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ConsumerMark

Help with unfair dismissal for gross misconduct

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I am a builder / kitchen fitter who had worked for a small company in Hull for over 7 years.

 

During that time I have always done a few jobs on the side to make extra money, for example if one of our old customers wanted a repair then the boss would ask us to do it out of hours for cash in hand.

 

Sometimes, if it was a bigger job there would be two of us working at the weekend and even the boss has been with me in the past and split the money with me.

 

A few weeks ago, I was called into the office on a Friday and asked about a job for (lets call her mrssmith). It was a job that we had done a few months ago and she had asked us to go back and make a few adjustments which myself and a collegue had been paid 20 quid each for.

 

I was suspended and after a week, I received a letter asking me to attend a meeting where I could be sacked. The eltter listed 20 jobs that I had allegedly stolen from the firm and the letter witnessed 3 customers who agreed.

 

At the meeting, I stood my ground and proved with company invoices and timesheets that most of the jobs were for the company. I also asked for statements from the witnesses and it seemed that one was a made up name, and since the meeting the other two said that they agreed with me. The meeting ended with me still on gardening leave but they were going to investigate further.

 

After only two days the boss and a man i dont know came to my house, i asked them in but he said that i was sacked and handed me a letter. he also requested some equipment from the van - some of it was mine and i refused and he took the good drill and a few other powertools.

 

I have written to appeal and have been given a date of 3rd September next week. I dont hold out much hope as I think that they are trying to get rid of me on the cheap and it hursts after the years I have given them.

 

Can anyone give me any advice please, Im not sure what to do next and my bank account is already empty and it is so hard to get a job without a reference.

 

Do you think they might back down and offer to settle and if not it could be months before an appeal and i might not win.

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Hi ConsumerMark Re "Do you think they might back down and offer to settle and if not it could be months before an appeal and i might not win." In my experience employers will never back down. They have the resources and and you don't. So they always feel they have the upper hand. It takes great courage, tenacity and pigheadedness to stand your ground and fight them It seems that you have all that and more as you have already destroyed their reasons to sack you. The reality is that you are sacked and you need to decide where you are going from here on.

 

The first thing I would do is suggest you look at whether you have any legal protection insurance. You could have them in a home contents insurance or the like. Employment disputes are covered normally. Are you in a union (I suspect not)? Have you still got all the evidence you write about? keep it. If you don't sit down and write about all that has gone on. At some time in the future the company will need to disclose the paperwork they rely on and which was used in the meeting. Make notes of all the conversations you had with the bosses including the supervisors that allocated the jobs. Note the addresses, These customers will verify your story and can be asked for a letter or statement. It is all about gathering the evidence in and presenting it in due course.

 

It does sound like you need legal advice as the way you have been treated is appaling.

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Hi thanks for the advice. I dont have legal cover on my home insurance so I may have to look at a no win no fee advisor.

 

On a financial front, this site in a mine of information and I will be sending letters to creditors asking for a few months of breathing space which will hopefully make things easier in the short and medium term.

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I don't think solicitors deal with employment matters on No Win No Fee as costs are not generally recoverable in the ET.

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You should be able to see an employment lawyer for 30 minutes free of charge, as an initial interview. If you don't know of any, the CAB usually have contacts, or maybe you have a local Law Centre?

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I have been to the local CAB and saw two student lawyer for half an hour.

 

They said that I have a good case but as I was on a high wage of over 600 per week then they may not be able to act for me.

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Just as an update, I had an appeal meeting which is hard to say if it went well or not.

 

However, after the meeting there was an off the record discussion where i was offered a sum of almost 4 months money (but tax free) and in addition the ownership of some specialist tools.

 

I have received a pre-compromise agreement which has been prepared by their solicitor and is basically a gagging order.

 

However it does not withdraw the sacking and the claims.

 

 

Also it does not say that I am being made redundant or similar.

 

Is the above two points important?

 

Im thinking that leaving a job for no reason would look odd to a future employer.

 

Also, if the worst happened and I need to claim benefits would my reason for leaving also be important?

 

I have been trying to read up on this but any advice is very very appreciated.

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Who was present at the off the record discussion? Sounds to me that they admit nothing but want shot of you and have basically offered you money to go quietly. If you ask me it sounds to me a bit cheap.

 

Off the record conversations usually are prefaced but the words "without prejudice" This means that you can discuss offers of money but are not bound by the discussions or writings unless you agree to the offers when it then basically becomes a contract .

 

How much would you be entitled to if you were made redundant? How do the two figures equate to each other.

 

If you were minded to go but it is only the money that is stopping you you could write back to them refusing that offer but making one that would be acceptable to you. If you did that you should always head the letter "Without Prejudice" that way they can't use it against you in any trial.

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just to say that the money offered is a lot more than i would be entitled to through the redundancy counters and im thinking that it is enough for me to stick my next out and start for myself.

 

my main worry is around the reasons for leaving and the wording. im worried that new employers will think i am crazy to walk away from a good job and if the worst comes to the worst i wont be entitled to benefits for walking out of a job. can anyone help with this?

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It sounds to me as though they sacked you without knowing what procedures they should have followed to do so. That is very likely to result in a finding of unfair dismissal by a Tribunal, so now they are trying to find a way out.

 

Does the agreement that they have asked you to sign offer you an amount of money that they would pay to a solicitor for you to take advice? If not then the agreement wont do them much good anyway.

 

In short you are in a negotiation it is up to you to ask for what you want from them.

 

Good luck

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I think I would take the money and negotiate the compromise agreement - perhaps with a decent reference??. After all you wont want to go back to them after the treatment, and it does give you a head start.

 

You wouldn't be entitled to benefits if you have received some redundancy payment, although you can sign on and if it isnt redundancy pay or pay in lieu of notice, then they will assess the case individually - if you are officially 'sacked' you are effectively in the same position with the benefits people anyway...and without the payout..go for it, and get a better job elsewhere, or get that business started!

 

just to say that the money offered is a lot more than i would be entitled to through the redundancy counters and im thinking that it is enough for me to stick my next out and start for myself.

 

my main worry is around the reasons for leaving and the wording. im worried that new employers will think i am crazy to walk away from a good job and if the worst comes to the worst i wont be entitled to benefits for walking out of a job. can anyone help with this?

Edited by helencb
clarification

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Not legally qualified however from personal experience:

 

You can ask for a pre-written reference to be agreed as part of a compromise agreement and the reason for leaving. This is probably your best option as the stigma of "gross misconduct" is a hard one to shake as I know from experience. I was unfairly dismissed following my refusal of a compromise agreement after years of bullying finally lead me to refuse to do someone elses job anymore. I used my house insurance legal protection (another mistake) who insisted that I accept a settlement offer prior to tribunal and left me with no insurance protection and trouble getting benefits as I had "caused" my sacking because there was no tribunal statement that I had been unfairly dismissed and the employer claimed the settlement was "an economical" decision rather than the fact they had no grounds.

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