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very odd reason for disciplinary hearing - help please!

(39 Posts)
mumnosleep Fri 05-Jun-09 12:30:57

I have been on suspension on full pay for 5 months as a work colleague claimed I assaulted her, which is entirely untrue, but she is crazy and has taken this to the police. The police have requested that my company don't investigate, so they have decided not to. However, I've been called in for a formal disciplinary hearing. This hearing isn't to discuss the actual allegation, but to discuss basically the costs of my suspension and the financial impact on the company (it will be probaby around 10 months before the police proceedings will be concluded, they have indicated they think it is unreasonable to keep my on full paid suspension until then). They are definitely not going to discuss the actual allegation at the hearing.

Could any HR/employment legal professionals please advise as i'm really worried about losing my job and I don't have anyone I can ask to advise me - i'm not in a trade union. Will they be able to just sack me because this is too expensive for them, sure not?!! Or is it likely they will try to buy me out of the company? If they do then does anyone know what a reasonable financial package would be if they want to negotiate? And can I refuse their offer (if they make one) and demand to continue on full paid suspension until the police matters are concluded?? Is this a valid reason for a disciplinary hearing anyway??

Thank you!!

Unicornvomit Fri 05-Jun-09 12:43:18

i think you can still phone ACAS even if not in a union

mumnosleep Fri 05-Jun-09 13:24:47

Thanks Unicornvomit I just called ACAS and they were unable to help except to run me through the correct procedures the company should follow. Can anyone help with my queries as above at all?? Thanks if so!!

Unicornvomit Fri 05-Jun-09 13:29:25

go to teh CAB, theyu should bne able to advise you what to do

mumnosleep Fri 05-Jun-09 16:51:42

Thanks but they didn't have the necessary info. Does flowerybeanbag or ribenaberry still post on this board as I was hoping either (or any other HR professional!) might be able to help as they have helped me a lot in the past (i'm a name changer).

pavlovthecat Fri 05-Jun-09 16:54:20

Do you have house/car insurance? It is worth looking at your policy if you do, as there is often legal assistance included, often as an additional extra. If you have this, they should be able to offer you some legal advice.

I am sorry I can't help more. Hope it all works out for you.

Unicornvomit Fri 05-Jun-09 16:56:02

flowery is having a wee break. not sure about ripeberry

agree with pavlov re checking your insurance. lots do provide legal cover

you need some sort of professional legal advice. can you see an employment lawyer..?

bumpybecky Fri 05-Jun-09 17:00:02

how long have you worked there?

I'm not an expert at all, but I don't think they can sack you based on an as yet unfounded allegation. If they did it would be unfair dismissal I think.

Do you have a copy of your employer's greivance (sp) procedures?

LeninGrad Fri 05-Jun-09 17:02:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Singstar Fri 05-Jun-09 17:27:55

I have some experience in personnel but from the recruitment side of things but I'll try and help: You should be at the very least allowed to have a representative /colleague to accompany you into the meeting. If there is someone at work who is in a union ask them to accompany you. As far as I know the company don't have to inform you of anything in writing as long as its 'just having a chat' with you. As soon as something becomes official then they have to start documenting everything. In the meantime I would document everything from your perspective though just in case !

When you go into the meeting I would go in with an attitude of wanting to resolve it as much as they do - they might be expecting you to be on the defensive and if you are friendly and open it will put them off guard and also help your case, especially if the other woman is crazy (helps prove you are the sane one wink)

Finally, some law firms offer free legal advice sessions as do some law colleges so it might be worth doing an internet search to see if there is any available locally. Hope that helps and good luck smile

Singstar Fri 05-Jun-09 17:34:20

Also ....sorry on a roll here !! Don't quite understand why you're being called in on a formal disciplinary hearing to discuss the financial impact when that is beyond your control and a matter between the police investigation and your company. As far as I understand it you can and only should answer matters relating to the actual allegation which they have said they won't do. I would maybe even consider playing dumb and asking what they expect you to do about something which is beyond your control ?

Right finished now, sorry rant over wink

llareggub Fri 05-Jun-09 17:40:09

Sorry, am breastfeeding o typing with one hand.

Am HR bod.

Is usual for employers not to inv until police inv over. Suspension unusually long though.

Check your house insursnve/bank account for legal cover and get advice from a lawyer experienced in employment.

Your employers can dismiss if they have a reasonable belief that you assaulted the other person. They aren't like the police who have to prove it happened. Am not sure why they have suspended you though unless a conviction for assault would have a detrimental affect on your ability to do job. Are you providing care or similar?

Is the person making the allegation a colleague? Why is the police inv taking so long? Why haven't you taken out some kind of action against her if it is untrue?

Anyway, ACAS have advised on the process so I won't go into that. What service have you got? What is your discipinary record?

llareggub Fri 05-Jun-09 18:19:51

Oh, OK. Have just re-read without juggling baby in one hand and can see that she is a colleague. Why do you think she had made this claim against you? What have the police said about the chances of a conviction? Is there any evidence against you? Was she assaulted but by someone else?

Where did she say this assault took place?

mumnosleep Fri 05-Jun-09 20:03:10

Hi all, sorry am breastfeeding myself now so will be brief! She is a colleague. bumpybecky - i've worked there around 2 years now, I have a copy of the disciplinary procedure etc. llareggub - I don't want to go into the nitty gritty of the case as the disciplinary hearing is not to discuss the allegation of assault - they haven't investigated at all as the police requested they didn't. It is purely to discuss the costs of my suspension as they now feel these costs are unreasonable (and yes it is a formal disciplinary hearing I have been invited to). Also I don't want to give too much personal info away. But take it from me, the assualt did not happen. What i'm looking for is is info on the following: Is this a valid reason for a disciplinary hearing (that suspension is too expensive for them)? Will they be able to just sack me because this is too expensive for them, sure not?!! Or is it likely they will try to buy me out of the company? If they do then does anyone know what a reasonable financial package would be if they want to negotiate? And can I refuse their offer (if they make one) and demand to continue on full paid suspension until the police matters are concluded?? I checked my insurance etc and no legal advice unfortunately. Leningrad - I think I answered your queries above? I also don't understand why they have chosen to go the disciplinary route with this, it is out of my control that the police investigations are taking so long. Singstar - I also expected any disciplinary to be regarding the actual allegation, it does strike me as odd, so wondered what the HR bods made fo it all.

llareggub Fri 05-Jun-09 20:14:55

To be very honest with you an employer can dismiss for any reason it chooses. Whether or not it will be fair or not depends on whether they follow a fair procedure, and whether the reason for the dismissal is for one of the 5 fair reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act.

In your case I am surprised that they chose to suspend unless an outstanding allegation of possible assault might put service users at risk.

I am wondering if they will look at dismissing you for something other than gross misconduct. It is hard to give advice without knowing the details but my employers have dismissed people for an SOSR, which is "some other significant reason" but hard to say given you can't give specifics.

I'm not sure what you mean by "buying you out." Can you elaborate?

Happyshopper Fri 05-Jun-09 20:28:31

Hi

I am a HR bod but this looks like a complicated situation and more difficult to advise on because I've not seen the letter etc.
However I can't see why they would dismiss based on the cost if it is not your fault that you are suspended (as you are considered to be innocent at this stage). The only thing I can think of is that they may try and dismiss you for 'some other substantial reason'their justification being that the Company cannot continue to support the suspension for financial reasons but it would have to be a very small company to argue this.
Financial package is a difficult one to it depends on what you earn, how difficult it would be to get another job etc.
Does it say in your letter that you maybe dismissed?
What has happened to the person who has made the allegation?

mumnosleep Fri 05-Jun-09 20:37:31

llareggub - yes they would think service users are at risk hence suspension. By buying me out I mean paying me to leave the company instead of sacking me and facing an employment tribunal, does this make sense and even is it likely? Happyshopper - They have said in the invitation to disciplinary hearing letter that the reason for disciplinary is SOSR - unreasonable cost of ongoing suspension etc (see my original post for details). In the letter it does say there is a chance I may be dismissed. Turnover is around 100mil so not small company (but in some tough times).

Happyshopper Fri 05-Jun-09 20:53:25

Unfortunately, they could dismiss on those grounds but it is not necessarily fair to do so. They would have to justify that they cannot afford to keep you suspended.
You really need someone to accompany you to the hearing. Is there anyone who has their head screwed on that can go with you?

I would suggest that you ask the company how long it will take for the police to continue their investigation and that they hold out until then.

How long have you worked for the Organisation? Have you had any previous issues?
How long has the person who made the allegation worked there?

llareggub Fri 05-Jun-09 20:53:36

SOSR...as I thought. What you mean by "being bought out" is being offered a compromise agreement after dismissal. This is where you are given money in return for not going to a tribunal.

If they dismiss you they may offer a compromise agreement but it all depends on how watertight they feel the dismissal. They won't look to compromise if they would win at tribunal.

You really need qualified legal advice. It is impossible to advise you further on the information you have provided.

ilovemydogandmrobama Fri 05-Jun-09 21:21:40

A compromise agreement doesn't stop you from going to tribunal, as your statutory rights cannot be contracted out of, but a tribunal would take into account the financial settlement and would be deducted from any award.

I don't understand why the police are taking 10 months to investigate an assault?

smittenkitten Fri 05-Jun-09 21:45:03

a compromise agreement DOES stop you going to tribunal, that's why it's not binding unless you've had legal advice.

Anyway, this is an unusual and complex situation. I think it would be highly unreasonable for your company to dismiss you for them having suspended you! If the ongoing suspension is causing them problems then they are going to have to carry out their own investigation, and ignore hte police investigation. Employers and police work to different standards of proof - employers are working within the civil courts so work to balance of probability, whereas police and criminal courts work to beyond reasonable doubts. We often take our own action independent of police because of this. I also think it's unreasonable of them to have suspended you for this length of time - after 5 months your skills may be getting rusty, out of decisions and communications in your team etc.

Suggest you go to meeting, be accompanied if you can, and if they attempt to discipline you for their action I would call an adjournment so you can take advice. I repeat, I think it would be extremely dubious to dismiss you for the financial burden of their decision to suspend you based on allegations which you completely deny. Can they not arrange it so you return to work, but you and this other woman don't work together until the police investigation is cleared up?

(apologies, I'm not at my most coherent tonight)

ilovemydogandmrobama Fri 05-Jun-09 22:10:57

I disagree. A Compromise Agreement cannot stop anyone from going to tribunal, but would obviously affect the award.

mumnosleep Tue 09-Jun-09 16:55:46

bump - ribenaberry could you advise op?

lou031205 Tue 09-Jun-09 17:08:06

A compromise agreement can stop you going to tribunal, IF there is a clause preventing it as part of the agreement. Once you sign it, if you then go to tribunal, you are in breach of contract.

Dulciedot Wed 10-Jun-09 11:52:00

Do you have legal expense insurance? If you have it, it may be attached to a policy on your home contents insurace. Have a look, if you have it contact your insurer to appraise them of the situation. Btw, you have the right to chose a solicitor yourself and it is unlawful for your insurer to insist you use their solicitors. Suggest you consult Chambers or other legal directory to find lawyer who can help you.

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