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Hi - I'll try to make this as concise as possible!


My wife works as a nurse at a dental practice (mainly NHS patients). She returned to work this week after a weeks sick leave (not related to the disciplinary issue) and was called into a meeting with the practice manager immediately upon arrival. She was advised that she was expected to attend a meeting that lunchtime with one of the dentists regarding complaints made, which she did with some trepidation. She was informed that certain complaints had been made about her surgery whilst on sick leave, two of which she vehemently denies, the others (apart from one) she wasn't clear on, and the remainder she accepted there may have been an issue. This is the second time in as many months where the practice manager has gone down a disciplinary route (the first time informally), and my wife has told her boss that she feels she is being singled out/stabbed in the back.


At the end of this preliminary meeting, nothing had been adequately resolved so she now has a "formal" disciplinary meeting this coming Monday and, although she has been told she can take a colleague in as a witness, the practice manager has decided to use the person who has made the "complaints" as her note taker and "impartial observer"! I have advised my wife that this is unacceptable (how can you ask the "accuser" to be impartial toward the "accused"?), so she should ask for a totally independent person to be in there. She has also been accused of health and safety breaches as part of this "disciplinary", but no proof has been provided, just the word of the complainant, which (I'm sure) is inadmissable.


It is a commonly-held belief that my wife's boss has basically realised that she's "screwed up" her staffing and is trying to find a way to resolve it by using any means she can to reduce numbers, thinking my wife is an easy target. She doesn't want to lose her job, doesn't want to leave her job, but also doesn't want to have an official reprimand on her record just because someone is being bloody-minded.


Are we right in assuming that :


a) she can refuse to attend the meeting if the "impartial observer" is clearly NOT impartial

b) demand to have "charges" removed as there is no proof provided (something she strongly denies doing, just hearsay)


There are other concerns (validity of her contract, favouritism between staff, unfair pay scales, etc), but the immediate thing is this disciplinary.


Many thanks for reading, and for any advice/help offered.

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just a question. although angry, if, they are looking to cut heads, do you think being the one who "refuses" and "demands" is going to help her position at all?

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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How many complaints have been made? you say in your post that she denies two, not clear about some and there may be validity in others? seems like a lot of complaints also she has had an informal meeting about her work was nthis also about similar complaints?. How long has she worked there? and what sort of complaints are they and were they made by patients or other staff? sorry for all the questions just wanted to make things clearer

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Emmzzi - my wife isn't the bolshy type, but it's come to a point where if she doesn't fight her corner, she's going to get trampled on. In the past she's taken unfair comments and workplace bullying without causing a fuss, but it's clear to her (and to other members of staff) that she's now being victimised. She's even told her boss that she feels like she's being deliberately "pushed toward the door". Maybe my wording has made it sound like she's a battleaxe!


Assisted Blonde - There are six "allegations". One regarding a sharps pin and one regarding waste clinical material being left out are being strongly denied, one regarding a waste paper bin and another regarding a clinical waste bin are not being contested (but only because she is not 100% sure of their validity and she accepts that there's a vague possibility she may be at fault). Another allegation is regarding the cleanliness of her surgery which she is fighting (the exact nature of the cleanliness is due to the sloppiness of the dentist involved and the fact that the practice manager has not supplied the correct cleaning materials in order to rectify the situation - in fact, she is expected to use an implement that ultimately comes into contact with a patients mouth in order to clean the floor!). The sixth item is a misplaced/unfilled surgery item which she accepts she may have forgotten to do.


The previous "informal" discussion was regarding lateness, which is under dispute (due to family circumstances, there have been times when my wife has needed to request emergency parental leave, which she is of course entitled to, but her boss has been uncontactable - ie doesn't answer the phone (despite her contract/T&C clearly stating that she must contact the practice manager before 8am in these circumstances) - so she has ended up getting to work late as she's not been able to get an ok for an emergency leave day. She has even denied my wife the right to emergency leave in the past on two occasions, once when both our child and I were seriously ill, another time when I had been taken by ambulance into hospital with a suspected heart attack.


The complaints appear to have come from one particular dentist within the practice who my wife works with on a regular basis. This dentist is known throughout the practice as being difficult to work with, in fact none of the other nursing staff want to work with her as a result. My wife has worked at this practice for nearly 8 years and with this dentist for the majority of that time. There have been occasional issues which have been settled without further issue, but this is something else entirely. She has never had a complaint about her work from any other dentist she has ever worked with in 13 years of dentistry.


One thing I missed out is that, in her invitation to the formal meeting, my wife has been advised that the dentist who has made the complaint would be in attendance as an impartial note-taker and observer - surely that's not right/ethical either?

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As to the original query; you have a right to assume what you like, that's up to you. Remember however that at formal meetings or hearings decorum is the order of the day, moderation in all things especially in the language you use..

At the risk of being shot down in flames I would say that;

(a) I assumed that the position was that an employee facing a disciplinary hearing can take along a representative or witness of their choice. If your wife turns up with a rep of her choice the ball would be in their court, they would have to make the decision whether to proceed or cancel. All your wife could be accused of is asserting a statutory right. The manager can also take in whoever she wants to take the notes, this could be beneficial to your wife and her colleage who could then concentrate on what was being said rather than writing stuff all through the meeting.

(b) The whole point of the hearing is to establish the veracity of the charges. your wife could put her case and answer any charge made. She would be entitled to a transcript of the proceedings the veracity of which the person she took with her could then confirm.

If the matter was not amicably resolved at this meeting I presume that in those organisations it is still the case that she would have the right to appeal the decision.

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I would go through the disciplinary as planned, The note taker is there to take notes and can be challenged if they say anything other than "can you repeat that" and "How do you spell that?"


If she has specifics of victimisation and maybe a little evidence I would submit a seperate grievance. Best not to confuse the two procedures.

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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What do you mean by that she screwed up her staffing? You need to understand that if the company wants to get rid of you, it will stop at nothing in getting rid of you. If they are looking to downsize, then this might be a way to get rid of staff without paying redundancy.


It would seem they are trying to pin whatever cr*p there is on her. Make sure she takes a witness, gets them to take proper notes, have them written up within 24 hours and then issued to all parties.


Request and review the company's disciplinary policy to make sure they adhere to it. Also take a peek at the redundancy policy.


Ask them to change the note taker on the grounds that they are the complainant and that the process may be biased. If she ends up being the note taker in the meeting and openly refutes any thing your wife states, kindly rebuke her stating that she should not be speaking on behalf of the disciplinary investigator.


Presuming that the preliminary meeting was the investigatory meeting conducted by the same person who will be conducting disciplinary, request that person be replaced by another suitable person on the grounds that the outcome may be biased.

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