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Fear Of Dismissal - Gross Misconduct

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Hello to everyone. A friend of mine directed me the consumer action group website and from what I have seen so far it is an excellent site.

 

What brings me here is that I have been directed to attend a disciplinary on the 04-12-12 in the morning. I was advised of the disciplinary on the 30-12-12 at around 1600 and was given two copies of a letter advising that a disciplinary has been arranged. As per letter the purpose of the hearing is as follows:

 

"will be to discuss an allegation that I have been by-passing the proxy server in order to access websites which have been banned and watching non work related material on the internet during work hours".

 

I have also been handed a document by the name of "disciplinary procedures" in which under the title "rules covering gross misconduct" comes the following: "unauthorised use of the email and internet" Also in the employee handbook which I and the majority of colleagues I have asked have never received a copy of but potentially have signed a form claiming that we have viewed it, is contained the following statement under gross misconduct:

 

"unauthorised use of the email and internet"

 

 

To the story is itself. I am going to be honest. I have been going on the internet mainly to listen to songs from youtube, also go on a few other websites. But never no adult sites or any other "dodgy" sites. The internet itself has been locked by the company however another device which was already installed on my computer allows access to the internet.

 

 

The issues are the following. I don't have a clue if the correct procedure is being followed by my manager in terms of the disciplinary. I was told on the 30-11-12 in the afternoon that I would be having the disciplinary hearing on the 04-12-12. My first question is should there not be any meetings held prior to the final hearing disciplinary? Also,I have not been provided details of the specific allegation itself or any other evidence that they have against me. I requested this evidence however was told this would be made available on the hearing itself? To me this doesn't seem correct as in a court of law all charges and evidence is made available to the defendant before entering court. The only information that I have been given so far is that another employee has caught me going on the net. They are going all out to ensure I get sacked by not providing me with information that I feel I am entitled to so as to disarm me and put me in a weaker position.

 

 

Another point I have is that many of my colleagues browse the net or listen to music on you tube or even watch video's whilst working however I am the one that has been singled out. I am not sure if records of my internet usage will be put forward by my manager who is conducting the hearing however if this is the case evidence showing usage of my colleagues will also be available.

 

 

A bit about myself and my situation at work. My manager does not like me. To a former colleague of mine on a night out she described me as a d***head and backwards. I'm a reserved character, quiet at work and this is one of the reasons I feel she is coming after me. On the office floor she has told me to shut up and threatened me with a p 45. In addition anytime overtime is offered as my situation makes it very difficult to take this offer up I have had to decline it on the majority of occasions which has not pleased her. I have also in a polite manner questioned genuinely policies/changes/cases of favoritism which again have not please her.

 

 

Apart from the factors above which I feel are genuine I have not had a single day off work, am punctual, work hard and have high productivity. My point is I feel my manager has been searching for something to sack me on and this has put the fear of God into me. I fear If I am sacked I will struggle to ever find work again. I am not married yet and fear no one would want to marry me as I would not be able to support them financially never mind myself.

 

Since being told about the disciplinary hearing on the 30-11-12 I have not been able to sleep or eat properly. I am under a lot of stress and am extremely worried. The tag of being sacked is something I didn't ever think that I would have to worry about. This is a terrible situation to be in. I have been at the company for a year and three months and not a single day off sick.

 

My final question is that if i give my notice before the hearing, like tomorrow (03-12-12) would they still proceed with the hearing and potential dismissing? If so what If I called in sick and gave my months notice. IS this possible?

 

 

I am sorry for all the questions. I have attempted to complete my own research but there is so much conflicting information out there. All of your help is greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Chris

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First and foremost, is this the companies devices you used? ie laptop/desktop?

Who installed the software to circumvent the proxy?

Why was the software on there?

Have you a copy of the email and internet policy? If so what does it say?

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hi, you say that other people also access the internet from your work... yet none of the other people have a disciplinary hearing?

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hi, you say that other people also access the internet from your work... yet none of the other people have a disciplinary hearing?

Deano has apoint, does anyone else use the internet by cirumventing the proxy?

 

 

For others that dont know the proxy will have a white list of websites employees are allowed to visit and block certain sites dependant on content of what they cant view. The list on what is blocked is managed by rules that are downloaded from a 3rd party and also explicit rules the IT team can add. The user here has gone out on the raw connection going round the proxy so that all sites are viewable

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Deano has apoint, does anyone else use the internet by cirumventing the proxy?

 

 

For others that dont know the proxy will have a white list of websites employees are allowed to visit and block certain sites dependant on content of what they cant view. The list on what is blocked is managed by rules that are downloaded from a 3rd party and also explicit rules the IT team can add. The user here has gone out on the raw connection going round the proxy so that all sites are viewable

 

Thank you for your replies. All the equipment is the companies. Other colleagues are also circumventing the proxy. This was installed by a colleague via USB.

 

I have never bn given a specific e-mail/internet policy unless this is contained in my contract which I have2 check tomorrow.

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I am sorry to hear of your predicament.

1]Can your computer be used by anyone else.

2] Do you know if your computer is being used by anyone else

3] if yes, would they have to log in as that other person

4] could someone use your computer without your knowledge whilst the computer is logged in your name?

 

I am trying to get you to be able to argue that instances of your computer registering as being on the internet may have occurred when you were not at your computer. And if you have returned to

your computer and it has been left on the internet by a previous user, use that as well.

 

Also bear in mind that even if you are found guilty of this gross conduct, it may not lead to dismissal but just a letter of warning. I understand that if dismissal is likely, then you should be

informed of that. You should also be able to have a companion with you [like a Trade Union rep or perhaps someone from ACAS] though that may be at the discretion of your company's

rules. It might be worthwhile pointing out that you have never had access to their rule book thus making a defence difficult for you and you would like a copy before answering their questions.

 

It may be that this is just a preliminary hearing when they will explain why they have called you in and give you the chance to put your case to them. If it is a full hearing with their decision

made at the end, then you should comlain straight away that they are not adhering to ACAS guidelines and ask that they postpone the hearing until you have an Acas rep with you.

 

I have included the ACAS guidelines for you here-

http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/s/o/Acas-Guide-on-discipline-and-grievances_at_work_%28April_11%29-accessible-version-may-2012.pdf

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USB? lol, their security is so lax if they let staff use USB

 

as your colleagues also use the internet, then you could ask why are you being victimised?

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I am sorry to hear of your predicament.

1]Can your computer be used by anyone else.

2] Do you know if your computer is being used by anyone else

3] if yes, would they have to log in as that other person

4] could someone use your computer without your knowledge whilst the computer is logged in your name?

 

I am trying to get you to be able to argue that instances of your computer registering as being on the internet may have occurred when you were not at your computer. And if you have returned to

your computer and it has been left on the internet by a previous user, use that as well.

 

Also bear in mind that even if you are found guilty of this gross conduct, it may not lead to dismissal but just a letter of warning. I understand that if dismissal is likely, then you should be

informed of that. You should also be able to have a companion with you [like a Trade Union rep or perhaps someone from ACAS] though that may be at the discretion of your company's

rules. It might be worthwhile pointing out that you have never had access to their rule book thus making a defence difficult for you and you would like a copy before answering their questions.

 

It may be that this is just a preliminary hearing when they will explain why they have called you in and give you the chance to put your case to them. If it is a full hearing with their decision

made at the end, then you should comlain straight away that they are not adhering to ACAS guidelines and ask that they postpone the hearing until you have an Acas rep with you.

 

I have included the ACAS guidelines for you here-

http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/s/o/Acas-Guide-on-discipline-and-grievances_at_work_%28April_11%29-accessible-version-may-2012.pdf

If the machine was not locked and someone else was on their machine I would expect that to be covered under the computer misuse policy and the OP be in far more trouble for not locking it so I wouldnt use this at all.

 

USB? lol, their security is so lax if they let staff use USB

 

as your colleagues also use the internet, then you could ask why are you being victimised?

 

Totally agree but in using endpoint encryption they could copy the program onto a USB stick and still insert it, howerver I would be more concerned that users can install what software they want and obviously members of the local admin group

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Hi

 

Right lets get started:

 

my very first question although your recieved the letter about disciplinary were your rights explained in that letter (i.e. that you have the right to be accompanied by either a union rep or a work colleague?).

 

If you do feel this is short notice and you have no time to prepare for the disciplinary you are within your right to write or email (always keep a copy and always keeps a good paper trail) asking for an extension as you require more time to prepare due to the short notice.

 

Now the software to bypass server that is really the main reason for disciplinary dont take this the wrong way but when you were first aware of this did you at all raise this issue with other staff?

 

Also how long have you worked at your present employment?

 

I would also advise against handing in your notice during a Disciplinary for possible Gross Misconduct as this could be reflected in any future references from that employer.

 

What actual evidence do you have that other employees are carrying out the same bypass?

 

Something else to consider is that although you and from what you say other employees bypass the server all that information is actually logged and stored on the companies server. So bypassing the server will actually be loged on that server, the information on all the companies computers will be backed up on the server therefore they will be able to identify all those that have installed this software and those using that software todate to bypass server as it will all be logged on the main server.

 

These PDFs from ACAS may be of help:

Edited by stu007

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You must exercise your right to be accompanied and get that person to take notes of everything discussed.

 

You must present your case that whilst you may well have signed to say you had understood the company's policy that you were unaware of this specific requirement, that the bypass software was resident on your PC having been installed by somebody else, and that there are (many) others who also have this facility. It is common practice for staff to listen to music and that this seems to have been permitted over an extended period of time (all the better if you can substantiate that with any management who are aware and allow it to happen). Naturally having been made aware that this is wrong you will not use the internet for such use in future but ask them to understand that this was not a willful disregard of policy - and that you genuinely would not have done this had you known it was frowned upon as you are not particularly tech-savvy. You are a hardworking, punctual and conscientious employee and ask for the chance to prove this going forward.

 

It shouldn't be more than a slapped wrist, but the employer should certainly be treating you equally alongside other employees. In highlighting this as being common practice that is allowed to happen by the employer it becomes more difficult for them to single you out, but beware that this is not always a given - as my old mum used to say 'if so and so put their hand in a fire, would you?' - meaning that if the employer can reasonably prove that you knew you were doing wrong then it doesn't matter that others are doing it, if you happen to be the one that is caught!

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Thank you to everyone for your continued help.

 

All employee's have their own username/password's to login to computers. The different desk's I have been seated have always been shared with others. There is a possibility and I have done this on many occasions if I forgot to log out this would give access to my specific account.

 

I have been working at the company for a year and three months. In terms of evidence of my colleagues using the same process to access the net is me viewing the do this on a daily basis. Apart from that I have no written/documented evidence I could bring to the meeting. However my thoughts are that if my manager does present me with a list of websites that I have been viewing they will have this for other employee's also. Only problem there is the other employee's get on with management. Sorry I am confused about your point about when I first became aware of this. If it is the disciplinary you are referring to I was advised of this on the 30-12-12. My colleagues don't wanna know. Everyone is in it for themselves.

 

 

Sorry I didn't state this previously. In the letter it does state I am able to bring some else to the hearing from within the company only. No one external can be bought.

 

I also include the following passage from the letter advising me that I have a disciplinary hearing: " depending on the facts established at the hearing, the outcome could be a written warning, final warning or dismissal but a decision on this will not be made until you have had a full opportunity to put forward your version of events and the hearing has been concluded. I refer you to the company's attached disciplinary rules and procedure (outlined in the employee handbook) and to which I will be making reference".

 

 

Thanks for your help once again.

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What was meant by when did you first become aware of this, it is meant the circumvention of the proxy. This is because I assume Stu wants to know why you didnt point this out at the time of noticing it

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What was meant by when did you first become aware of this, it is meant the circumvention of the proxy. This is because I assume Stu wants to know why you didnt point this out at the time of noticing it

 

Thanks for clarification. It was a colleague who installed the circumvention so access to the net could be had. Many people were using the net so a colleague advised Hw it cud b accessed and added it to my account.

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Hi Lad81

 

So it was a colleague that installed the illegal software on the companies computer but if you were aware of this did you during that time raise this with any managers?


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I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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If the company hadnt authorised the software, then I would say that their policy is no internet usage.


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Hi Lad81

 

So it was a colleague that installed the illegal software on the companies computer but if you were aware of this did you during that time raise this with any managers?

Well it is not necessarily illegal software.

 

If the company hadnt authorised the software, then I would say that their policy is no internet usage.
They cannot say their policy is no iternet usage if they allow them on the internet via a proxy.

 

This depends I think on their computer policy and their email and internet policy which I would request copies of. It would be interesting to hear what their computer policy is about installing software when they havent gone to any lengths to prevent users from installing it. When your account was created whether a local or a network account you have been given local admin privileges by your company so they have some blame to take here

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Hi

 

@ transient i would have to disagree that the software is illegal and refer to the OPs initial post where they point out

 

' The internet itself has been locked by the company however another device which was already installed on my computer allows access to the internet'

 

and then in post#5 points out

 

'All the equipment is the companies. Other colleagues are also circumventing the proxy. This was installed by a colleague via USB'

 

As the equipment is company property anything installed would have to be with express permission of that company and as internet access is locked by the company then whoever installed that software using a usb has illegally installed that software on company property without company permission.


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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

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Hi, first step is to get the firm's internet and email usage policy. 'Reasonable' use should be ok and would appear to be in line with general practice. Then establish exactly what you are being accused of - from the first post the accusations seem to relate to specific websites you have been accessing rather than the amount of time spent on the net. I think you need to find out exactly what sites these are.

 

I don't think accessing the internet itself is going to be a problem, its certainly not gross misconduct, but bypassing the proxy might be an issue. Were the company aware of the software which was installed to allow the proxy to be bypassed?

 

If you are the only one being singled out and this is because your boss doesn't like you, that could be a defence, but it will depend on what sites you accessed compared to other people and how much time was spent on the internet compared to others.

 

The common sense approach would be for the firm to remove the installed software and send round an email reminding staff of email and internet usage policy, but unfortunately this is a workplace disciplinary, so common sense is often an afterthought.

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