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Employment law advice urgently needed(5 Posts)
Am not sure where to go with this.
Background: Husband early 50's has been employed by the same national institution since he was 14. First as a tea boy, then from 16 full time. Has worked his way up to a management position and is very much a man of his workplace. He takes great pride in his work & in creating the best team possible in his area of influence. He's always on time, extremely conscientious & hardworking, tries hard to be a fair and flexible employer to give everyone in his team the benefits of flexibility where he can, sometimes to his own detriment. The line of work he's in tends to appeal to young people as it combines physical work with technological know-how.
Yesterday he had the usual weekly meeting with his line manager who told him that some of his work colleagues had expressed doubts about his ability to do the job. That some of his technical skills weren't up to scratch.
The team he manages do a highly technical work, every year the work is becoming more and more computer based. DH freely admits that others in his department know more about how to operate some of the more advanced computer-based stuff than he does, but has always had in mind the best 'team' for the job they do. i.e. he manages, schedules, budgets, orders, plans and does some of the technical stuff, others do the more skilled stuff that they are best at. Employer gets the strongest team. He does make efforts to keep abreast of the technology - he understands it, but it's not his specialism so to speak.
Line manager told him that they were looking to either sack him or make him redundant. This is the first time that anyone has even mentioned this, or any issue at all with his work to him so it has come completely out of the blue. he's not been offered any training in his weak area's or any options at all other than redundancy, sack or a much lower paid position. In 38 years (40 if you count tea boy job), no-one has ever expressed any concerns over his work & really It seems to me that he does do the job he was employed to do - & very conscientiously too. LM said there might be a very slim possibility they could find him a much lower paid job in another department.
DH is gutted. I see him fighting to hold himself together & my heart is breaking. Can they do this? legally I mean. He isn't a union member & even if he re-joined now the man who would represent him is as much use as a chocolate tea-pot, so it's not really a viable option. I've told him to write down everything said to him from now on, but where can he go & what can he do for good advice?
Does he have to, as he's currently doing, consider the massive demotion because, really at 50-something he's not likely to get re-employment in his field?
I suspect that this is the double whammy of a cost-cutting exercise, & a way of getting rid of a reasonably well paid older member of staff in a young man/woman's game. It feels like bullying to me.
Sounds like a potentially unfair dismissal and possible age discrimination. I suggest he makes a very full note of his meeting today, and any subsequent meetings. He should include a note of date, time, place, who was present and approx duration of the meeting. Based on what happens next he should involve HR, possibly by raising a grievance. You said it's a national institution so I'm guessing they have an HR function.
I am by no means an expert but to me this also sounds like potential age discrimination and possibly constructive dismissal as they are trying to force him to take unreasonable changes in the hope that he resigns. I wouldn't see any harm in making a one off appointment with an employment lawyer so that he would know where he stands and then be able to let the HR dept know he isn't going to be bluffed.
Thanks you three. I hadn't thought about ACAS, will give them a call. Might aslo ask around for Employment lawyer recommendations.
Thinking about it, they've really pulled a blinder. We're going away on holiday for three weeks on Friday so he's next-to-no time to do anything constructive really. can't help but think they've planned it like that. B@$%*%ds.
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