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Wrongly Advised By My Union - What can I do?

(13 Posts)
mogwai Thu 19-Jul-07 00:48:46

I used to work for the NHS. I worked for them for nine years before applying for a career break to accompany my husband to Australia. He's a doctor spending a year here as part of his (also NHS) training. We are currently in Sydney.

The NHS trust I worked for rejected my application for a career break despite the fact I fitted all their criteria for granting one. They said they wanted to change the structure of the department and couldn't guarantee my job on my return.

We went to a grievance procedure which began in Janaury. My grievance was in two parts, (1) the decision and (2) the way my manager had handled it, as she had witheld important information from the people who had to make the decision and this had also delayed the process of them deciding whether I could go to Australia so that by the time they finally said "no" it was too late for us to back out.

The union advised me to resign and they would hear the grievance in my absence.

The first part of the grievance was held on Janaury 2nd and they were supposed to respind within 5 working days but in fact didn't respond until the middle of march, and only after I'd prompted the union into asking them for a decision.

After that I e-mailed my regional union rep to ask what to do next but he took ages to reply (weeks) and when he did reply he said we would appeal the decision a second time and that there was no time limit for doing so. He also stated in his e-mail that he had been "deliberately tardy" in replying back to the NHS.

When I took this to a second appeal, the NHS trust said I had run out of time to respond, which means that not only did the union wrongly advise me there was no time limit but they also were to blame for me missing the deadline.

What can I do?

mogwai Thu 19-Jul-07 00:50:08

I forgot to mention that they never respinded to the second part of my grievance, ie, they didn't even attempt to address the fact that my manager had mishandled the situation.

1dilemma Thu 19-Jul-07 00:58:45

Hi Hows Sydney?
Havn't a clue what you can do sorry but wanted to say Hi.

Tortington Thu 19-Jul-07 01:00:10

does the union have a grievance procedure you can follow?

flowerybeanbag Thu 19-Jul-07 08:27:56

no extra advice to offer other than agree with custardo, I would think the union probably have some kind of complaints procedure you can follow, so I would try that first. You do have concrete examples of how bad advice and actions by your union rep disadvantaged you which will help, it's not just subjective.

What a nightmare, after relying on the union to help you through a difficult time.

mogwai Thu 19-Jul-07 11:18:35

Sydney is bloody freezing!

I'll look into whether they have a complaints procedure - you pay your subs to the union so they can;t be beyond redress can they.

Unfortunately I really like the union rep but he's an old guy who I suspect ought to have retired by now. I don't want to get him into trouble with his employer but equally if he's not up to the job, he ought not to be doing it.

1dilemma Sat 21-Jul-07 01:25:55

Lol have you heard about our rain?
Your other option is an employment lawyer but you also need to think/work out what you would like the outcome to be.!! (I know you know that just pointing it out)

mogwai Sun 22-Jul-07 07:21:36

Well what are the possible outcomes?

The union don't have a leg to stand on becuase I've got emails from my regional representative stating that he is deliberately delaying the process, and that was the problem in the end.

I don't think it would/could have made any difference to the outcome of the grievance.

flowerybeanbag Sun 22-Jul-07 10:26:54

mogwai you say you don't think this problem with your rep affected the outcome of the grievance at all, but didn't you say in your first post that you went to a second appeal but were too late to do so, having been advised there was no limit and missing the deadline because of your rep?

So there is a possibility the second appeal could have been successful in which case there is a potential tangible loss for you?
Unfortunately (or fortunately?!) I have no idea what the complaints system/liability insurance/compensation situation is with unions, or what the outcome of a complaint could be, as I have never come across a situation like this where the union rep is less than competent - maybe someone else has.

However it does sound like there is at least a possibility that the actions/inactions of your rep could have affected the outcome of your grievance.

1dilemma Sun 22-Jul-07 21:20:51

What I meant is do you want your job back? do you want money (compensation) from the union? You obv. don't have to give me details just an idea...
I suspect that if you just want to union to admit it was wrong and not do it again that is the easiest one to do but hardest to prove that they have changed IYSWIM. Also are you prepared to go to court? I just wondered how far you wanted to take this or whether you just wanted to know you were right?

mogwai Tue 24-Jul-07 02:17:01

To answer both questions (and thanks for replying!):

Although I wanted the grievance to go to stage II, I didn't feel optimistic it would have been successful. The NHS career break policy is entirely discretionary, so although it looks like a whizz-bang family friendly policy on paper, when you look into it, they can come up with any old excuse for refusing you, end of story.

However, I wanted to pursue it to it's full conclusion because I wanted to know I'd done everything in my power to try and I was hoping someone would see sense (I was coming to Sydney to get some training that would hugely benefit our department back home).

With regard to outcome of complaining about the union, I suppose I would go to court if I knew I wasn't going to incur financial costs (if I was certain I would win) and the way I feel right now I would want financial compensation. I have paid subscriptions to my union for nine years and think they ought to be held accountable. When I return to the UK, I'm classed as a new started in the NHS all over again because my continuous service has been broken. If I want a second baby, I won't get maternity pay.

1dilemma Wed 25-Jul-07 00:12:08

Ummm OK just to put the opposing view are you sure your documentation is good enough and you want the stress of going to court rather than just waiting for 6 months after you're back before you get pregnant?
There are loads of lawyers who can advise who to contact have seen lots of posts on the ?employment problem section (can't remember exact title sorry) FWIW I think they tend to specialise in city cases (loss of bonus etc)there are others specialising in public sector cases might be able to get you a few solicitors names if you are really interested. Don't know if there would be a charge for responding to an e-mail, I think you can get the first ?1/2 hour free in the UK but don't know how they would apply it to you down under.As an aside I don't know what you would get if union missing deadline meant you didn't bring case you would have lost anyway! you might get apology from union relatively easily...

flowerybeanbag Wed 25-Jul-07 08:16:48

I would follow the union complaints procedure and see how you get on with that first before thinking about any kind of legal action tbh

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