Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
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    Default Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Hi

    Ive always performed very well in my job and exceeded expectations and smashed targets.
    Recently however, it seems one of the directors has taken a dislike to me and literally everything i do is criticised or not good enough.

    We've had a situation recently where one of my suppliers let us down and basically did a runner with the funds that we paid them. It seems now that I'm being made a scapegoat for that, even though it was completely out of my control and there was nothing i could have done.

    Since then, I've had three weeks of consistent , what i would call bullying. Constant criticisms, impossible deadlines, and i started to feel as though i was being implicated, almost accused of having something to do with what happened. It got to the point where the tone of some of the emails about the situation were definitely borderline accusatory.

    For the last three weeks I've been in tears at my desk, gone home very upset and haven't eaten or slept very well. Its worth mentioning I'm a senior manager so am used to the stress's of my job and can accept that yes, things aren't always rosy but I've never felt so isolated or bullied in to a corner.

    My line manager and the director in question go way back and i haven't had any support internally with whats happened, literally everybody has pointed the finger at me.

    Today the HR Manager came to see me from our London head office, and i was called in to see her and my line manager. I was told that there were performance issues and not just my line manager but also the directors had concerns! My line manager (who has only just started can i add) listed 5 ridiculous reasons why i wasn't performing, all nonsense and things out of my control. I said that there have never been any issues with my performance, in fact i had my annual review two months ago and got high scores in every category, and the word 'exceptional' was used! The HR manager went on to say that actually these wernt new issues, but stemmed from 12 months ago and should have been raised with me, erm no, first ive heard thanks!

    I was basically told that this director was not happy with me and regardless of whether his reasons were justified , i had to take it on the chin as ultimately he's the client and the boss.

    Another major concern, a while back i was unwell. I didn't have any time off, only the odd half day for doctors and hospital appointments. i spoke with my line manager at the time (who has now left) and he notified HR. Last time the director i have the problem with was on site, he commented that I've had 'personal problems' and i was told that he was doubting my commitment to my role. Again, absolute rubbish, I've only ever been super committed and my results have shown that. So my confidential health issue has somehow been made its way to him and been deemed as personal problems.

    So the outcome of todays meeting was that i would have to go on a probation period of up to 6 months and basically tick all the criteria, even though some of them are out of my control.

    I honestly think they're trying to push me out for whatever reason so i just need some advice on what to do legally. The way I've been made to feel, ill actually, makes me want to go off sickicon. Ive been a nervous wreck for weeks and i honestly think I'm fighting a losing battle.

    The company policy is 1 month full pay, 1 month half pay, is there any reason they could not pay me sick pay based on their fake performance issues claims?

    Thanks


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Hi

    I hope it is needless to say that you have printed off all these accusatory emails and started collecting all the evidence of your good performance? You need to look forward 12 month to where an ET will consider what evidence you have. You need to show factually that the director took a dislike to you and that you were doing your job and their evidence is groundless.

    I am guessing you are female as the tone of the post reads that way but this is not entirely clear. It is relevant as the comment 'personal problems' seems borderline sexist should these actually mean 'lady personal problems' so please clarify. I think in any event you should ask for clarification what exactly was meant by the comment and see where that leads you. If they fall into the trap and divulge something that they should not know through confidentiality (and as a manager you should know management own ALL the information and don't care two hoots about Data Protection and confidentiality) then at least you have something to beat them with. As it stands it is too vague, as it could be argued we all have personal problems of some sort or other. This may a fruitful route if they have discriminated against you regarding your sex.

    Pushing you out.... well that is entirely possible, they may see you as superfluous to their needs now and want to save on paying you redundancyicon, your sick pay policy is not very generous so putting you under stress does seem a cheap way of getting rid of you. Engineering exits is rather easy for the bullying employer. As to not paying sick pay... look at the policy. If a doctor signs you off sick and it is genuine they would be on sticky ground not paying you, however 6 weeks pay is dead cheap for them so I doubt they would withhold it.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Hello there. I'm sorry to hear about your problems. Good advice from papasmurf.

    I don't know the legalities of withholding sick pay, but I do know someone whose bullying manager cut short their sick pay because it was 'discretionary' according to the company's policy. My understanding was that the company could us its discretion to pay for longer that the policy said, but this seemed to be an effort to starve them back into work. And HR seemed to have gone along with it.

    I would be interested to know if people like Becky or Sidewinder have views on this.

    We'll help you through this, it sounds tough for you.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Hello,

    If the company sick pay is enshrined then it would be an unlawful deduction from your wages to withhold this. Usually it is only a bonus payment which is linked to performance and which can be legally withheld. If it is "discretionary" sick pay (sometimes contracts do contain clauses which offer six months full pay but only at their discretion!) then it is possible they could pay you SSP only, however if other employees in a similar situation were being paid full pay, it could be discriminatory not to offer you the same terms (if there was an obvious element of discrimination - like paying a male comparator!).

    Does your company have a capability policy/procedure in their staff handbook? If so, it would be worth checking whether they are following this correctly (and you will be able to see what you should expect of the company and what they expect of you).

    The six month "probation" is likely to be a time frame for them to adequately manage your performance - generally capability-related dismissals take 3-6 months to fairly complete. However, they do have to set you measurable targets, provide you with training if you request it, hold a series of meetings with you and give you staged warnings. Evidence of your "poor performance" should be presented to you during the meetings and you should be given the opportunity to comment on it (you also have the right to be accompanied during these meetings by a work colleague or TU rep). Only at the end of a process like this can they fairly dismiss you. Tribunals do look at previous appraisals and if there is no evidence of poor performance but a capability procedure is instigated out of the blue, this would not put the company in a good position! Additionally Tribunals usually expect an employer to review the situation informally first before embarking on formal action. They also ought to have a undertaken a reasonable investigation into the performance issues and monitor your work before embarking on the process.

    I would say at this stage that you really need to prioritise your health and therefore if you feel you need to take time off sick, then do it with the support of your GP. You could also raise a grievanceicon about the way you have been treated, including the fact that you have been accused of "not being committed to your role" and that this spurious performance management process has been instigated against you. This can sometimes leave an employee's position untenable, though, so make sure you are prepared for that fact. It could be a make or break situation - you could go back and have your grievance upheld and have the capability procedures dropped against you, or you could get everyone's back up further and end up having to resign (or end up being dismissed). Personally I would rather my employer knew that I had a problem whilst they still had the opportunity to deal with that, but I completely understand why people don't want to further rock the boat!

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  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder nikkikitch Novitiate

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Hi all

    Thanks so much for your replies, they're all very helpful. It sounds as though what they're doing is actually illegal! I too would've though that if my line manager had problems with my performance, he should've raised them with me first, rather than going straight to HR?

    I have kept copies of every single email regarding the supplier issue and also copied my review notes and all other 'well done' emails from my old boss. Its absolutely ludicrous that they would pull these 'issues' out of the air.

    At this stage, the way i feel is i just want out and want to move on, i can already see it would be very hard to work with my new line manager and interestingly, he went to lunch yesterday with a marketing agency (I'm a marketing manager). I think they;re trying to get rid of the in-house role to be honest.

    All im concerned about now really is my health and obviously making sure that if it gets so bad i have to have time off that they pay me what I'm owed. They also owe me expenses money, can they withhold that? And I'm also owed 8 days holidayicon, will they have to pay me that at the end of my sick term or if i resign?

    Also, is there anyway they can dismiss me whilst I'm off sickicon?

    And yes i am female, was it that obvious i have no idea what these 'personal problems' refer to. The only thing i can think of is that perhaps the director came to site whilst i was at a docs/hospital appointment and either made his own mind up about my absence or my old boss said personal problems instead of health issues. I can obviously back the appointments up with evidence from my doctor.

    I think this director has put 2 and 2 together and got 5. He see's the 'personal problems' and then the recent issue with a supplier and is now for some reason questioning my commitment. Its really upsetting that after two years of solid good work (I've won awards for my work there), working all the hours that god sends (I've worked through every holiday and sickness that I've had) that my commitment could even be under scrutiny.


    Thanks again.

    x


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    They can't withhold money and expenses that you are owed.

    keep us posted on how you get on. I thougbht from your tag you could have been called Nikki !!!!! LOL educated (almost) guess.


  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder nikkikitch Novitiate

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Haha, Sherlock! I thought it was the crying at my desk....

    I think they're just trying to get rid of me, I'm inclined to speak to them and just say, look we both know this hasn't been handled correctly so if you want me to leave, make me an offer and ill go! Do you think thats advisable?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    No. Because they will try and buy you off cheaply or know that they are getting to you and just hold out and you will go costing them nothing. Better to actually go off sick and make them do the work you have been doing. After all why slog your guts out for an unappreciative employer? Put in a grievanceicon stating that they have caused your illness because of the stress of x y z. Eventually you will go on to no pay and they will expect you to come back with your tail between your legs, unless of course you are supported (partner) in your efforts. If the grievance is handled badly and it will be because it will be a white wash, they will have the problem as to what to do with you. Dismissing you for an illness they have caused would be potentially unfair and depending on the length of time it takes could also become discriminatory (although you are a long way from that at the moment). The point being they should do the dirty deed and the longer they take the worse it is likely to be for them.


  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder nikkikitch Novitiate

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Ok, so I'm now off ill. Im seeing my doctor tomorrow and will get a doctors note hopefully.

    The HR Manager said she would prepare a report of our conversation and details of the probation, whats expected etc.

    When i call in sick again tomorrow and tell them that I've been signed off, should i be telling them thats its due to work related stress or just keep quiet for as long as possible and make them sweat?

    How do i raise a grievanceicon? With HR or with my line manager? I don't have a staff handbook or access to one, so don't know what their procedures are!

    Thanks x


  10. #10
    Basic Account Holder RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Follow the ACAS code of practice.
    http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2174

    Send it to HR.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    I suggest you wait and see what your GP writes. However you will be reporting you symptoms and telling why you have them, so s/he should write something like work related stress. When you write to your employer putting in a grievanceicon I suggest you write a separate letter telling them that you would appreciate that all communication is in writing and avoid telephone conversations. This will lessen stress levels and the written word is clear and cannot be denied.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    I'm just not sure a grievanceicon would work.

    It might help if i clarify the company structure. So, i basically work for a retail complex which is owned by a company who are the client, the client employs a management company to run the complex for them who i am employed by.
    The onsite team consists of myself, an office manager, a receptionist and a complex director who is my line manager and also contracted security and cleaning staff.

    The HR Manager who attended the meeting with myself and my line manager works for the management company and ultimately her interests should be the employees welfare but her words were, the client is unhappy therefore we have to be seen to be doing something about that regardless of whether you think its justified! So, if i raise a grievance, there is no one who has my best interests in mind. My line manager and the HR Manager are ultimately tasked with keeping the client happy and if that means sacrificing me then so be it!

    see, its a tricky one!


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Tricky. But they have to have a grievanceicon procedure. Et's expect grievances to be attempted to be resolved before action (I know that is not on the agenda yet)


  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder nikkikitch Novitiate

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    ok. so if i get signed off tomorrow with work related stress, do i simply tell them that with no further detail? At what stage do i raise the grievanceicon? After the sick note has run out or during?

    Im honestly thinking that i just get signed off until my sick pay runs out and hopefully find another job in the meantime.

    Should i hint at a potential grievance or ET , it might make them panic a little and hopefully make me an offer to go! I honestly don't think i can go back.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Personally I would get the grievanceicon in asap. Give THEM the headache whilst you consider your future. if you find a job great, perhaps that will be the best thing, these things can get messy and stressful. If you don't get a job progress this as far as you can or want. Point is being there isn't helping you any more so give them the problem to sort out without you.


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    Basic Account Holder nikkikitch Novitiate

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Ok, thanks for all your help.

    one last thing, how do i formally tell them I've been signed off? Do i keep everything in writing now? So email in after my doctors appointment?

    another thing to note, i haven't had any response, not even an acknowledgement of me phoning in sick yesterday/today!


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Why don't you just send a copy of the note in !! Remember to keep copy for yourself and send original to DWP. The form is the route for ESA.


  18. #18
    Basic Account Holder nikkikitch Novitiate

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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    hmm, i don't have a scanner , could take a photo of it ha!

    I really don't want any phone contact with them after being so let down and feeling so bad about it, but I'm just wondering what their policy is on reporting in sick. If for example, you HAVE to phone in are they going to start playing funny buggers if i email and then withhold sick pay based on not reporting in the correct way? Just want to make sure I've covered every angle!


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    Get someone to phone in on your behalf?

    They can't withhold what pay you are due.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Bullying and workplace stress, if i get signed off can they stop my sick pay?

    keep everything in writing so you have a paper trail and if you do go the et way, dont tell them make their difficult like they made yours



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