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grievance dragging on - do I return to work?

(120 Posts)
janebond007 Sun 30-Jun-19 12:57:23

I have been off work LTS with anxiety brought on by a performance appraisal in which my manager said, and wrote, some discriminatory things about my disabilities in addition to untrue and inaccurate things about my performance. Things that were someone else's fault (which I can prove).

The appraisal meeting was mid March and was absolutely horrible, resulting in lots of tears and a panic attack from me.

I tried to resolve it informally and got my union rep involved. Unfortunately, long story short, the informal approach did not work and led to more discriminatory things being said.

So mid April, I submitted a formal grievance against my manager and also complained about company policies which indirectly discriminate.

This led to lots of pressure to withdraw the grievance and deal with it informally which I resisted. They asked me to go to OH which I did and OH said I can't return to work until it's resolved. OH were annoyed as it was the fifth (yes fifth) time they've seen me in just over 2 years yet my company don't really take any action on their recommendations.

Fast forward to mid May, still no grievance hearing date, but I log into the company network to find that the original appraisal records are still showing me as under performing as well as discriminatory things about my disabilities. Not only that, my line manager has added more false statements during my sickness absence. And written hurtful and personal things like I am "not a popular member of staff"

So I complain about this via my union rep and get a meeting with the head of HR who asks what I want.

I said:

* new line manager but same job as I like the job
* reasonable adjustments, including awareness training on my disabilities
* the appraisal records to be deleted of the untrue and discriminatory content
* my manager to be disciplined for what she has said and written about me. (I am not the only person she has bullied either).

Within my original grievance, I submitted a letter as well as a USB with scanned copies of all emails and other documentation to back up my grievance.

It is now almost July, over 3 months since I went on sickness absence and over 2 months since I submitted my grievance.

The head of HR said she would speak to the head of my department about getting a new line manager and getting the reasonable adjustments in place, and they hope to see me back at work ASAP

But AIBU to still be unhappy? This is just a promise, it's not a guarantee. I've had lots of promises before and nothing has happened, or things will improve for a short time and start to slip.

The appraisal records have still not been deleted. I have heard nothing about my manager being disciplined in any way. According to the head of HR, that is not my decision or something they would communicate to me.

I don't know if I am going to get a grievance hearing or if I should push this or just let it go if I get a new line manager? I feel they haven't even read my grievance and fear it will be swept under the carpet. I fear they don't actually know everything she has done to me and that they think simply giving me a new line manager is enough.

My union rep is good but I think she'd prefer to avoid the grievance hearing too. My family are keen for me to get back to work and don't see a need for a grievance hearing anymore.

There are still so many unanswered questions, like how many people can see that appraisal record as its not private! It should be, which forms part of my grievance. We are a huge organisation, public sector, over 3000 staff who can potentially access my record!

I am not a confrontational person, I am not good with words or standing up for myself as I just cry and cry. So I'm not really sure what to do. Do I go back, or do I keep pushing?

And if I go back, I will have to see this manager as I'll still be in the same team. Also her manager who did not handle the informal process very well. I don't know what to say to them and I'm almost certain it won't go well as they will be defensive, angry and accusatory. Mediation definitely won't work although I expect it will be offered.

I am actively looking for other work. I don't want an internal move. I want to leave ASAP but I need to work until I find something. Unfortunately all roles that are coming up are other parts of the UK, a large pay cut, or only temporary.

Sorry for the long post. Would appreciate any advice.

MT2017 Sun 30-Jun-19 15:32:18

So is it OH that have signed you off and said don't go back til adjustments have been put in place? Do you have an end date to that period?

flowery Sun 30-Jun-19 15:42:20

If you’ve put in a grievance you are entitled to a hearing, it’s that simple.

What reason have they given for not setting a hearing date?

ilovesocks Sun 30-Jun-19 15:48:45

If you have evidence of discrimination I'd get your legal insurance or ACAS involved. Has to be within 3 months of the date of discrimination. Clearly internal processes aren't up to scratch, they've had their chance so I'd get in touch with an external party.

janebond007 Sun 30-Jun-19 18:48:52

@MT2017 GP has signed me off, I'm seeing him again tomorrow and hopefully will get an extension as I don't feel any less anxious with this dragging on.

@flowery they haven't really said why I haven't had a grievance hearing yet but I suspect it has something to do with them thinking they can give me what I want (new line manager) and that will be enough but I'm not sure it is. I want everything dealt with and to be taken seriously, but I don't want it dragging on any longer than it has been either.

janebond007 Sun 30-Jun-19 18:53:24

@ilovesocks my union rep said she is going to get me to complete some kind of union claim form in the event things do not get resolved and she has advised me to wait and see if they deliver on their offer of a new line manager etc.

I did speak with ACAS, it was them who told me to speak to my union and raise a formal grievance. They said to exhaust the grievance process before going down the tribunal route.

flowery Sun 30-Jun-19 18:56:22

Have a look at your grievance procedure to see if there is any guidance there about timescales.

You put in the grievance more than two months ago. It is unacceptable not to have a date for your hearing or, at the very least, an explanation as to why the investigation is taking this long, with details of when you can expect to be given a date for your hearing.

I would write firmly to the top HR person, saying you raised a grievance over two months ago, you are entitled to a hearing and are very concerned that two months down the line, you still have no indication when it will be, could he/she advise you what the delay is and when your hearing will take place.

janebond007 Sun 30-Jun-19 19:54:13

Thanks @flowery, I will do that and email my union rep too.

My biggest concern is that they will give me a new line manager and think that's enough, when it isn't really.

QueenEnid Mon 01-Jul-19 01:16:11

@janebond007 whilst you need to exhaust the grievance procedure before starting with acas, this is not the case where you're likely to be out of time for a tribunal claim. The time limits for this are very strict.

It doesn't matter if you haven't had a grievance hearing. Get your claim in to acas as you're on a time limit of 3 months - 1 day from the date of the act you're complaining about.

HR love to waste time. Even more so because people often do end up out of time whilst they're waiting for grievances to be heard.

daisychain01 Mon 01-Jul-19 03:56:28

Just to clarify, OP, do you believe that your 'under performance' rating is linked to your disability in a way that a court would find discriminatory?

If you do not have that aspect well-documented and validated via your Union, then taking it to a Tribunal would not be a viable option. I didn't take it from your posts that you have an intention to take the matter to Tribunal, but just wanting to flag it as a concern, in case you do.

Be aware that your employer could well put this whole situation down to a "personality clash" hence their willingness to find you a new line manager, to wipe the slate clean.

IME when a manager has down-rated a performance, the likelihood of them changing their stance is about 0.001%. They will not want to lose credibility by changing their views, especially if the organisation supports them. Even if you think it's unfair, trying to change it may become stressful, protracted and not in your long term best interest.

The only situation where I would change my opinion is if they see risk of you bringing a discrimination claim against them, If you feel the discriminatory element of your grievance is sufficiently strong, then it would be worth pressing for your grievance hearing, but if not, then why not try to out the matter behind you, meet them half way and try to get your role back on track with the new manager? Is this an option you feel you can explore?

crustycrab Mon 01-Jul-19 08:22:21

Exhausting the grievance process means following it properly. Your union rep doesn't sound great. Insist on a grievance hearing and see the process through. Complain about them not meeting timescales etc. as well

janebond007 Mon 01-Jul-19 08:32:31

@daisychain01 yes the under performance is all linked to my disabilities and I can evidence this.

I will contact my union rep today and ask for her help to push for a grievance hearing.

QueenEnid Mon 01-Jul-19 10:50:57

@janebond007 do you have a grievance procedure and policy at work? What does it say about meeting timescales in there?

janebond007 Mon 01-Jul-19 10:53:36

Hi, there are no timescales in the grievance policy.

There are 4 stages though.

Informal, formal, appeal, appeal hearing

after which there is no further appeal

It does say you should appeal no later than 5 days after outcome.

No other timescales mentioned.

flowery Mon 01-Jul-19 11:01:13

An employer is expected to follow a 'reasonable' procedure, and over two months without a hearing, a date for a hearing, or an explanation as to what the delay is, isn't reasonable. Sometimes investigations take a while, but if that's the case, they should be keeping you updated with anticipated timescales. Seems to me they are just not bothering. Be very firm, ask for confirmation as to when your hearing will be, otherwise you will be forced to consider that you have exhausted the internal procedure with regards to your complaint.

janebond007 Mon 01-Jul-19 11:47:58

When I spoke with HR, she said it wasn't for her to investigate my grievance, she just wanted to know what would get me back to work. I tried repeatedly to bring up matters in my grievance, but she kept repeating that wasn't why she was meeting me and it was an absence management thing instead.

I've emailed my union rep and hopefully she will get back to me. I'm actually going abroad tomorrow for 2 weeks (arranged before all this sh*t happened) so might not hear anything whilst I'm away and I really need a holiday but would rather not be away and worrying whilst I'm away.

I've barely slept in all this time and keep crying. It's really sh*t.

crustycrab Mon 01-Jul-19 11:52:41

Pushing for a hearing date the day before you go abroad for 2 weeks could backfire spectacularly shock

flowery Mon 01-Jul-19 11:53:33

"When I spoke with HR, she said it wasn't for her to investigate my grievance, she just wanted to know what would get me back to work. I tried repeatedly to bring up matters in my grievance, but she kept repeating that wasn't why she was meeting me and it was an absence management thing instead."

It's fair enough that this person isn't investigating your grievance, and is meeting with you about absence management. That's all fine, except the only real reason an employer can unilaterally delay a grievance hearing significantly is because the investigation is taking a while for whatever reason.

This is why you need to put it in writing to the top HR person. You have raised a grievance. You are entitled to a hearing. You have not had one and as yet do not have a date when your hearing will take place. Could he/she please advise of the date of your hearing as a matter of urgency.

It's not about trying to bring up matters contained in your grievance when you're talking to them, it's about getting your grievance actually heard formally, and not letting them fob you off.

If you need to wait and see whether your union rep will 'hopefully' get back to you, I would write directly to HR director (or whoever it is) yourself, rather than wait any longer.

flowery Mon 01-Jul-19 11:54:00

"Pushing for a hearing date the day before you go abroad for 2 weeks could backfire spectacularly"

How?

janebond007 Mon 01-Jul-19 12:48:17

Being unfit for work doesn't mean I am unfit for a holiday booked well in advance of all this sh*t starting.

It may even help me to relax, I hope.

swingofthings Mon 01-Jul-19 17:14:14

And written hurtful and personal things like I am "not a popular member of staff"
This is neither hurtful nor personal. If other staff have stated they find it difficult dealing and working with you, then it would be a fair professional assessment. Because it isnt pleasant to her doesn't make it wrong. It is of course if it is available for others to see.

You are entitled to pursue wanting a hearing for your grievance. You are entitled to tell them what you want to see happen when they ask you what you would like to return to work. You however cannot demand actions that impacts on others. Them asking you what they can do to help you return to work is in no way acceptance that your manager did anything wrong.

If you want to take things further you absolutely need to to put any emotional issues aside and concentrate on facts. You say you have evidence of discrimination, has it been confirmed to you that it does indeed constitute unlawful behaviour?

daisychain01 Mon 01-Jul-19 19:34:32

@daisychain01 yes the under performance is all linked to my disabilities and I can evidence this

Have you included the specifics in your grievance so that it is clear to your employer exactly what you're taking issue with, as being discriminatory. If so, I'm surprised they are unwilling to investigate. It is not in their best interests to bury their head in the sand over this.

The only reason they are likely to be dragging their heals is because they've already sought legal advice from their legal team and there is no discrimination but they do recognise that issues with your current manager are best resolved by allocating you a new LM.

Could you discuss this scenario with your Union Rep to see what they think?

janebond007 Mon 01-Jul-19 20:26:42

If other staff have stated they find it difficult dealing and working with you, then it would be a fair professional assessment.

No names were given and no evidence given either to back up these assertions, although yes, these comments are available for all to view and they should have been made private. I don't believe it is true that people don't want to work with me as there is no one I have fallen out with or had any issues with other than my line manager and I know for a fact she has had complaints about her before made by others. In my grievance I have asked for names and for evidence to back up the statement that I am not a popular member of staff.

You say you have evidence of discrimination, has it been confirmed to you that it does indeed constitute unlawful behaviour?

I have spoken to ACAS, EHRC, CAB and my union rep who all agree that I am being discriminated against based on the evidence I have. I don't know if the company has spoken to lawyers though.

Have you included the specifics in your grievance so that it is clear to your employer exactly what you're taking issue with, as being discriminatory.

I included everything that has been said and done, and explained that I had supporting evidence (eg emails)

I suspect they don't think it is discrimination when it is, I think that is the issue. The performance issues are actually a consequence of my disabilities and thus is unfair to put me down as 'under performing'.

janebond007 Tue 02-Jul-19 09:17:56

union rep got back to me this morning and said that pushing for a grievance hearing is my right, but to wait and see if HR keep their promises.

Seems like the union rep is saying, you are getting what you wanted, what's the problem and let it go now.

union rep said she'll ask HR for an update and get back to me later today.

daisychain01 Tue 02-Jul-19 19:15:33

Seems like the union rep is saying, you are getting what you wanted, what's the problem and let it go now.

What do you actually want as an outcome though, in addition to what they've offered?

I recognise you believe they have discriminated against you, and that it has led to a downgrading of your performance but if you are on LTS, what they might see as your unwillingness to meet them halfway could end up dragging things on for so long that they dig their heals in, make the process more convoluted and it makes it so difficult that you can't return to work anyway.

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