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"Suspension" / "Contract breach"


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Hello All,

 

1st time posting here. Just wondering if you can shed any

 

light on a issue i'm having at work.

I work for a work from home company and have worked at 1

 

other location other than my home and they have known this.

I have basically been sent "home" or suspended without any

 

letters from work until I am at my home location. I was told

 

that this is due to security and that it says in my contract

 

that I should only work from my home location.

I asked for where it says this in the contract and was given

 

this: "Regarding the policy it is actually clause 5 of your

 

terms & conditions of employment which states:-

 

Your normal place of work will be your home address which is

 

stated on the first page of this contract"

 

This is true. On the 1st page of the contract it does indeed

 

state where this normal place of work is. However it does not

 

say you cannot work elsewhere or that this is your only work

 

location. I don't under stand what has changed in 3 years. I

 

have done it many times before and they have known it and not

 

said anything. If anything has changed I have not been

 

informed or given an ammendment to my contract.

 

I was told my logins had been suspended until I am at my home

 

location again.

 

TBH I don't know whats happened or where I am now. Is being

 

send home and told not to log in (and blocked from the

 

system) formal? If so I have not recieved any offical letters

 

to state why I have been sent home and what the next step is.

 

We connect to the internet to work via ethernet cable and VPN

 

and this is for security. I am concerned that apart from

 

location nothing else has changed. And that if this is such a

 

big deal then they need to review the whole working at home

 

thing.

 

Another thing they come up with is that we should not work on

 

a shared connection. And yet we are expected to use our own

 

personal broadband connection to log onto the vpn. A personal

 

bb connection is going to be shared at times. Where do I

 

stand in regards to this? Should they provide the bb and a

 

seperate line to guarentee a seperate connection? Is there

 

any law on this at all.

 

I don't know if I have been officially suspended and even if

 

I will get paid. I am guessing I won't. But should I be paid

 

if they are the ones who have "suspended" and blocked me from

 

coming into work?

 

Sorry for so many questions. I'm just feeling highly

 

confused!

 

Thanks in advance.

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Hello and welcome to the forum. I'm sorry to hear about your problems.

 

You shouldn't normally be suspended without pay, unless say there is a specific clause in your contract, from memory of another thread here. I think I remember that in most cases it's illegal. Do you have your contract of employment to hand?

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Unfortunately not as i'm not back home until tomorrow night. But I have had other issues before and got paid the whole way through.

Then I was issued with an official letter into my email box within hours saying what I had done, what would happen next etc.

I didn't even get a letter and this was christmas eve. Heard nowt since.

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Hi there. What is the nature of the work (you don't have to be overly specific if yyou don't want to). Is this a job which involves data processing or which involves sensitive information (client data, names and addresses etc) over the VPN connection?

 

I can see the employer perhaps being a little sensitive about security when using connections other than your own, but in reality, if you are connecting via a VPN, then the security is going to be no more or less affected by whose connection you use - the connection is only a carrier for the more secure VPN. How, I wonder, did they become aware of you not being at home? Have you used your own computer elsewhere, or somebody elses's (ie have you set up the VPN on another machine?).

 

However, it does appear that you have a specific term in your contract relating to the place of work - it must be at home, and on that basis the employer may well be entitled to prevent access unless you agree to work only from that location. However, depending on the nature of the employment, there may well be a case to complain about the lack of wages. Is this piece-work, or do you receive a regular, fixed salary? Have you actually been 'suspended' or merely prevented from accessing the network from other locations? You mention that they have 'allowed' you to access work from elsewhere in the past - did they actually agree to this, and in what way was permission given? You also say that there were issues in the past - were you warned on that occasion?

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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Yes I do have access to customer accounts and sensitive information so this I can also be of concern. But no physical changes. VPM over ethernet only. It doesn't work over the wireless.

They did know about me working from another location as I said when I was in work having some technical issues. And this is when they told me to go. I am using my own machine as I always do. The VPN is run from a cd via linux. I don't understand how that term can be as only being able to work from X location, It just says that X is your usual location Not the only location that you must work at. And it is indeed my usual location 99% of the time. This is indeed a full regular salary paid fortnightly.

I don't think I have been officially suspended due to the lack of letter telling me such. I was just told due to security I can no longer work until I return to my home location and not to sign on and that my work id's will be suspended so that I could not log in. But tbh the company I work for is so disorganised that I really don't know if I am or not.

I have informed my manager on previous occassions where I will be working and mentioned to him whilst at work where I am. I cannot remember ever asking for permission. So this was verbal/over company messaging program. This time my manager asked what I was doing for christmas and I had informed him we would be staying with the inlaws. He knows they live hours away and that this involves me staying over and working from there. So mostly it was all in passing converstion. But I have a feeling several years back we were given permission if it was kept on the quiet and not made public knowledge. I cant remember if this was whilst in training or not long after I started. But there is a lot of rules for some and not for others that goes on and thngs change over night.lol. I prefer to be honest so have always informed my manager when I have been elsewhere.This time he was on leave so it was a different manager that picked up on this.

 

Issues in the past was suspension for a completely different matter. I was just basing this experience on that. I don't know whether this is suspension and suspect not due to the lack of letter. And at that time I recieved a letter within hours.

Edited by savedbygrace
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Right. Thanks for that. First and foremost, you need to make sure that you are still paid as normal. Suspension without pay (if indeed it is a suspension, but even if not) is usually unlawful, and could represent an unlawful deduction from your wages unless (and this is highly unlikely) there is a clause in your contract where you have signed an agreement that in the event of being prevented from logging in you agree not to be paid.

 

The second point, and this depends on whether you want to rock the boat as to how you put it, you need clarification as to when it is acceptable to work from another location. Your contract specifies that you normally work from home, and I suspect that the company will say that the exception would be if you were asked to attend another premises - the company office, for example. If they have previously given you permission (whether on the quiet or otherwise), then you need to remind them of this and ask why this has changed. You also need clarification on the security aspect of using the broadband connection at home. I suspect that they do not mean 'shared' as in the home connection also being used by others, but more that it is secured and not a wireless hotspot available to the wider public. With my connection, for example, I would normally connect from home, but if the broadband were to go down I can used the 'Cloud' network at my local McDonalds (similarly if I am away overnight and don't want to pay for access from my hotel). If I were to start just using any old wireless network though, there is a potential for data from your machine to be accessed by others, or to introduce viruses to the network. This needs to be explained so that you understand whatever limitations the employer is placing on you. If they are though requiring a dedicated broadband connection, then it is only fair that they pay for this, but I doubt that this will be the case.

 

For the time being however, you have now been told that it is not acceptable to log in from an alternative premises, so make sure that you don't otherwise they will have you bang to rights

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There is indeed no clause that I says I won't be paid. So I should have full pay and will discuss this tomorrow with my manager.

 

In regards to the working at another location something else says: "You shall not connect any unauthorised peice of computer equipment to any network or other item of computer equipment".

 

I don't understand if that means connecting computer to another network?

 

I will ask for clarification on this in the contract and also what has changed and why.

Under schedule 1, whatever that means - it says you are not obligued to work overseas for a period exceeding one month at at time and accordingly there are no particulars to be entered in this regard. Does this mean I could work overseas and not a home location?!

 

As for the network connection via internet and saying I must not have a shared connection there is nothing in the contract about this at all.

 

"You also need clarification on the security aspect of using the broadband connection at home. I suspect that they do not mean 'shared' as in the home connection also being used by others, but more that it is secured and not a wireless hotspot available to the wider public"

 

Unfortunately there intention IS about other people being on at the same time! I always connect via ethernet. As when the cd boots up it won't let you connect without it. There is no option to connect over the wireless at all. They used to use the excuse that when others are on the internet also it can make the connection unstable and cause technical issues.

 

"If they are though requiring a dedicated broadband connection, then it is only fair that they pay for this, but I doubt that this will be the case."

 

I will get clarification on this also! What happens if this is the case but they refuse to pay? I can't kick people off my own personal connection lol.

 

I will post back when I have more info. I will try and log in tomorrow as normal now I am home. If I am still blocked I will send an email to say I have tried to log in from home. And for them to contact me once I am unblocked so I can return.

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Ok so I tried to log in at 4pm. Logins still suspended. Emailed to say I had tried to log in. Reply 30mins later telling me to log in. Spoke to manager who said it is all official. They are taking it to disaplinary. My manager said it has gone to higher level above him to his manager. She is off until Monday. So I won't hear anything til then. He says the shared connection is to do with not with security but stability of systems. And that part of the contract says you need a stable working connection with working systems. And i'ts tied into that. The disaplinary is for being at another location. It seems that despite the "your work location is X" clause you can still work elsewhere. Just you need permission first ... and I will now have full pay.

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To take it to a disciplinary is bizarre to say the least, and you need to fight that. Wait until you have formally been advised of what you are supposed to have done and given a date for a hearing, and we will help you from that point.

 

In short, unless there are other clauses in your contract relating to your working location, then there is no cause for disciplinary action - you have done nothing contrary to your Terms and Conditions, and they are sufficiently vague that you have not breached them - it doesn't actually say that you can't work elsewhere, merely where your normal place of work is.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all,

 

I have finally recieved the invite to the formal meeting today.

The only problem is my manager has made up the informal investigatory meeting!

I had spoken to him in an informal chat asking him questions and he asked me some and the said that he would need to put some questions together so that we could have an informal meeting within the next few days. But I never heard anything.

 

Now there are copies of the notes from our chat and he is calling this the investigatory meeting.

Also he has twisted some of my words.

 

I had said I was not aware of asking permission to work elsewhere and that I assumed it was ok as I have done so for the past 3 years and on those occassions mentioned it in passing conversation. So he had already known about me doing it before.

 

He twisted this into:

 

"I assumed that I could work from my in-laws house as I had done the same previously. I got permission the last time to work from their house."

 

I am guessing he is trying to cover his back. As if they knew he knew I had done the same but he had not got permission for me then he would be at fault?

 

This will take place on Friday afternoon. I am trying to compile an email to dispute what he has said. Should I demand another meeting? Where do I stand? What do I do now? :|

 

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No. Don't ask for another meeting as this will just muddy the waters even more. Write a short letter confirming receipt of the notes given to you and express concern that you were told that the 'chat' that you had was in order to prepare notes for an 'informal meeting' however the latter has not taken place.

 

Secondly you are concerned that what has been written in the notes was not what was discussed during your chat. Introduce the phrase "...as you will recall, you accepted that I have mentioned that I would be working from another location when I have done so for the last three years and this has not been queried, however the notes that I have been given do not make this clear...."

 

If he wants to twist things then bounce it back at him. Retain a copy of your letter and if this proceeds to a formal meeting without them reverting back to the 'informal' stage, then introduce your letter at the start of proceedings together with your concern that due process hasn't been followed and the inaccuracies in the Manager's notes have not been addressed.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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You will have to reject the notes and say that you did not say this and have never agreed the notes. Make a statement of your own describing what you can recall of the converstaion and say that this is your version of events. The employer will have to decide which they believe.

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I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.

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How does this sound?

 

In the conversation attatched you said "We will need to have a investigatory meeting within the next few days to take some notes for Name. We can do this now or later if you prefer." I had said that I don't mind doing it now to get it out the way but you said you would actually need time to get some questions together before this could happen. So I had said that is ok just let me know when. And you said you would contact me. But as we have had no further discussion since then I do not understand why the informal chat turned into the investigatory meeting.On the 30th Decemeber you were unclear as to whether this was going to me made formal or not as NAME had not returned from leave to ask HR. You only confirmed to me on Friday 21st January that Leisha had confirmed this was to be treated formally.

 

In regards the post above I have also put this:

 

"I did not say I got permission last time. I have said to you from the beginning that I never knew we had to have formal permission. And I said that on previous occassions I had mentioned in chat that I was going to be working from the inlaws as passing conversation.

But I have never ever before asked for formal permission to do so. I never knew we had to. But I did say I assumed I could do so as I have been doing

since I joined 3 years ago and that you knew about this previously from when I had mentioned in passing chat.

 

Please can you update this?

Can you also send me a copy of the email/document that says we need to ask for formal permission? I don't recall this at all."

 

 

Is that ok? Have added in the comment above also.

 

Edited by savedbygrace
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All sent to his email this morning. I hear he is not in work today and maynot be tomorrow either.

So it looks like I will need to either print this out to read before I read my statement or add it into my statement somehow. I am just scared of sounding rude however I word things!

 

Time to start writing ...

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Ok I have had a reply he has amended the notes. And also replied that nothing exists in his possession to ask for formal permission.

 

I have a statement I have wrote. I don't think I am going to win they are fighting this term of usual location to mean I need to work here hard. Also I have a list of questions for them to clarify procedures. Do I have to ask these my self or can I get the person present with me to ask them?

 

Am I aloud to say I disagree with the clause in the contract meaning I can only work at my home location?

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