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Do I have to attend tribunal if i've left?

34 replies

Tinkerisdead · 30/03/2008 12:32

I recently left a massive blue chip company for a thousand reasons which revolved around pay, working hours, customer service including unfair charging and issues which I left called my morals into question.

I was in a senior management position and to cut a long story short I had to sack people for their continued sick absence. The decision to fire someone fundamentally made by my boss and HR but I had to complete the procedure and write the justification for ot. I should note that my payrises etc were witheld whilst I had more than 5% of my staff off sick. If I failed to dismiss people who had breached 180 days sick then I faced discipline procedures as it was deemed that i could not manage performance effectively.

I soon realised that decisions like this I found very uncomfortable and so resigned from my post. I am now 8 weeks pregnant and the company have contacted me to say that 2 people I dismissed are going to tribunal for unfair dismissal. I have asked what happens if I dont want to attend for a company I left for moral reasons and they have said they will sends me a summons etc.

I'm not denying I dismissed these people (bith had been off sick for over 400 days in 4 years)however the company has all my notes around the decision. I had a to prepare a decision rationale for each case.

The whole thing makes me feel sick, I dont want to represent a company that i walked out of, I have enough on my plate with morning sickness etc and they have advised me that I have to notify them of all my antenatal dates, scans etc and periods in hospital so they can ensure I am available for tribunal. The whole thing is making me feel sick. Where do I stand if I refuse to act for a comapny I am loathe to defend?

OP posts:
hecate · 30/03/2008 12:34

why not tell them that you will be 100% honest and tell the tribunal exactly why you left. Don't defend the company. Tell them that you will happily go to tribunal and tell the tribunal exactly how badly the company treated it's staff.

edam · 30/03/2008 12:40

I suspect they are just bullying you - it's hardly going to look good at a tribunal if they have to summons a witness to support their case! No wonder people are taking them to a tribunal if this is their attitude - not just bullying employees but former employees too. Astonishing. And if you did appear, you would just have to be honest - you could explain why you left and answer questions by saying you don't remember but the company has your paperwork.

Talk to an employment lawyer to find out where you stand - most firms will give you an initial consultation for free. Or go to CAB, or look up employment law on the Dept for Business website.

Tinkerisdead · 30/03/2008 12:47

Hmmm thats a good point about summons Edam thankyou. my DH has contacted his business solicitors to get me some advice on employment law etc but no-one has called back yet and its worrying me.

They have said they will come to my house to get a witness statement off me as they need it within two weeks. I said I couldnt travel etc as lots of dizziness/sickness and they said fine we'll come to your home. I feel so pressured by them but they are a massive company and I dont know my rights.

OP posts:
lalalonglegs · 30/03/2008 12:54

I would make it clear that I was in no way going to be their poodle and, if they insist on coming to you for a witness statement (I would check that they are allowed to do that first) make it the most unhelpful one possible so they realise that you will be a hostile witness. Have you thought about taking them to tribunal for constructive dismissal yourself?

edam · 30/03/2008 12:55

Blimey, TDW, they are bloody pushy, aren't they? I suspect they are chancing it, hoping you will just roll over.

I'd contact dh's solicitors on Monday and explain that you need to know URGENTLY where you stand on them coming to your house as they have given you a two-week deadline. But if you don't hear anything, I would just tell the company it isn't convenient. You don't work for them any more, they have no right to order you around. If they want you, they can summons you - they won't because it's shooting themselves in the foot. Or, if they are stupid enough to do it, you can say your piece, which will not be in their favour.

edam · 30/03/2008 12:57

Btw, aggressive solicitors often make demands that go way beyond any legal rights their clients have - just because a firm of solicitors says 'jump' doesn't mean you have to.

Tinkerisdead · 30/03/2008 13:07

thank you so much for responding, really put my mind at rest. I wont persue them for constructive dismissal as I just want to rid of them forever. I walked away knowing that i would be TTC and forfeiting any maternity benefits and a decent salary but I just couldnt take it anymore.

I feel genuinely intimidated by them as a company and because there are two cases I have two different company solicitors chasing me. On the latter case I made sure that the line manager had every single email, document, meeting minutes etc as I didnt want any repercussions once I left. Now they are still hounding me.

OP posts:
WideWebWitch · 30/03/2008 13:37

You've left, you have no obligation to give them anything. So I'd decline the meeting, tell them if they want you to appear at tribunal they can summons you but that you will have to be honest if you appear. It's perjury to lie to a tribunal.

And it IS ok to dismiss people for being off sick under certain circumstances. IIRC it is the individual who goes to tribunal, not 'the company' but not sure what happens when that person has left.

They might decide to settle with the people concerned, it's a lot cheaper than going to tribunal.

edam · 30/03/2008 14:04

WWW is right, it's the aggrieved employee who goes to the tribunal, but I assume the company wants thedoctor's input to help them defend themselves.

Tinkerisdead · 30/03/2008 14:57

yes thats right, it states the employee V's BT!!!!!

OP posts:
Bellie · 30/03/2008 15:03

Thedoctorswife - as others have said you can be summoned by the company to appear. However it won't look particularly good if you are not a 'willing' witness. Unless you had something in your contract or leaving documentation that you signed to say that you would help in tribunal cases, they cannot insist that you return to any meeting other than if they issue a summons for the tribunal meeting.

If you do get summoned, tell the truth - you will be asked to swear either on the bible, or make a declaration (similar to a normal court of law) and no more.


Tinkerisdead · 30/03/2008 20:09

everyone has really helped to calm me down about it, thank you.

OP posts:
llareggub · 30/03/2008 20:11

Of course, if you do go, charge them a MASSIVE consultancy fee. But I agree with the others. Make it clear you won't be a friendly witness and I am sure they'll leave you alone. They sound awful.

edam · 30/03/2008 20:18

Good point there - have they actually said anything about paying for your time?

Bubble99 · 30/03/2008 20:22

The ex-employees are going to a tribunal against your ex-company, not you - surely?

I can see that the ex-company might request that you attend, but I can't see how they could demand it. Surely it's the job of whoever took over your role when you left? They have your notes/records to refer to.

They (the ex-company) sound like total arses, IMO.

Congratulations on your pregnancy.

BetsyBoop · 30/03/2008 22:33

this might help

it says

"You may ask the tribunal to issue a witness order which will summon someone that you want to have at the hearing, even if they do not want to be there. You must apply in writing well before the hearing.

If you do so you will need to tell the tribunal:

  • the name and address of the witness;
  • what the witness will say and how it will help your case; and
  • why the witness is not willing to come to the hearing voluntarily."
Tinkerisdead · 31/03/2008 13:29

arrrghhh they are now emailing me with different case files and documents saying do you recall seeing this in 2006? and this? and this?

Ive emailed back to say i cant remember and to check my notes made at the time! My solicitor called me back to say I cant refuse if they send summons but i can respectfully ask that they use my witness statements rather than me attending. but then said dont hold my breath that I wont have to go.

I cant believe I left the place to have a quiet homelife as a housewife which is heaven and now most of this year will be spent at the beck and call of them.

They have said they will pay my travel but i would have to attend for a full day in tribunal...twice! how can i charge them?

OP posts:
Bellie · 31/03/2008 13:51

TheDoctorswife - I think you need to be clear with them, that you do not intend to be a witness for them unless you receive a summons. I would email them back saying 'check my notes that were made at the time. As I have indicated before, I am not willing to be a witness for you until you issue a summons' - put the ball back in their court!.

As BestyBoop has found they will then have to say why the witness is not willing to come voluntarily - they may not want to do that.

They are playing hardball with you - you need to throw the hardball back!

edam · 31/03/2008 15:46

Oh bugger. They really are persistent, aren't they? I'd refuse to do anything more for them until they bloody issue a summons if I were you.

And if you do have to attend, just be honest about anything you can't remember - say clearly "I don't remember, it was a year ago, I made notes at the time which the company has".

Suggest you bill them for your time at whatever your hourly rate was when you were an employee - annual salary divided by 52, divided by 5, divided by eight hours or whatever your working day was.

shhhfloweryisnotreallyhere · 31/03/2008 16:00

Have you made it absolutely clear that you will not be a 'helpful' witness?

If they just want factual confirmation of stuff they have it already, so as long as you make it 100% clear to your boss and/or HR that your testimony in the tribunal itself is likely to be more helpful to the individuals bringing these case than to the company I can't see why they'd bother issuing a summons for you.

Would you actually be saying that these people were not treated fairly in your opinion? And if so, have you actually made that very clear to the people concerned at the company? Are they completely aware that your testimony will not help them?

BetsyBoop · 31/03/2008 20:12

I would definitely sort out how much they are going to pay you for your time before you do anything else for them - do not give any more time for free, you don't work for them any more, you owe them nothing.

As others have already said I would be tempted with the "don't remember, check my notes" line as well.

If you do a witness statement include the things you've told us about no payrises & threatened with diciplinaries, you may find that they suddenly lose interest in you as a witness!

oops · 31/03/2008 20:21

Message withdrawn

TotalChaos · 31/03/2008 20:30

I would refuse to give them a witness statement, and hint that anything you would say would not be favourable to your employers. Hopefully they will just then piss off and stop hassling you.

Tinkerisdead · 01/04/2008 19:57

Responded to email in the nature of the above hints, cant remember cant remember and dont want to know and the solicitor sent a very curt response stating that as the dimissing person I am the key witness and without me they cannot win their case and for that reason I am very much needed to attend. to submit a witness statement is insufficient and that I will be required for cross examination and that they will indeed request my attendance formally.

OP posts:
Bellie · 01/04/2008 20:55

Oh dear thedoctorswife.

It looks as though they will issue a summons though. Do you have any idea of the dates of the tribunal.

One of the suggestions earlier was to go to the doctors and get it logged medically that this is causing you anxiety and some stress. You may well need medical documentation that you are unable to attend and it is better to get it logged now rather than later.

I am almost certain (but not 100%) that they cannot force you to miss antenatal appointments/midwife/scans etc for this.

Hugs to you and hope the ms is starting to ease.

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