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Hi, new to the forums but lurked for a long time over the years!

 

I will try to keep it brief and as unidentifiable as possible. I raised an informal grievance against my boss. It was completely ignored by both him and his boss. Three weeks later I asked what was happening and was told nothing. Make it formal if you have a problem.

 

I made it formal (and included the way they “dealt” with the informal side of things) and then almost immediately received a without prejudice offer to settle and go. I have been in my job for almost 20 years with no issues at all. The offer was stupidly low. I responded with an equally high offer which was rejected. I was shocked as no one had sat and had so much as a conversation with me about what was in the informal grievance.

 

The boss has behaved as if the employment relationship is over. My staff have been called to the office to be asked how they will cope on their own and offered support, I have been told not to attend the office whilst off sick (I was signed off for the first time in my life, just after I handed in the formal grievance) and very junior members of staff have been told not to let me in the building as I have raised a grievance and they don’t want me there! They told me I was not to attend the Christmas party as we were in negotiations, and then as soon as it was over, first thing Monday morning they withdrew from negotiations. Not a big deal in the scheme of things but I think it shows the intentions behind the negotiations were not genuine.

 

So, obviously now the employment relationship is over, but not by my choice. I think from googling that perhaps by sending me a WP offer before even discussing the grievance and how I would want it resolving, that WP wouldn't be applicable and that he effectively ended the employment. I made it very clear that I would be willing to attend mediation. So even though I responded, because there was no dispute at the time, without prejudice doesn't apply.

 

There is loads of background stuff as well but the two main points not above are; another director offered mediation which I accepted, then when he also heard nothing for weeks he chased it via email and HR said that I had refused to attend any mediation. I have the taped conversation that proves I accepted the offer, and the informal grievance also clearly states that I believe mediation to be the way forward. So HR is also compromised, as is the procedure.

The director I complained about has laughed in my face previously about how no other director would ever go against him in any grievance or disciplinary. He pulls the strings, blah blah blah. He has then appointed his best friend to chair the hearing. I have objected in writing stating why and offering several other very suitable alternatives but he refuses to have anyone but his friend deal with it.

So if you have got this far thank you! Any advice about how to proceed would be gratefully received. I have a few days holiday owing from last year which I have insisted on taking so that I can see a solicitor so I have a small window to decide what to do. After everything they have done I have my head around never going back there again. The thought of having to go in and be normal around everyone knowing that the boss wants me out makes me feel sick.

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It sounds like you are dealing with this well. It is best to try and be mature about this, and try to set up some sort of face to face meeting to see if it is possible to return to work.

 

If you are not allowed to return to the building, then you need to make sure that your unfair dismissal claim is lodged with the Employment Tribunal no later than three months minus one day from the date on which you could be considered dismissed (possibly the date on which you were first denied access to the building). Given that you have 20 years' service an unfair dismissal award would be substantial so any WP offer should be a fairly high amount.

 

Contrary to the suggestion in your post, without prejudice does apply here. It applies whenever a dispute is reasonably in prospect, it is not necessary that an actual dispute has arisen. It doesn't really have much significance though it just means you cannot use the offer as evidence of guilt in Employment Tribunal proceedings.

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What did the wp letter say? Sounds like your employer knows they are in the wrong but are trying to push it aside.

 

Are you in a union so you can access their employment lawyers?

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Not in union unfortunately.:-( The WP just went straight into an offer (1 month notice and statutory redundancy- after 20 years!)

 

i don't understand why they have pushed for me to go formal, only to go WP, then withdraw and insist on the process, flaws and all. Part of the original grievance was that during an appraisal where he behaved appallingly and abused his position, he finished the conversation by telling me I had outgrown the firm and should look elsewhere if I wanted a career not a job. To me that is the point where the trust and confidence was broken, and the the WP letter just confirmed it. BTW for all the abuse in the actual appraisal the paperwork said nothing of it! The paperwork stated that the boss had no issues with any aspect of my work and he signed it. I would have attended mediation, but now when they ask what do I want to be the outcome what do I say! Previously it would have been mediation, after all of this the answer would be a mutually agreed exit package. But can I say that without making myself as bad as them...

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It is clearly not redundancy but many companies try and claim that it is by saying that there was a reorganisation on exactly the same day as you made your formal complaint. All this will come out in the wash but it tales time and patience. They are wrong if they think that a WP letter cannot be used as evidence, it merely limts how you can act upon its contents.

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It is clearly not redundancy but many companies try and claim that it is by saying that there was a reorganisation on exactly the same day as you made your formal complaint. All this will come out in the wash but it tales time and patience. They are wrong if they think that a WP letter cannot be used as evidence, it merely limts how you can act upon its contents.

 

Thanks for all the replies, appreciate the help sp much. I can handle the process and all that goes with it, but there is no denying it is all consuming! I see a solicitor tomorrow with all paperwork so I should have more idea on how I will progress this.

 

It is very interesting ericsbrother about limiting how I can act upon the content. Does that mean I can cite the fact that they started wp negotiations as a breach of trust and confidence but not reveal the terms within them?

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Thanks for all the replies, appreciate the help sp much. I can handle the process and all that goes with it, but there is no denying it is all consuming! I see a solicitor tomorrow with all paperwork so I should have more idea on how I will progress this.

 

It is very interesting ericsbrother about limiting how I can act upon the content. Does that mean I can cite the fact that they started wp negotiations as a breach of trust and confidence but not reveal the terms within them?

 

You shouldn't reveal anything at all if it genuinely attracts the without prejudice privilege, and it sounds to me as though it does.

 

Employers can also now have "protected conversations" which they could also argue occurred, so it will be difficult for you to use settlement discussions at all. You're better off focussing on asking for your grievance to be dealt with formally, and if they refuse, citing that as the breach of trust and confidence.

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Hi again all!

 

I saw a solicitor yesterday who read through everything, even all the really petty stuff. Will have cost a pretty penny but was worth every one of them! He said I do have a strong case as it stands, and the figures that he quoted to me were about 4 x my final offer that they turned down (not including the 25% uplift for not following procedures). So glad they did.

Because it would be a potentially drawn out hearing if it gets that far, it would cost in the region of £7k to be represented start to finish. I went to bed thinking i would have to self rep, which I could do and am capable of but i would rather not. Then i decided to just double check my house insurance and it turns out we do have legal cover up to £50k!! I am over the moon.

I had checked it and saw that we had not paid for legal cover, but when I looked again the policy says we have it. Confused I spoke to insurers who confirmed we received it as complimentary for new customers! I have a feeling this will drag on and on, but I feel so much more confident now.

 

My first hearing is next week and I will be alone but if I can manage not to break down then I will be happy.

 

One last question re the WP. The HR dept has referred to the negotiations in open correspondence whilst pitifully defending themselves against something not covered within the settlement discussions but relevant to the grievance. Does this mean now they have bought it out into the open that I can?

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It really depends on the content!

 

Something doesn't need to be expressly labelled "without prejudice" to attract the without prejudice privilege. They could still refuse to disclose the correspondence to the Tribunal.

 

That said, there's no harm in writing back on an open basis if you don't mind the discussions being revealed...

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I don't mean so much at the tribunal if it gets that far, I am more thinking about the grievance hearing. The fact that negotiations took place at all forms part of my grievance, so i need to be able to mention it to the the directors. Can I mention it to them?

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