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Hi,

It is a case of possible unfair dismissal. I am suspended but still not dismissed.

 

I work in IT of some charity organisation's operations division. I am suspended from work from yesterday.

Events -

1) Joined office on Monday after holidays. I am on loan from support team to development team. There are some people who don't like me for some personal reasons.

2) I was given a task on Monday at 11am to write a test unit proc (PL Unit) for some code developed by another developer say X.

2a) This is a kind of a mundane task which X had mentioned in past that no one likes to work and he can do coding but can't work on PL Unit. As I see I was only one who was given this task since I joined the team.

3) I started working on it but I was finding it really hard to work on this task. (may be for personal reasons - my daughter had epileptic seizure a week back). I like to work on logical unit and was taking lot of time to work on this particular task. I work in scrum agile environment and in that you work on something which you pull and you estimate. But here I was assigned the task and told to finish by end of day. Around 4pm I emailed to scrum master that I hate writing PL Unit and it will be better if this is being tested functionally instead. I told that I will take 2 days to finish it if they still want it. I got no reply. I stopped working on that.

4) Next day morning in the scrum meeting I mentioned that I tried working on it but couldn't.

5) I mentioned to Scrum master orally that I can't work on that. He said you at least work on part of that. I said I can't. He said he will escalate that to his manager. He immediately emailed me to which I replied that I can't work on it. I am not finding motivation to do it with CC to my support team lead.

6) Then my support manager (line manager) had a meeting with me at around 1pm on Tuesday. After the meeting he told me to go home and come on Wednesday at 11am for a meeting to discuss this.

7) At the end of the meeting on wednesday morning where HR was also present, I was told that I am suspended from work and there will be disciplinary meeting soon.

 

During the meeting with Manager on two occasions

1) He was trying to stress that I am refusing to work but I was stressing that I am not able to focus on that.

2) I was trying to stress principles of Scrum Agile that Scrum master can not assign the tasks and you pull the task which you estimate. He was trying to stress that this was estimated earlier and the team thought that it is a reasonable time for this task.

3) During the meeting I was trying to stress that PL Unit was not written in past for much bigger piece of codes and this is a just one line of code. I got a chance to see in brief the product owner's response on JIRA that this situation is unlikely to happen in production and this story could be closed.

4) At the end of the meeting I told the manager that I am willing to work on this story and he said I am accepting this after 1.5 hours (1 hour actual) and I don't want you grudgingly work on this.

 

My performance in support team had been 2-3 times better than the next best person and even in dev team in last 2 months in dev team I had worked on 2 very complex pieces of code. First one X had tried to work for a week and there were many bugs in it and I have to re-write it.

 

Scrum master has a grudge on me because I had in past done firing of his inefficient close friend in support. Some other managers in dev team have grudge on me because in past when I applied for dev team role I was rejected and sub-standard people were given those role. I had mentioned my arguments against the selection process.

 

My support manager has recently joined the team and he kinds of thinks that I have an attitude. He accepts my stellar performance. The culture in company is not open and performance oriented. They strangely prefer contractors from agencies or vendors paying more than double.

Edited by unfairdismissal2

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At this point in time you are on suspension (which is seen as a neutral act - unless unpaid) and have not been dismissed. As this has all happened in just 2-3 days I don't think you could claim unreasonable time frames for investigation and conclusion of the process.

 

How long have you worked for this company in total?

In what capacity are you working there - employee or contractor?

What resolution are you hoping for out of this process?

 

All the above questions will help others more knowledgeable than I go assisting you.

 

Feebee_71

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I joined in Dec 2011 as a developer in permanent position. worked for 15 months till now. It will be difficult to work again with this company. I am seeking some compensation and move on.

I had applied earlier for annual leaves next week. So disciplinary hearing would happen in first week of april.

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I think the problemb is your first email as above did not say you were not capable. It said you didn't like it. That would indeed be grounds for a disciplinary. What's your actual competence level? Have you done this kind of work before?


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I can do it..it is just that I couldn't focus on it at that particular day. I also offered to work on it but said it will take little bit more. whatever may be the reasons there was no effort done to find the solution on it and no time was given. all this happened between 11am on Monday and 1pm on Tuesday. that is too short time to decide

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You are giving me the impression you don't like being managed. I would work on a more friendly approach for your hearing. I am afraid that is my best advice as I do believe you are in the wrong. Can you be less confrontational? Agile doesn't really work with confrontational people....


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It wasn't an issue for last 1.5 months I worked in this team. I had no issues when I worked on good stories. It was just an issue with this particular task. But such a small issue can't be a reason for dismissal. I verbally told scrum master in a very gentle manner that I am finding it hard to work on this task.

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Yes it can; he's the boss; six weeks is no time at.all.

 

Afraid I'm going for sincere apology. Agile looks like a democracy but it isn't. He's the boss. You refused to carry out a reasonable request and it took an hour of argung the toss to make you do it. Accept you are wrong, apologise and promise t do better next time. If stress makes you unable to work get signed off.


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I'm with Emmzzi on this. You are obliged to follow the reasonable directions of management. Working on stuff you don't like is part of working life - you are being paid to work, not to enjoy yourself. You cannot simply say you only want to work with one piece of code but not another piece of code, when you are capable of working on both.

 

Similarly, if you are instructed to do something by the end of the day that is what you need to do. If it is impossible to meet the time scale then you explain this to the manager, do as much as you can that day, and finish the task as soon as possible the next day. You cannot simply stop work and decide to give yourself an extra 2 days.

 

I think the disciplinary is justified. Your attempts to justify yourself by accusing the manager of holding a "grudge" are not going to work. You need to be careful - you could be the best coder in history but if managers find you difficult to work with they will want to get rid of you. My suggestion would be to go into the disciplinary with a positive attitude and apologise. If there are problems with the working environment and you think adjustments should be made then you can ask for this.


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I see faults on both sides here, I think you should have explained to your line manager exactly why you didn't want to do the particular job - I think not being focussed or mentally attuned is not a sufficient reason. That said, your managers have demonstrated poor leadership and influencing skills, one manager has hid behind his email while the other has gone running to HR and set up an investigation. This is something which would have been better resolved with a full and frank discussion between you and your managers. At the end of the day, you do have to follow a reasonable instruction, but they should take on board any concerns you may have and it would probably have been possible to reach a consensus without over-escalating matters. At the end of the day, you've agreed to do what they asked, they're now complaining because it took an hour to agree, yet have kicked off an investigation which will take several more hours, if not days, and have suspended you, costing the company money and meaning that you'll now be getting paid for not doing what they asked and someone else will have to do it.

 

When you were suspended were you notified that you were being investigated for gross misconduct and/or that dismissal might result? What happened at the meeting on the Tuesday with the line manager - was it a heated meeting?

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It wasn't a heated conversation. There were arguments. I was trying to explain that this task is not required and even product owner says that the story can be closed as it is unlikely to happen in production. Also in past we had not written PL Unit for 100 times bigger piece of codes. There was only one line of change which was very simple. I was the only one who was asked to write PL Units since I came to this team. Scrum master is not manager, he is just a developer.

 

I have got a letter today from HR that i am suspended for my recently highlighted conduct. There are no detailed reasons mentioned for suspension. HR orally mentioned that I might get reinstated or dismissed after disciplinary meeting.

 

There was nothing reasonable in the task - someone else estimated the task which they themselves avoid to do. Scrum master's point was that we will get PO's sign of based on PL Unit and not on functional testing.

 

Is it a crime to not able to complete the task within given time?

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I will be in a really bad condition both ways..It is hard to apologise for me and it will be harder to work with same people again. Do you think any chances of getting unfair dismissal award here?

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But you are not a manager. It is not your decision whether a task is required. Similarly it is not your decision whether the task should instead be given to one of your colleagues. It is legitimate for you to disagree with your manager and you can politely point out the reasons why you disagree, but at the end of the day it is your manager's call and you should not waste everybody's time by arguing about it at length. Noone will ever agree with their manager about everything but you do have to follow their instructions. If you get promoted to management that is when you can decide whether or not a task is required.

 

Some things are part of working life. We all have off-days where we can't focus and we all sometimes fail to complete a task in time. That is fine, but what is unacceptable is to not even try. You told us that you stopped work on the task and gave yourself an extra 2 days without permission. I think you should have accepted what you were being asked to do - even if you thought it was unnecessary - and got on with it. I am sure management would much rather work with an inferior coder who follows instructions and gets on with the jobs they are asked to do, even if their skills are pretty poor, so I would not be surprised if they are looking for reasons to dismiss you. Where you go from here is up to you - just be very careful about how you approach the disciplinary if you do not want to end up getting dismissed.

 

I do not think there is much chance of an unfair dismissal award here. There is no question that you are guilty of misconduct and it doesn't look like you are prepared to change your attitude. The most you would get is notice pay. My honest advice would be to suck up your pride and apologise. Sometimes we all have to work with people that we disagree with or don't particularly like. Sucking it up and getting on with your work is a much better approach than creating drama.

Edited by steampowered
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I think you are going to have a very bitter and argumenet filled work life unless you learn to apologise and dial down the arrogance. You might as well start practising now!


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I am discussing matter with a solicitor..he said he can send a 'without prejudice' letter to my employer. Not sure what it is. Will charge £200+vat.

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That is a COMPLETE waste of your money.


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Forget the solicitor for the moment, the last post is correct! They haven't even taken disciplinary action yet!

 

This is a situation which has become over-escalated and needs someone neutral with common sense to come in and calm things down. This is where HR can, or should, come in. While you are in the wrong to refuse to do job because you're not in the right frame of mind to do it, if the job doesn't in your opinion need done or there is someone who could better do it, you have the right to say so, indeed the responsibility. At the end of the day, if the manager instructs you to do it, then you do have to follow reasonable instructions. But the manager should have adequate people management skills to influence staff, that might mean walking away from a disagreement for a while or making it clear to you that you're expected to follow his instructions and then allowing some time to pass before mentioning the subject again. Ultimately, you agreed to do what was asked of you, so the investigation seems to me unecessary, and the suspension plain OTT.

 

The manager has gone to HR without telling you, HR have then sat in on the meeting between you and the manager. This is unfair, HR should have spoken to you informally to hear your version of events and to confirm that you were refusing to do the task. They would then have been in a position to decide whether an investigation was necessary, or whether the matter was best dealt with informally within your team. I've seen this a lot, managers who aren't comfortable with authority only know how to manage with a 'do as I say or else...' approach and then go running to HR when this doesn't work. Hopefully in this case HR won't just blindly take the side of management, but will look at how things could have been done better on both sides.

 

IT people I've worked with are fairly mercurial, its quite a creative occupation, and if the manager adopts the approach of a Victorian mill owner they're unlikely to get results.

 

Don't go looking for unfair dismissal at the moment, take a step back and consider what you want. Do you in all honesty feel that you couldn't work in the team again if the investigation led to an improvement? Would a move back to the team you were seconded from be an option?

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A solicitor will send any letter you like , your employer will ignore it then what? you spend a load of money persuing a non existant claim? I suggest that you go to the meeting apologise and hope to keep your job, all i can see from you at the moment is a person who didnt like a job he was given to do so made a fuss but ended up agreeing to do it anyway, cant see that you have any grounds for claiming unfair dismissal

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It can't be unfair dismissal yet, as the OP has not been dismissed. If the employer goes ahead and dismisses based only on what has happened so far, it could be unfair dismissal.

 

I personally wouldn't apologise, as management and HR have handled things badly too. Perhaps if everyone came to some sort of agreement that mistakes were made all round and some thought was put into improving the working relationship going forward, then an apology might be more likely. But if I was in the OP's shoes I would feel that to apologise now would be to be bullied into doing so by management trying to get HR onside.

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Thanks altobelli. First first to agree that there are chances of unfair dismissal. There wasn't any issue with work for 1.5 months I worked in new team. It just this particular task. What to do if you can't work on something and you say that and someone still insists on me completing it. If I apologise and go back to work I will be subject to lot of orders and snares and giggles. It hard.

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you keep saying 1.5 months like it's an eternity. It's barely long enough to learn how you like your tea!


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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Thanks altobelli. First first to agree that there are chances of unfair dismissal. There wasn't any issue with work for 1.5 months I worked in new team. It just this particular task. What to do if you can't work on something and you say that and someone still insists on me completing it. If I apologise and go back to work I will be subject to lot of orders and snares and giggles. It hard.

 

I think what you can maybe learn from this is how to express better where there is a task which you're unhappy with or think could be done better or not at all. Definitely make your point, but once that is done, its the manager's call, as they will have to shoulder responsibility should it be a bad call, or should do at least. If you refuse to do something, you're putting the manager into a difficult position. That said, he hasn't handled it well and by approaching it head on has put your back against the wall. The situation has developed into a stand-off and now nobody wants to back down. If it continues like this, it could well end up a dismissal siutation and possible legal case.

 

It might be an idea to write to either one of the managers or HR, requesting that the matter be resolved on an informal basis (although the investigation has started there is nothing to prevent the process resorting back to an informal one) as you feel this would be the best way to resolve the matter. Stress that while you objected to the task for the reasons given, you would have been prepared to do it, and that you raised issues in good faith. This is a situation where mediation and dialogue might achieve a lot more than suspension and dismissals.

Edited by honeybee13

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Thanks altobelli. First first to agree that there are chances of unfair dismissal. There wasn't any issue with work for 1.5 months I worked in new team. It just this particular task. What to do if you can't work on something and you say that and someone still insists on me completing it. If I apologise and go back to work I will be subject to lot of orders and snares and giggles. It hard.

 

Hello there.

 

You've said you find it hard to apologise, but sometimes in this life we have to, in order to keep the peace.

 

Which would you say was more important to you, maintaining your pride or keeping this job, would you say?

 

My best, HB

Edited by honeybee13

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Hi Honeybee, I can see where you're coming from but I'm wary of whether people should apologise when they don't feel they're wholly in the wrong.

 

I think the OP feels that if he were to apologise he may be viewed negatively by colleagues, and this may well be the case. Additionally, were he to apologise, the approach taken by management and HR (he has basically been 'mobbed' and the situation greatly over-escalated) will go unchecked and the manager may be tempted to treat him unfavourably, allocating him the most tedious and undesirable tasks in the knowledge that he will do as asked unquestioningly.

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It just this particular task. What to do if you can't work on something and you say that and someone still insists on me completing it. If I apologise and go back to work I will be subject to lot of orders and snares and giggles. It hard.

 

It sucks and it can be hard, but unfortunately you just have to suck it up and do the task. I can think of countless times where I disagreed with my manager's approach to something. I politely point this out, sometimes he listens sometimes he does not, and 90% of the time I turn out to be right. But at the end of the day it is his decision so I just get on and do the task. Management get to decide what work needs to be done, not junior employees. It is best just to get on with it, apologise and complete the task so that everyone can move on from this. If you don't make the effort to build a positive relationship with your manager you will remain unhappy at work.

 

I do not think you should worry about how this an apology perceived. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has bad days and everyone does things wrong sometimes. That is just part of life. You have only been there a month so it is normal to feel uncomfortable. It is very normal to apologise when you do something wrong, even if the other person is also to blame. I doubt the other employees would know or care that you apologised to your manager. Causing an issue over completing one task is more likely to make you look silly than a simple apology ever could!

Edited by honeybee13

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