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i was pulled into a meeting with our HR mananger and director today and informed i would be suspended for breach of confidentiality, they didnt give me any details on what the breach was or where the acusation had come from, i work in an IT dept and obviously have access to allot of sensitive data, i have never knowingly accessed this data without consent or a need to do so, i have also never disclosed information to anyone, i just wondered what procedure my employers need to follow? also should they have told me what the allegation was? also i have never signed or even been given a contract of employment, should they have done this?

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If they're in the process of investigating an allegation, they needn't be too specific about the exact nature of the allegation. To do so, in some circumstances, might compromise the investigation.

They have a responsibility to investigate the matter 'without unreasonable delay', after which they should notify you as to how the matter might proceed. If they don't contact you, say, within a couple of days, it would be prudent to contact your employer to see what's happening.

 

An employer must provide their employee with a written statement of particulars of employment within 2 months of the commencement of employment. How long have you worked there?

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thanks for your swift response, i have worked for them for 7/8 years, i was told that as i had worked there so long i didnt need to sign anything as i had accepted their contract by continuing working, does this sound right, also can the fact that i havent signed a contract do anything for the suspension?

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Well, given that you're well established in your job, the terms and conditions of your employment are clearly implied by precedent.

The fact that they've not provided you with a written statement shouldn't be to your detriment at all, it's their statutory responsibility.

Failure to provide a statement is, in my experience, extremely widespread, particularly in small businesses. It's an obligation that's just not enforced, and many employers seem to feel that not providing T&C's in writing puts them in a stronger position, which it shouldn't.

 

It should be to your advantage in this situation; as you can argue, should they accuse you of misconduct, that you simply weren't aware that your actions constituted misconduct - as they have no written policies.

 

As of April last year, they no longer have a statutory obligation to follow minimum formal procedures in dealing with disciplinary matters. There are, however, ACAS guidlines about how they should deal with such a matter. Should they fail to do so, an Employment Tribunal could increase any award due to you.

 

I'd just sit tight for the time being and see what happens.

You should be suspended on full pay.

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yeah they did say im suspended on full pay, i honestly cant think what the accusation could be, as i said i dont tell anybody anything i do know just in case of this kind of situation, but just out of interest whats likely to happen to me if they do decide i was in breach of confidentiality?

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I don't know, is the simple answer. A disciplinary saction should be proportionate to the accusation, so for them to dismiss you it needs to be serious. Have you a previous disciplinary record?

It does seem strange, given that you can't think at all what you might have done wrong. Usually, people have an inkling of what the problem might be, even if it's not valid. I mean, you're obviously very well established in your job -has anything changed recently? Business quiet?

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i have had no previous disciplinary record, business is quiet at the minute and there has been gossip of redundancies, but as its just me and my boss in the IT dept it wouldnt make sense to get rid of any of us just yet as we still have 200 users to support.

one more thing what kind of proof do they need, is someone saying they saw me do something or say something enough, or do they need to prove i opend a file, read the info and passed it on?

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The burden of proof in civil law isn't as stringent as in criminal law - it need only be held that on the 'balance of probabilities' you are guilty of something for it to be upheld, whereas in criminal law guilt has to be proved 'beyond all reasonable doubt'.

This is something many people overlook.

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so again until i know what they are accusing me i cant do anything, im just running through posibilites and what if someone had used my computer to access information, what defense would that be?

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If it's feasable that someone else used your computer, then that would be an argument to put forward.

 

Remember that you have several years good service with this company, that's a strong mitigating factor - if they do allege that you've done something seriously wrong, it would be very much out of character. An employer should examine all avenues in disciplinary cases, and only dismiss if that is the only option left to them. That's something many employers overlook, only to have it made clear to them at ET.

Hopefully it won't go that far.

 

What size is this company? Do they have an HR Dept?

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i have racked my brains to think what has been said or done and honestly cant think of anything, the only other person to have my usernam and password is my boss, although i do leave my computer unattended so to be honest its the only thing i can think of, unless someone has accused me of something without any actual evidence, but again i dont know of anyone who would have that much hatred for me to go that far.

the company itself has around 300 employees but we are owned by a much larger company that owns companies throughout europe.

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Been there. Only thing you can do is try an put it out of your mind for the next month or so and see what develops. Use this time to some good use.

 

After about a month, drop them an email to say how disappointed you are at the length of time its taking and complaint about your continued suspension.

 

This is important because it turns out three month time limit for an act of suspension runs out three months after the date of suspension. Whereas the three month time limit for an act of continuing suspension runs out three months after the suspension is lifted. And if you havent complained about it, you cannot then bring a case to ET. So just keep your options open.

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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Been there. Only thing you can do is try an put it out of your mind for the next month or so and see what develops. Use this time to some good use.

 

After about a month, drop them an email to say how disappointed you are at the length of time its taking and complaint about your continued suspension.

 

This is important because it turns out three month time limit for an act of suspension runs out three months after the date of suspension. Whereas the three month time limit for an act of continuing suspension runs out three months after the suspension is lifted. And if you havent complained about it, you cannot then bring a case to ET. So just keep your options open.

I don't understand MC. This guy was only suspended today?!

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I'm making the assumption that it will take about a month before OP is told of the issues.

 

Lets hope I am wrong and everything is revealed on weds.

 

My advice is just to keep quiet and listen, no matter how hard it is, and how awkward the conversation goes. Saying anything simply commits you and then its difficult to backtrack.

 

Simply act the innocent and say you cannot explain the situation and will need time to recall how those things came to be on the laptop.

 

Also most importantly, have someone with you (Union rep preferably)

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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I didn't understand what you meant by time limits during suspension, MC.

I agree entirely about keeping in touch while suspended.

Few suspensions last for very long, employers don't like the idea of people sitting at home on full pay.:rolleyes:

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right i will have a think if there is anyone i want in with me, one more thing, i have been chatting to our receptionist at work, she was told by my director that i had been suspended and wasnt allowed in the building, she then over heard him talking to someone else in the reception area so that basicly anyone could hear him and he had said i have been accused by someone of breaching company confedentiality, i just wondered if there are any laws or guidelines which state they cant talk freely about my situation like this, as i havent given them permission to do so

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You should complain at the disciplinary hearing and say you'd like to raise a grievance.

 

However, be prepared to explain how it is that you have been talking to the receptionist at work, as the terms of your suspension most likely prohibit you contacting your work colleagues. Of course, if the receptionist calls you, you did not make the contact right? Check the terms of your suspension carefully.

 

You can always raise the grievance after your suspension is lifted.

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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the receptionist gives me a lift to work, so i obviously had to tell her i wouldnt be in for a couple of days, which is when she said she already knew, to be honest all i have is a letter saying that i have been suspended and the reason why, it doesnt go into much detail

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In that case you should write to your HR and raise a grievance for breach of confidentiality- or if you wish, wait till the disciplinary hearing itself, which may be a better tactic.

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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correct.

You have a right not to be undermined and your standing/status adversely affected and reputation tarnished by rumour and innuendo.

 

They could be in breach of Data Protection Act, in addition to a number of employment rights - but you dont need to point out which legislation- simply grieve about the breach of confidentiality.

 

You must remember, until investigations are complete and disciplinary action is taken against you, you are presumed innocent- this is a basic right in all judicial and quasi-judicial hearings.

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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