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Dismissed, ACAS certificate issue, union refusing to help - advice please


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HI,

 

I wish I had found this site about 6 moths ago. Here goes - I will try to make it as short as possible.

 

My OH has ( had!) over 30 unblemished years service with a local authority as a craft tradesman. Approximately 18 months the management ( 3rd party run local authority services) made veiled comments about losing staff, but also had their favourites they wanted to keep. However all staff would have to go through competitive interviews, sickness records etc and their favourites would not make it. So they had a problem. There has been a succession of brought in line managers do not have the necessary qualifications, experience to run / understand the department. Staff of 8 in department.

 

All work vans are fitted with a GPS tracker system

 

About 8 months ago, 2 employees found using a GPS jammer device, suspended on spot, subsequently investigated and dismissed without paid notice.

 

Couple of weeks after jammer discovered all 6 other employees received a letter asking them to attend an interview re: "an incident" that had occurred in dept. Obviously all took this to be about the GPS jammer. However when OH goes in for interview, by investigating manager ( who doesn't understand OH job/role) and HR he is presented with 4 months worth of his tracker information), and is questioned about his lunch time activities. OH accused of having too long for lunch. Lots of mitigating factors - no computer access at work, planning work, planning reports etc etc. Union were very ineffective in meeting and HR seemed to be more vocal and leading investigation. All 6 employees interviewed - one none driver therefore no tracker info - but regularly seen leaving work 30 -45 mins early by senior management. The remaining 5 were deemed to have been having too long for lunch

 

Couple of weeks later 4 of the 6 suspended - the non driver and a worker who "makes" the management house a lot of money were not suspended. - He was however investigated and given a 2nd written warning - but not charged with falsifying time sheets yet allegedly owed 4 hours.

 

The 4 who were suspended have been through disciplinary hearing and an appeal hearing - both of which did not take mitigating factors into consideration. All were dismissed under gross misconduct with paid notice.

 

ACAS are now issuing certificate as management won't budge , but did acknowledge that the paid notice was due to "managerial shortcomings" and union have refused to support members as they have been charged with 'falsifying time sheets". HR are aware that union are not supporting ( mole?!).

 

My OH has repeatedly asked the union why only 4 of the 8 have been accused of falsifying time sheets when all 8 employees were allegedly taking too long for lunch or leaving work early. The employee leaving early was simply taken in for a quiet chat!!

OH also asked union why in a separate incident ( based on tracker information ) an employee was at home for a full 8 hours during the day - but he wasn't investigated, suspended and only given another final written warning, why is there a lack of parity?

 

The 4 are now meeting with a view to proceed privately to an ET.

Union are supporting the employee who was dismissed for jammer use?

 

Your comments and advice would be gratefully appreciated.

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I'm confued. How does no computer at work relate to tracking van movements at lunchtime? Is there a computer in the van?

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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unfortunately comparing the treatment of one employee to another in this situation isnt relevant despite the obvious unfairness, you have to deal with the facts of the case regarding your OH and whether his treatment was proper and fair.

 

Now, if you believe that there are documents somewhere regarding redundancy (the comments arent proof) then that may well support a claim that they engineered the result of the disciplinary to sack the staff rather than apply the correct course of action for redundancy..

 

 

Unfortunately to force the hand of the employer it will take a court action and the Union should really be dealing witht this.

 

 

I accept that the local branch lay reps arent up to the task so your OH will need to take the matter up with head office to get a regional officer involved and probably the legal team as well. There is some strength to this argument as ACAS arent happy.

 

The you can drag all of the points about foavouritism into the mix as it would be relevant for determining who is redundant.

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Thanks for the replys.

 

It is the regional union rep that has basically told them to bugger off!! We think the union are / were in fact more on the side of the employer than their members. She sent an email saying that she is not prepared to answer any more emails unless new evidence comes to light!

 

Why the union can't or won't answer the question as to why the 7 people investigated all for same allegations yet only 4 were charged with falsifying time sheets , and why the union din't pickup on the anomaly is what is leaving a sour taste at the moment.

 

OH used computer at lunch time, to plan work, check industry sites, produce reports etc. Their manager has no qualifications to be in the role, therefore making OH job harder . So tracker logged that it parked up longer than the allowed lunch time.

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so, can he demonstrate, maybe by times of emails sent, that he was working during these periods?

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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I am afraid that I have to agree that I'm struggling to see this as unfair dismissal. You must ignore what happened in other cases - those details are not relevant, and you cannot compare the circumstances. Each case is individual. So it isn't that the union didn't see that there were differences in the cases - it is that there WERE differences. None of which you know about, and none of which you are allowed to know about because the drafts are confidential.

 

As things stand, there is evidence that the timesheets were falsified in that the van was parked and the occupant not working but on lunch. So that is evidence. An employer does not have to take account of mitigation, so that leaves your OH needing evidence that the allegation was untrue. What evidence does he have to show that he was working during these periods? Foit months is an awful lot of evidence of the employers allegations, and so there must be some evidence of all the things he says he did during these periods.

 

I am also quite confused - if he had no computer at work, then how was he doing these things on a computer? And didn't somebody need to provide a computer at work in order to produce reports etc. That would normally be the case - if someone needs to use a computer, then the employer provides a computer. Why didn't they?

 

I'm sorry but unless you can demonstrate some compelling evidence that was overlooked that shows that he was working, I would have to agree with the union - he had no defence and there is nothing they can do. Unions cannot make a case out of what is not there. And they cannot defend a case based on the outcome of another different case. "He wasn't guilty of xxx, so I am not guilty of xxx" is not a defence.

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The only thing which is relevant here is why the 4 were dismissed.

 

To what extent can the employer prove they were falsifying time sheets? Were they falsifying time sheets?

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