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Suspended on allegation of gross misconduct, potential tribunal


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I work for a company that provides civil enforcement to local authorities (parking wardens).

 

Last week I was suspended pending an investigation into an allegation of gross misconduct on my behalf,

I have yet to hear the outcome or any further action but am obviously concerned that I may lose my job and I'm looking for some advice should that happen.

 

The situation is:

 

I drive to work and I often park in bays which cannot be enforced due to problems with bay markings or signage

- so I'm parking without paying because I know I can't be given a parking fine.

 

I'm a supervisor and the wardens that work for me have, on 4 separate occasions since last October, given my car a parking fine

when I've been parked in one of these unenforceable bays, essentially making an error on their part.

 

On one of these occasions I appealed against the ticket through the normal process and finally heard back after 4 months to confirm it would be cancelled.

 

On two other occasions I was informed by one warden that another warden had given a fine to my car

I advised them to remove the ticket and cancel it, as it was invalid.

 

On the final occasion I discovered a ticket on my car at the end of my day

the following morning I spoke to the warden that had issued it and arranged for it to be cancelled also.

 

The allegation is that I have cancelled these fines to avoid paying them, which is untrue as they were all unenforceable bays

and they would have been cancelled on appeal, but as I mentioned it takes 4 months to get an answer on an appeal.

 

Aside from the time period involved,

we as a company are penalised if we issue too many invalid tickets and can incur a financial penalty from the council if we don't meet our KPI in this area.

This is the reason why I arranged for them to be cancelled.

 

They are saying that my actions could bring the company into disrepute and although I don't believe I've done anything wrong

I am concerned that they may still decide to dismiss me and

 

I wondered if anyone might be able to advise me if I would have grounds to go to an employment tribunal or how I should go about it?

 

Many thanks in advance for any advice.

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Surely as a supervisor you should give the good example, but no, you kept on parking where you shouldn't have, exploiting a loophole.

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Yes I was exploiting a loophole, as do a number of others in my office. Do you think that should cost me my job? There are also members of the public who are clued up on the regulations in this respect and use it to park for free, it's not as if I was using secret insider information to identify places to park.

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it's not as if I was using secret insider information to identify places to park.

 

If it isn't secret where is the list of spaces published then?

 

I'd say you were exploiting your position and should have gone through the 4 month appeal process like a normal member of the public. Anything else is abuse of position. I see no ET grounds here so far.

 

How are they doing in sticking to the disciplinary process?

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You can tell if a space is enforceable or not by looking at it, if it has lines and a sign then it is, if it does not then it is not.

 

So far there has been no disciplinary, I'm still on suspension and am expecting to hear tomorrow how they intend to proceed.

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How are you planning to handle your investigatory meeting?

 

Is there a policy on how employee tickets should be handled?

 

Is there a policy on when tickets can be waived?

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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It's not really the point as to whether they are enforceable parking bays or not. The issue is you abusing your position to order your staff to tear up the tickets. Presumably there is a correct procedure for this? If so, you might be in trouble. If not, then you have nothing to worry about.

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It is standard procedure that if a ticket is issued in error then we try to retrieve it and cancel it, as I said we do this every day as people inevitably make mistakes. There isn't a particular procedure relating to employees receiving tickets.

 

An investigatory meeting was held earlier in the week, I was entirely honest and explained the circumstances that occurred on each occasion.

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If the allegation is that you are potentially brining the company into disrepute then so far as you have said here, I can easily understand such an allegation.

 

The answers to several of the questions above are crucial in terms of how you are able to defend this. If there are such things as unenforceable parking bays, then is this information published anywhere? Is there signage which would inform the average motorist that parking in those bays is unregulated due to the faults that you have mentioned? Most importantly, IF a PCN was issued to an average motorist, whether in error or not, and the motorist paid the charge, would it be automatically refunded? Would enforcement proceed automatically if payment was not forthcoming? Is it published within your organisation that NO tickets are to be issued on any vehicle parked in these bays?

 

You say that the faults are there for people to see if they look, but would the average motorist know what to look for?

 

In amongst those questions almost certainly lies the matter which is at the heart of your case, as I suspect that not many people know of the unenforceability of the parking bays, and it is being alleged that because you KNOW that a charge could not be enforced is affording you a privilege that would not be automatically available to the average motorist, and therefore you have potentially abused your position. As agents for a local authority, were such information to become available to a wider audience - and especially the local press - this could potentially make the LA look very silly, and your employer potentially in jeopardy of losing their contract. It may seem far fetched, but that is the reality, and with a topic such as parking charges and enforcement of PCNs, it could become very embarrassing as the inevitable spin in the story would be that wardens are exempt from PCNs and if they are issued they are just cancelled - a very emotive story for a newspaper to play around with!

 

So - in order to defeat the allegation, you need to establish that the privilege of 'free' parking was readily available to everybody, not just you and your colleagues, that there is a clear policy on tickets issued to staff and when/how they may be cancelled. The 'we all do it' argument will, I think, not carry much weight, nor will the 'everybody does it so why am I the only one being punished' line.

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On the surface it is a clear abuse of position as you told people to cancel the tickets. Even if the appeal process takes 4 months why would that disadvantage you?

 

As I said, it is only how it appears on the surface

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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It seems clear to me that not many people know of the existence of these unenforceable bays, otherwise the OP's colleagues wouldn't be issuing tickets to cars parked in them.

 

I recall that there was a case a few years ago involving some of the staff employed by a private parking contractor, who were destroying tickets issued to their own cars. That cost a few jobs and the company's ocntract was threatened.

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I personally would go down the route of saying "Very sorry, I didn't realise this was such a serious matter, it won't happen again".

 

I think this is misconduct. It sounds like this is more about the fact you were parking in bays you know that you are not allowed to use rather than about the KPI. I could see a tabloid newspaper publishing a story along the lines of "Traffic Warden parks in restricted bays, gets all tickets cancelled". Hopefully this will get dealt with by a warning especially if you have never been formally warned about it before.

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I personally would go down the route of saying "Very sorry, I didn't realise this was such a serious matter, it won't happen again".

 

This is very much the case and I hope that it's the route they choose to take, I've never had any disciplinary issues before in the 5 years I've been with the company and I work hard.

 

To answer a couple of the points from other posts: the colleagues that issued the PCNs to my car were either inexperienced or not exactly part of the A team. Generally when unenforceable areas are identified everyone is made aware but memories are short for some people and there are so many problems around the city we simply can't brief them all on a daily basis, and if we did I can guarantee people would stop listening after a couple of minutes.

 

Thanks for the advice and criticism - I know parking is an emotive issue and I hope that people aren't simply thinking 'Traffic warden might lose his job - GOOD'. I have a family to support and this is a cause of great concern to me.

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I work for a company that provides civil enforcement to local authorities (parking wardens).

 

Last week I was suspended pending an investigation into an allegation of gross misconduct on my behalf,

I have yet to hear the outcome or any further action but am obviously concerned that I may lose my job and I'm looking for some advice should that happen.

 

The situation is:

 

I drive to work and I often park in bays which cannot be enforced due to problems with bay markings or signage

- so I'm parking without paying because I know I can't be given a parking fine.

 

I'm a supervisor and the wardens that work for me have, on 4 separate occasions since last October, given my car a parking fine

when I've been parked in one of these unenforceable bays, essentially making an error on their part.

 

On one of these occasions I appealed against the ticket through the normal process and finally heard back after 4 months to confirm it would be cancelled.

 

On two other occasions I was informed by one warden that another warden had given a fine to my car

I advised them to remove the ticket and cancel it, as it was invalid.

 

On the final occasion I discovered a ticket on my car at the end of my day

the following morning I spoke to the warden that had issued it and arranged for it to be cancelled also.

 

The allegation is that I have cancelled these fines to avoid paying them, which is untrue as they were all unenforceable bays

and they would have been cancelled on appeal, but as I mentioned it takes 4 months to get an answer on an appeal.

 

Aside from the time period involved,

we as a company are penalised if we issue too many invalid tickets and can incur a financial penalty from the council if we don't meet our KPI in this area.

This is the reason why I arranged for them to be cancelled.

 

They are saying that my actions could bring the company into disrepute and although I don't believe I've done anything wrong

I am concerned that they may still decide to dismiss me and

 

I wondered if anyone might be able to advise me if I would have grounds to go to an employment tribunal or how I should go about it?

 

Many thanks in advance for any advice.

 

Wow, Are you for real!!

Us 'normal' folk have these 'parking wardens' slap tickets on our cars that are unjustifiable, yet you want special treatment because you think you are above the law !!!

How dare you think you should have special treatment. Because you have found a loophole that gets you off paying a parking fine that makes it OK does it?

Tell us all the places where we can park in unenforceable bays then we can then tell the wardens to cancel the ticket.

This is a prime example of them and us. I can not see for one minute if I were to park in the same 'unenforceable bay' that you did, and a traffice warden slapped a ticket on my car, they would then cancel it when I told them they were wrong. That is rubbish and you know it.

Have a look at all the people on the other part of this site that are being ripped of by 'parking attendents' who slap PCN's on their cars that are not enforceable, but they have to fight tooth and nail to get justice. They havent got the privilage like you of their 'staff' to cancel the ticket for them.

If you lose your job then so be it, you flouted the law, you have asked staff to do something that is underhand and you even have the front to think you can go to a tribunal. Unbelieveable !!

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Wow, Are you for real!!

Us 'normal' folk have these 'parking wardens' slap tickets on our cars that are unjustifiable, yet you want special treatment because you think you are above the law !!!

How dare you think you should have special treatment. Because you have found a loophole that gets you off paying a parking fine that makes it OK does it?

Tell us all the places where we can park in unenforceable bays then we can then tell the wardens to cancel the ticket.

This is a prime example of them and us. I can not see for one minute if I were to park in the same 'unenforceable bay' that you did, and a traffice warden slapped a ticket on my car, they would then cancel it when I told them they were wrong. That is rubbish and you know it.

Have a look at all the people on the other part of this site that are being ripped of by 'parking attendents' who slap PCN's on their cars that are not enforceable, but they have to fight tooth and nail to get justice. They havent got the privilage like you of their 'staff' to cancel the ticket for them.

If you lose your job then so be it, you flouted the law, you have asked staff to do something that is underhand and you even have the front to think you can go to a tribunal. Unbelieveable !!

 

I think you need to think about this not as Traffic Wardens but someone who may lose their job. My view is that it may be abuse of position and/or bringing the company into disrepute . We all know there are areas where parking enforcement is not allowed. (For example in a controlled parking zone there has to be a notice at every entrance to the area ) . When I was a rep the traffic wardens had even told one retailer that they could not enforce the parking just outside their shop.

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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I can not see for one minute if I were to park in the same 'unenforceable bay' that you did, and a traffice warden slapped a ticket on my car, they would then cancel it when I told them they were wrong.

 

Actually, that's kind of the point of what I'm saying - if you could show that a bay was unenforceable then you wouldn't have to pay the ticket, it doesn't matter if you work for them or not.

 

But thanks for just coming right out and saying what I'd said in a previous post - you don't like traffic wardens so you're happy that one may be losing his job. What a fine human being you are.

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Let's keep it civil on both sides please.

 

To the OP - you are certainly correct that the words Traffic Warden were always going to stir up a certain amount of reaction based purely on that fact, but also the circumstances of your problem would, I have to say, cause a degree of robust comment regardless. Any perceived abuse of position will always invite comment both constructive and cutting in equal measure. Consider a parallel situation in another industry - say a shop manager who was being disciplined for marking down stock for himself but not offering the same consideration to customers. I have no doubt that any criticism offered would be of a similar nature.

 

You certainly need to understand (if you weren't aware already) that your situation is potentially quite serious. You could lose your job, and I do not believe that any mitigation along the lines of 'everybody does it' will go too far to get you off the hook. Your best course of action is almost certainly to say that you genuinely didn't consider this to be a problem, however with hindsight you can fully appreciate that this could easily be construed as a serious matter which could potentially be damaging to the business. This was never your intention, and if the company sees fit you are willing to accept retraining as necessary and offer the promise that this would not be repeated. You ask that the company considers your previous good service and ask that whilst you expect some form of sanction that this should not be considered a matter for dismissal.

 

To those who are commenting on the OP's situation, can we bear in mind that generally, we do not go overboard on judging the person and that we are here to offer help in dealing with a situation - irrespective of their particular line of work!

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

 

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