I would be given a particular role, I said ok but pay review needed. She later changed her mind and gave me entirely different portfolio citing “better for my professional development” and my “family circumstances” referring to my son and my mother (Alzheimer’s). I told her not acceptable to bring my family into things when allocating work. Portfolio she intended giving me was given to someone without children. I let the matter sit.
5. Assigned management of a service Nov 2017. Huge issues - backlog of appts, inadequate resources, no systems/processes, system to capture activity data not configured correctly, multiple service standards/KPIs, no prior monitoring of wait times etc. Got busy turning it around.
6. Jan 2018 my Mum suddenly ill - took one day off. Had not availed of carers leave in eight years.
7. Jan 2018 week after Mum ill had meeting and required to present activity data. Coffee shop afterwards with manager. She stated concerns about my performance, citing lack of robust activity data/graphs for meeting and a project I had managed 4yrs ago. Went on to ask how I was planning to account for my absence on day Mum ill, I said carers leave, she said not necessarily, effectively denying me the leave. I said I would take it as TOIL and she agreed. Contrasts with colleague who was offered day off when her pet was sick and dying. Accept her criticism re: activity data/graphs but was battling to keep service going with little resources. Bringing up stuff from 4yrs ago seemed unreasonable. Ended up crying my eyes out in the coffee shop. A humiliating experience.
8. Two days later another meeting. Told her I wasn’t happy with what happened in coffee shop and asked that she put in writing my performance issues. She said there were other things wrong with my performance and then cited a project from 3yrs ago. First time I knew she had a problem with it plus I had got terrific feedback from senior executive team. Totally confused so I asked for clarification. She gave a one line response that didn’t even give me any clue as to what I was meant to have done wrong. Plus it was 3yrs ago and she said nothing at the time. She went on to say “I know it has upset you when I have mentioned it before but you are the mother of 4 children”. I asked what that had to do with anything. She asked if my focus could really be on my job. For info, I have come in on my days off, stayed late for meetings, covered for colleagues, not availed of carers leave in 8yrs, not had a single sick day in 2yrs, missed kids events in favour of work.
9. Another meeting, my manager and a senior colleague decide to stop a key element of the service I was managing. Customer not happy, called a meeting citing breach of contract. Manager emails me to say no need for me to attend netting. Senior colleague comes in and makes repeated attempts to stop me going to meeting. I fear that I am somehow going to be blamed for their decision. I go to meeting. Service is reinstated.
10. My health suffers over subsequent months - mainly anxiety. I continue to work and deliver service. Fearful of confronting my manager I do nothing for a while.
11. June 2018 I put in writing to her my issues (as above) and ask again for written response about my alleged performance issues. We do have a capability/performance policy which she never followed. No reply.
12. Meeting 2 weeks later she denies receiving my email. I brief her on the content and ask her to explain. No apology, no accountability for actions.
13. I email employment law dept and say that I intend to resign due to managers behaviour. Meeting with E/Law outlying options - mediation or formal grievance.
14. Contacted by my managers boss to discuss. I tell her all.
15. Invited to a meeting July 2018 - my manager, her boss, me, my union rep. No resolution. Allegations of poor performance were reframed as “drawing parallels”. No reason given for denying carers leave - distraction by saying she had shown flexibility over the years. No apology for referencing my family. Union rep did not challenge anything.
16. Resigned last week. Stated my reasons in letter as detailed above - irretrievable breakdown of trust as a result. Said I feel pushed out.
17. No real attempts by senior management to avert this situation over the preceding months. A simple apology and accountability shown would have made s the difference.
18. My area performing well. Great reviews by customer.
19. Employer parent dept failing - not meeting KPIs at all, poor audit. 3 staff took early retirement. Two resignations in past week inc my own. Loss of 5 experienced staff in matter of months.
20. My confidence knocked but have been offered a new job. However it is only 3 days pw so I will suffer a loss of income.
21. Feel I have been treated shabbily, feel a sense of injustice. Recognise that taking a case is stressful. I feel so disposable after many years of service and I worked all summer with no annual leave to keep the service running. I love my job and I’m heartbroken to leave. Despite my family circumstances with my son and mother I have maintained regular and reliable service. My boss has been unable to substantiate the things she has said. My overriding impression is that there’s a personal resentment towards me. Colleagues say my boss is threatened by me although I am not after her job. Part of me wants to just get away and start afresh with the new job where hopefully I will be valued. Part of me feels my manager/employer should be held to account for allowing this. Sorry for the essay?! Your views would be appreciated.
A lot going on here! To clarify, what has actually led to your resignation? That your manager slides to poor performance and didn’t provide evidence / specific feedback, that last year they were going to change your portfolio, that they were going to change your client’s service, that your manager said your day off may not be covered by carers leave...?
As I say, a lot going on here and I can understand your frustrations. I’m just trying to pin point what your claim to a tribunal is - you need to evidence what it was that caused your to resign without any other options.
Also unclear is whether you filed a grievance? If so what was the outcome?
Your best investment right now would probably be a couple of hours of an independent employment lawyer, to establish what the legal position would be. There's a lot in your post which I wouldn't like either, would consider unfair or unprofessional ...... but whether they constituted a breach of law is a separate question.
I had a similar (but different) situation earlier in the year ...... and after the initial feelings of anger, disappointment etc, I'm now feeling it's the best thing to happen to me. Yes, I could probably have pursued some more legal avenues than I did. But you know what, it's only a few months down that I can see how stress & pressure I was under. You'll probably not thank me for saying this now, but you may well find that leaving is the best thing ever, once you get your head around some of the practicalities of job-hunting, perhaps earning less etc.
But, speak with a lawyer to see what's feasible to pursue. Good luck!
The chances of winning a constructive dismissal case are exceptionally low - at best less than 3%. The chances of winning one when you haven't even completed the grievance procedure? Probably nil. It sounds like a pretty horrible situation, and perhaps managers should have done more - but so should you. You could have submitted a grievance, and if that didn't work you could have appealed the outcome. Those are the sorts of things that a tribunal would look for, lacking any really substantial breach (such as an assault by the employer).
Without going through the grievance process very difficult. They should not really be going on about things that happened a few years ago .
Thank you everyone. I do appreciate your feedback.
It is true that I did not follow the formal grievance process. I did however put my grievances in an email and have asked for a response in writing - never received.
My main issues can be categorised as follows:
- unsubstantiated allegations of poor performance;
- unfair treatment in relation to refusal of emergency leave and references to me being a mother. Our equality legislation here in NI covers individuals with/without dependants.
I am most upset about the family stuff. I have gone out of my way to show flexibility over many years and have never abused the system. When things were tough with my Mum and son a couple of years ago I didn’t go on sick leave citing stress as many employees do. Instead I took unpaid leave.
I think my manager has been completely out of order on the family stuff and has somehow created this false narrative in her head about working mothers.
I do accept that I have not followed the grievance route. I suppose that the meeting with my union rep, boss and boss’s manager gave me a taste of what that might involve - a lot of distraction, saying the performance issues she alleged were her way of “drawing parallels”???, said I could not take criticism, told lies. Union rep said that grievance could end up being a case of “he said she said”. All I have ever wanted is for my boss to acknowledge that she said things she should not and apologise. That has not been forthcoming.
I think what I have experienced is a form of bullying and harassment. However I accept that identifying a specific breach for the purposes of a CD claim is difficult. I mostly want to just move on and not let my bad experiences eat me up any more. My immediate colleagues and those further afield in other depts have been immensely supportive and have said that my leaving is such a loss to our service.
I am devastated but felt I could not go on with such a loss of trust in my manager. I am hoping that I will look back in 6mths and realise it was all for the best but right now it hurts that I’m so dispensable. Given the loss of many other experienced staff in recent months I thought that my manager or her superiors would sort an apology to retain me.
It is sad that you have resigned after 20 years. When you were stressed could you have taken holiday, sick or unpaid leave instead ? However, if you are feeling under appreciated, perhaps it was better to have left. I am sure that you have lots of transferrable skills, can you use any of your contacts to get a new job ?
Yes that is the prevailing mood. I feel very sad to leave a job that I love. Applied for another job though - first interview in years and I got it! I just need to lick my wounds and move on. Maybe this will be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Congratulations on your new job. Your old company, it is their loss !
mim painfully, when you've worked for the same company for so many years, they don't value long service or contribution.
Look on the positive side. The reason you have secured the new role so quickly is that the new company values your longevity of service and a strong cv with the skills they are looking for. Even if this next job is a stepping stone to other roles, think of it in terms of "getting back on the horse" after falling off. You've overcome the fear of change, and that is a confidence boost on itself. All the best.