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Hi all, yesterday i was suspended from work, pending an investigation.

The investigation is in reference to a website i have set up.

I work for a finance company offering mortgages, iva's debt managements and insurance.

 

The website i set up was designed to generate leads for life insurance by having a link to a price comparison website.

 

My employer is claiming this is a disciplinary issue as it is in breach of my contract relating to conflict of interest.

 

The way they have interpreted the website, is that they think i am trying to sell insurance and therefore taking business away from them.

This isnt what it was designed to do, it is purely designed to refer people elsewhere - it cannot be used for anything else as i am not FSA registered or registered for DPA.

 

It was just something i did to see if it would work and if i could generate any leads, potentially these leads would then be beneficial for the company i work for, as it is the company who would possibly buy the leads!

 

My main mistake is i did this on a work PC, albeit on a lunch break and on a PC that i am allowed to use for the internet

 

I told them in the initial meeting that it was me being naive and if it was a problem i would take down the website.

 

My other concern is that i have been thinking about leaving anyway, and have been looking into the feasibility of working for a friend.

the website and my research on the two are not linked, but i can see that they could potentially try to link the two.

 

Now here is my main issue - i know lots of things about the company that if the truth got to the powers that be, and knowing that the company is currently trying to find investment, would more than likely spell ruin for the company.

 

So, what i want to know is, are the things that i have done, grounds for dismissal (i have worked there 3 years and have no prior disciplinary problems)

 

and two, what happens if i disclose the information i know about the company?

 

i know this is a little complicated, just want to get my head around it before my meeting on friday.

 

thanks!!

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Hi there,

 

What does your contract of employment say about 'conflict of interest'?

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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It doesn't, the point in the contract they are referring to is on relation to who I can deal with AFTER I have left the company.

I have had the disciplinary today, their arguament surrounds the fact they view the website in direct competition to them and the fact that I made and enquiry to one of their lead companies about generating business should I set up on my own.

Basically, it's one of the senior managers trying to flex his muscles and set a precedent to the rest of the company.

The other thing he said was he would NOT take into consideration my previous exemplary record with the company into consideration - surely he has to?

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If there isn't anything in your contract about conflicts of interest, I don't see how they can class this as gross misconduct. You say there is a point in your contract stating who you can deal with after leaving the company... well thats a strange one! Your contract does not extend that far! What it should stipulate is who you CANNOT deal with while WORKING at the company.

 

If they dismiss you over this, you would simply have to show at the subsiquent ET that your website was not in competion with your employers in fact it could of been seen as an initiative on your part to generate leads. I'm surprised they hav'nt congratulated you instead of giving you a hard time over this! Are you sure they have interperated your idea correctly? I take it your are still suspended and await their decission?

 

In any event, I would have a quiet word with ACAS about this and see what their take is.

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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It doesn't, the point in the contract they are referring to is on relation to who I can deal with AFTER I have left the company.

I have had the disciplinary today, their arguament surrounds the fact they view the website in direct competition to them and the fact that I made and enquiry to one of their lead companies about generating business should I set up on my own.

Basically, it's one of the senior managers trying to flex his muscles and set a precedent to the rest of the company.

The other thing he said was he would NOT take into consideration my previous exemplary record with the company into consideration - surely he has to?

 

the statement in your contract saying who you can work with after you have left the company is bull****. and same if it said who you can not work with after leaving the company. as when you leave the comapnay that very contract is terminated. only way round it is if you signed a seperate contract to your employment contract that stated who you can and can not work with. but since its included in your employment contract then once you leave the company you are no longer tied to the contract as it will have been terminated. so you can work with whoever you like and nothing they can do to stop you.

 

With regards to your website well they are clutching at straws. because 1) you have not registered as a business or sole prorietor so therefore not in competiton with them as it is nothing more then a personal venture (i.e. personal reasearch). And 2) there is nothing in your contract stating that you can not run your own business whilst working for the company. (unless of course you havent mentioned it yet) so basically as your not a registered company or sole proprietor then you are not in brech of your employment contract and you are certainly not in competition with the company you work for, therefore they have no grounds in which to start disclipanary procedures against you nor do they have any legal grounds sack you or force you to close the website.

 

And i must point out that your employment contract is just that, a contract of employment nothing more. so to include statements that refer to subject not related to employment laws i.e what you can and can not do after you have left the company, means those said statements can not be legally enforced both during employment or after your employment has ended. infact, no one person can tell another person under contractual agreement what the other party to the agreement can or can not do once the contract has ended (in your case left the company), doing so is a breach of your human rights. as everyone has the right to assosicate with whoever they like and to start up their own website, business or do anything they like unless they have signed a contractual agreement that is specifically relevent to the matter i.e you signed a contract solely for the purpose of agreeing not to start up a business in compition to you current emplorer. such contracts most be seperate from each other and from employment contracts and contain there own sets of terms and conditions that both parties agree to. Although setting up your own business while in employment where it states you may not run your own buiness whilst working for the employer is acceptable.

 

You may find the following thread an interesting read as this person has similar issue with how his/her bosses reacted to a website he/she set up.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/employment-problems/226382-need-some-i-dont.html

 

basically if they were to dimiss you then yes it would be seen as unfair dismissal.

Edited by teaboy2

Please note that this advice is given informally, without liability and without prejudice. Always seek the advice of an insured qualified professional. All my legal and nonlegal knowledge comes from either here (CAG),my own personal research and experience and/or as the result of necessity as an Employer and Businessman.

 

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