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HELP - facing gross misconduct for internet use?

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Hi

 

I know various people are in the same predicament as me but just wanted some advice / knowledge on my case.

 

Job - Officer type

Company - Local Council

Employment time - 3 Years

Previous issues - NONE AT ALL!!

 

Back in Aug 09 I was called into see the manager and was asked to bring my laptop and was told by the manager she had concerns with my level of personal net use and felt she had no choice but to esclate this to HR.

 

i was asked for my time sheet for the last few months as i also was accused of falisifyin my timesheets as they did not reflect when i was on the net!!

 

They did not suspend me but relocated me to the same building as the manager for which i worked from till recently.

 

I contacted my union rep who has been attending the disciplinary meetings. At the first intial meeting i was given a stack load of evidence when i was on the net, for how long and what sites i accessed... which tbh i couldnt argue againts and admitted i used the net.

they tried to determine that the alleged excessive use was affecting my productivity but as this was CLEARLY not the case they didnt pursue that.

 

anyway a couple of weeks later i was contacted and told the decison was made to take it a full hearing, which i was a bit shocked with as i never been warned or been in any form of trouble before.

 

but then the following day i was called in again by the manager and told to go to a meeting the following morning with a view to suspension me due to further allegations of net use.

 

so the next day i was duly suspended and have been for a few wks now.

 

i since found out that another person made the allegation in another office which i was originally based and still visit. HR interview this person and two other witnesesses who say i had been seen accessing non work related sites at the office.

 

HR did a check on the PC's and found some material (nothing offesnive just ebay type websites) but couldnt specify dates, times like previously as these PCs were not linked to the concils systemns so could not track them.

 

So i have been told a few days ago i have my proper hearing next week wher a director of the company will be chairing along with some reps from HR!!

 

My question is where do i stand, will i get dismissed??

 

as u probs kno the local council got all policies around IT use, etc.

 

another thing that since working in the larger office with manager i see variuos other colleause accessing the net at variuos times throughout the day and for long periods... but nothin is happening to them?

 

all advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Edited by adam246

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Depends what the policy says. I worked for a local authority and if it were lunchtime say, they said it was ok to use the internet for personal use as long as this permission wasn't abused. Most big organisation keep records of internet use and what sites are visited by staff. Big organisations also have firewalls in to stop you accessing inappropriate sites.

 

The question is what is considered abuse - it's about perception. One manager may not mind you having a quick look on say the BBC website during working hours, but another might.

 

Personally I only use the internet for personal use during lunchtime.

 

With regards to the hearing you must get someone to come with you. Are you in a Trades Union? If so contact the local office.

 

Best of Luck.

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thanks for respone.

 

the policy allows net use in personal time but obvioulsy im getting done for using it outside my lunch break!

 

ive not accessed any dodgy sites or any matrial of porn or that may be seen to dmage the councils reputation!

 

u rite ther about managers bein different as a manager who sits by me goes on net on various occassions and so does her team whereas mine is definitely one of those always looking brownie points to work her way up the ladder!

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I too work for a local council and have successfully defended a charge of email misuse (but I only sent the one personal email in the last six years).

 

Heres what you should do

 

1. Gather clear evidence of others using the computers for personal use during work time (this can be someone willing to sign a statement saying they had seen XXX using the internet on ebay site at 10 am on dd/mm/yy for half an hour etc., or a photograph, or a screenshot or anything else that proves the point -the more evidence you can get, the better. If you cant get anyone else, do it yourself - make a note of instances of when you saw misuse of the internet).

 

2. Get hold of the internet policy and the disciplinary policy and go through it with a fine toothcomb- have they followed the policy exactly? If they haven't are the breaches significant?

 

3. They are obliged to give you the statements and other evidence they are using to discipline you. When you get them, check carefully if there is any inconsistencies in the evidence.

 

For example, I was accused of undermining one of my team members (I am a Manager). The team member said that "In February Monkeychicken asked me to go to a meeting with the XYZ team because he was busy" Later in the statement the team member said "Monkeychicken did not tell me about a meeting aranged with XYZ team in August. I should have chaired that meeting and Monkeychicked was deliberately trying to undermine me".

 

I pointed out during the disciplinary that the first part of the statement proves that the team member should not chair the meetings or even go to them (because in February the team member only attended because I could not make it).

 

So watch out for inconsistencies like that.

 

 

If you care to post a bit more detail of the charges etc (or PM me if you dont want to post in a public forum), I'll see if I can provide more help.

 

thanks


I am not a lawyer, so all my advice is provided on the basis that you will check them with a trained legal professional with legal insurance.:(

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Hi

So i have been told a few days ago i have my proper hearing next week wher a director of the company will be chairing along with some reps from HR!!

 

My question is where do i stand, will i get dismissed??

 

as u probs kno the local council got all policies around IT use, etc.

 

another thing that since working in the larger office with manager i see variuos other colleause accessing the net at variuos times throughout the day and for long periods... but nothin is happening to them?

 

all advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

 

BTW Councils do not have company directors.

 

 

Are you suspended or are you working in another office?

 

 

If they have not given you all the evidence request an adjournment/ postponement to allow you to defend yourself


I am not a lawyer, so all my advice is provided on the basis that you will check them with a trained legal professional with legal insurance.:(

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BTW Councils do not have company directors.

 

 

Are you suspended or are you working in another office?

 

 

If they have not given you all the evidence request an adjournment/ postponement to allow you to defend yourself

 

he is not company director but a director of services.

 

yes i am suspended but was not originally until second set of allegations came in.

 

they have given me all evidence and info and hearing is tomorrow... so i could be unemployde officially from 2moro :(

 

i have a union rep to fight my side.

 

i owned up to using the net in works time in the first alleged net use through previuos investigatory meetings but they still decided to take it to a proper hearing and now with the second set of allegations (for which i got suspended for) are all witnesses as opossed to statistical evidence like the first time.

 

havin looked at the witness statements they are clear in that they saw me using the net but cant recall time and dates!!

 

the charges are exceesive use of the net which equtaed to around 20% (this is what stats showed for the first alleged use of the net)

Edited by adam246

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My advice regarding looking to inconsistencies in the statements stand. You should also say you feel you are being picked on because many others use the internet but are not disciplined.

 

However, be very polite and not antagonisitc.

 

Most LA's have a policy of giving a final warning (rather than dismissal) for all offences except the most serious ones. So, you have to get the Director to see you as someone who made a mistake, and just did as many others do in the office. Did not realise you could get into trouble for this. Never neglected you work and always gave 100% only went on the internet when there was a lull in the office.

 

Will never make that mistake again , had very good disciplinary record previously. verry sorry regret actions etc.

 

 

Hope its a positive outcome for you

good luck

 

let us know the outcome.


I am not a lawyer, so all my advice is provided on the basis that you will check them with a trained legal professional with legal insurance.:(

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BAD NEWS!!!!

 

got the sack this mornin with immediate effect!!

 

my union rep said we will appeal on the grounds of the punsihment was too harsh and inconsistencies when dealin with such cases.

 

im still shocked... as the investigating chair threw out claims of anomlaies to flexi sheets and the second allegations of net use due to no evidence!!

 

He also accepted that there ws no evidence of poor producity levels.

 

he basically said 20% of time was too excessive and warranted dismissal and thats it.

 

no mention of my unblemished previuos record with the company.

 

what do i do?

 

am i eligible for any state benefits if i have been sacked?

 

is ther any chance my appeal will be successful??

 

PLZZZZ HELP?!!

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Sorry don't know much about benefits to advise.

 

Get hold of your disciplinary and capability procedures and read through it very carefully.

 

At the place I work for, there is a specific clause that except for gross misconduct, no one should be dismissed for the first offence. Check to see if a similar clause exist, hopefully they used the same book to copy the procedures from.

 

As far as I can see you have not been charged with gross misconduct but with excessive use (they allow some use).

 

Remember that at your appeal, you are ONLY trying to defend the one charge that was found against you and nothing else, so dont waste your energy trying to justify anything alse.

 

Also, hoe did they prove that the time you were on the net was during work time?


I am not a lawyer, so all my advice is provided on the basis that you will check them with a trained legal professional with legal insurance.:(

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excessive internet is deemed as gross misconduct and it says this in the policy and i have been sacked for gross misconduct cos of this.

 

all employees log ins and net use are monitored always and had a stack loas of eveidence with exact dates, time of the use through my personal login.

 

i will be appealin but not expecting much to be honest as i cant see the CEO goin against his directors decsion to get rid of me.

 

getting a good refernce is my main issue now as wont be easy to get another job now!!

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Your best bet would be to discuss with your Union Rep as to what constitutes gross misconduct.

 

They admitted that the use of the internet did not affect your productivity. So why is it a gross misconduct issue? Have you been given any formal or informal instruction to stop using the internet excessiely?

 

Also raise the issue of others continuing to use it, even now.


I am not a lawyer, so all my advice is provided on the basis that you will check them with a trained legal professional with legal insurance.:(

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as staggering as it is... excessive use of the net is a gross misconduct charge.

 

they are not bothered about my performance, excellent previuos clean record, length of service, but jus stated as a senior officer (but no mngt responsibility) i should have known beta and that 20% net use during works tiome constitutes excessive use thus is gross misconduct!!

 

im just hoping my union rep can for am decent appeal.

 

any idea when i could receive the official letter of dismissal as i need this before i can put my appeal in.

 

also when would i get paid any owed wages / untaken holiday leave, would be after the appeal when they dismiss the appeal too?? as i need the money now!!

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Hi Adam.

Just read through your posts.

I'm ASTOUNDED!!:mad:

 

I've been on CAG for several months now, but this is undoubtedly the greatest injustice I've encountered.

Keep yer chin up mate.

We'll get the (edit)!!!

Edited by ErikaPNP
please refer to section 3.6 of the forum rules

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also when would i get paid any owed wages / untaken holiday leave, would be after the appeal when they dismiss the appeal too?? as i need the money now!!

 

This should be paid on your next normal pay date.

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Hi Adam.

Just read through your posts.

I'm ASTOUNDED!!:mad:

 

I've been on CAG for several months now, but this is undoubtedly the greatest injustice I've encountered.

Keep yer chin up mate.

We'll get the (edit)!!!

 

to add insult to injury i kno for a FACT a worker turned up drunk for work and drove to work mind u but neva got the sack!! another example being two colleagues one female other male sending explicit msgs to each other via works email with pictures and both did not get the sack!! where is the justice? where is the consistency?

 

im finding it hard to cope with all this... with no income for my family whatsoevr and being so close to xmas, the lack of jobs out there, no1 will look at me with a GM charge on my record!!

 

i really dont kno what to do... i will be appealin but not very optimistic about it and im pretty sure it'll be the same outcome unless my union rep can pull a miracle out of the bag!!

 

im gona go job centre 2day and see what support they can give me.

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Tell me about it. Out of work myself.

And I've got a council tax bill to pay.

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In regard to benefit, you should apply for Jobseeker's Allowance. Your benefit can be sanctioned for up to 26 weeks when you have been dismissed from your previous employment.

 

You should also apply for Council Tax benefit if you are responsible for paying council tax, and housing benefit/Local housing allowance if you rent.


My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

If my advice has been helpful, please show your gratitude by taking a moment to click on the star icon on the bottom strip of my post

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also when would i get paid any owed wages / untaken holiday leave, would be after the appeal when they dismiss the appeal too?? as i need the money now!!

 

This should be paid on your next normal pay date.

 

i just checked my account and notice i have been paid upto when i was sacked but not for my oustanding annual leave!

 

should i ask for this now or after the appeal?

 

secondly i have just handed in my appeal is there a minimum / maximum time limit for when they have to give me my appeal hearing??

 

thanks

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after speaking with HR i have been told i will only get about 4 days annual leave payment even though i have 12 days i did not take up until the dismissal.

Hr gave some baloney about the only have to pay the statuory leave entitlement?? what this? have i lost 8 days of pay which i feel i should be getting!!

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after speaking with HR i have been told i will only get about 4 days annual leave payment even though i have 12 days i did not take up until the dismissal.

Hr gave some baloney about the only have to pay the statuory leave entitlement?? what this? have i lost 8 days of pay which i feel i should be getting!!

 

 

I'm sorry to hear of your troubles Adam,

My partner has had similar work problems recently and the effect a sacking can have on family life is just awful,

 

Surely an appeal hearing (with an impartial chair) or indeed a tribunal judge would agree that 20% is alot BUT there is no proof you were actually on the personal sites for all that time. For instance, you logged into ebay to check a bid had gone through and returned to work, unaware that ebay keeps you logged in unless you "sign out" ??

Just an idea,

Good luck, hope it works out for you,

xxxx

xxxxxx

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Hi Adam. I can't give you a definitive answer, I'm afraid, but hopefully someone on the forum will come along. My gut reaction is that it doesn't sound right.

 

Is this the sort of thing the ACAS helpline could advise you on, come Monday?

 

I hope you get a good result.


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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if things could not get any worse, got a letter from job centre today saying my JSA could be stopped due to'arising doubts how my employment finished' and i will be notified when a decision has been made.

 

i have been open with job centre and told i had been sacked and not during the application processs or my intervieqw with them did they mention that there could be an issue with claiming JSA if been sacked!!

 

i have a wife and 1 yr old child to support and my wife is not working too...so if they decide to not give the JSA how will i survive as our income without this is ABSOLUTELY ZERO!!

 

as for the unpaid leave entitlement im gona ask my union rep... but i have now got a date for my appeal hearing. which im dreading!

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Unless there is something in your contract, you are entitled to payment for whatever leave was due up to the date of your dismissal. Your contract could, potentially restrict this to statutory leave (28 days per year pro rata) but cannot restrict it further.

 

Your leave is, in effect, part of your pay so failing to grant it can amount to illegal deduction of wages. This remains true even if you were dismissed correctly for the worst possible gross misconduct.

 

If you look on the CAB website (or business link which gives the same information from the employers perspective) you will find this confirmed.

 

I would suggest it may be worth printing out this information from an official website and sending it to them.

 

For what it is worth, my opinion of most so called "HR Professionals" couldn't be lower. They tend to be jumped up clerks who couldn't make it as a solicitor or whatever and have a massive chip on their shoulders. They rely on people thinking they must know what they are doing or being too scared to rock the boat. Having made little of their lives they compensate by spoiling other peoples!

 

Sorry, that has got it off my chest for today!


PLEASE NOTE:

 

I limit myself to responding to threads where I feel I have enough knowledge to make a useful contribution. My advice (and indeed any advice on this type of forum) should only be seen as a pointer to something you may wish to investigate further. Never act on any forum advice without confirmation from an accountable source.

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When they first became aware of the Internet abuse, why weren't you approached at that time? In fact by allowing it to continue they were condoning your actions.

Although they can state that they required evidence for proof in fact it became entrapment as they could have warned you about it after a week of observation. Obviously you are not liked by someone and this was the best way to get rid of you. Over what period of time was the evidence collected?

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