Is this a duty of care failure? + Leaving a company during grievance process

Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by Jay18, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Jay18

    Jay18 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    4 0
    Hi,

    I'm looking to get some advice as my situation is a little complex but I'll try and keep it simple. Some context, I was a team leader at a call centre for a fixed 12 months. The company was very relaxed in it's approach to culture so much so that the handbook was almost totally ignored. Being of the more serious professional type this caused some issues. Timeline of which is below.

    1: agent in my team questioned by me about his conduct during a call. Hostile reaction, disciplined with 1st written warning (verbal already in place for absence) and given a behavioural/performance management plan.

    2: Hostility continues, on one shift I have to suspend agent after serious insubordination and unprofessional conduct defined as gross misconduct in the handbook. Report the issue to HR with notes. Return to work after days off, a senior manager had reversed the suspension and HR advised me suspension is only used when someone feels threatened, this was not written anywhere or told to me before.

    3: As a result I flag the stress and feeling of threat regarding the agent, advise a manager + HR I don't feel supported informally. A meeting is held with notes taken, I'm given the impression something will be done and the agent is moved teams. Assuming a disciplinary action was in process I saw to agent around the workplace, many weeks pass and they don't follow up with me. After asking I'm told nothing is in process the agent was simply moved and the new Team Leader given no context I found out later. Meaning the agent took no disadvantage from his actions or failing his behavioural performance plan. And in fact gained advantage.

    4: I raise a grievance about the above.

    5: I challenge an agent for using his phone while at his desk for a prolonged period, politely asking him to avoid doing that. He later tells me to "watch my cocky attitude", then "you heard me" in a raised voice. No plans were made to discipline the agent so I rolled into my grievance.

    6: my manager marks me down for the quarter reducing my bonus using the reasoning that issues were frequently escalating between me and agents. This is the latest in his unsupportive actions. So I request we no longer have 1:1 meetings and a change of manager as his approach was distressing me.

    7: My grievance is not upheld and I appeal.

    8: Before the appeal is complete I'm told my contract will not be renewed as I'm not fitting in to company culture. I ask for further details and I'm given critiques of my personality and that there are issues within my team that were raised. They refused to share details. I got a little frustrated but nothing major and left the meeting. Next time I come in a manager is waiting for me, he puts me on gardening leave escorts me off site not allowing me to say goodbye to my team or my peers.

    Side notes:
    - I was never disciplined or put on a improvement plan.
    - My team was one of the 2 best performing on our shift pattern.
    -And after the agent from point 5 raised his voice at me no one senior expressed any concern for me or advised me on on how to further interact with that agent.

    I have a couple of questions:
    Do these actions constitute a breach of duty of care if I'm affected mentally?

    I no longer have access to my work email or supporting documents of my grievance can I FOIA request them?

    Does the company still have to complete the grievance process now I'm gone?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: Jay18 Member since: Mar 21, 2019
    #1
  2. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    3,163 917
    They might have created a small loophole for you in giving a reason for dismissal - they don’t need to do this in the first 24 months, they can simply ‘let you go’

    It’s probably largely the ‘forum effect’ and you attempting to build your case, but you aren’t conveying yourself as a terribly empathetic or effective manager, particularly in a tough environment like a call centre.

    The reason you were let go is simple - it wasn’t working out with you as a manager.

    Personally I’d forget about blame and grievances and move on. Before doing so I’d think seriously about working environments and cultures. What would best suit you, and how can you adapt to fit into other cultures?
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
    #2
  3. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    12,106 3,126
    IF you have a personal injury claim against your ex employers because you have a recognised illness due to their treatment of you, the lawyers handling your claim will seek discovery of all relevant documents. I assume that you were seeing a doctor during this time when your illness commenced. If you have no contemporary medical history you are unlikely to succeed in a claim.

    The grievance procedure is for employees. You are no longer an employee so no, it will not be completed.

    I strongly suggest that you move on, try nd learn the lessons from this experience and, as soon as you get a new job, join a union.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #3
  4. Jay18

    Jay18 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    4 0

    Thanks that's helpful and pretty clear. But what about if the injury is diagnosed after leaving as a result of the events during the service period? I'd also suggest the actions of this employer were not reasonable and the risk of stress was not reduced or managed despite reporting it. Do you think that a breach of duty of care could be successfully argued?
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: Jay18 Member since: Mar 21, 2019
    #4
  5. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    12,106 3,126
    Possibly, but the only place to argue it is in a claim for compensation for personal injury. If you were not made ill when it was happening it is unlikely that such a claim would succeed.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #5
  6. JeffreyMills

    JeffreyMills UKBF Contributor Free Member

    40 15
    I would be very surprised, as a HR professional, that a team leader had carried out a suspension without firstly consulting a more senior manager or HR.
    Suspension is not necessarily a neutral act - what risk to an investigation, or the business, did the agent pose by being in the workplace? Could they have been put on some non-phone duties for a while? Did you risk assess all of this and note it? Did you type and send a suspension letter, and engage an officer to investigate? If you missed any of these things, you do not know enough about HR to be suspending staff.
    I do think it reads as though you are a maverick as a manager, and going straight to punishment rather than using softer skills to manage. As your manager noted, things are escalating between you and your team, a lot. Time for a long hard think about your management style.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: JeffreyMills Member since: Sep 29, 2018
    #6
  7. JeffreyMills

    JeffreyMills UKBF Contributor Free Member

    40 15
    How did you issue a written warning without holding an investigation or formal hearing? Why are you using still using verbal warnings?
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2019 By: JeffreyMills Member since: Sep 29, 2018
    #7
  8. deaytch

    deaytch UKBF Regular Free Member

    112 17
    Sometimes, you just aren't a right fit for the team. Not everyone works like you do. Like others say, you do seem a little bit of a maverick here.
     
    Posted: Mar 22, 2019 By: deaytch Member since: May 15, 2018
    #8
  9. Jay18

    Jay18 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    4 0
    Thanks Chodge that helped.
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: Jay18 Member since: Mar 21, 2019
    #9
  10. Jay18

    Jay18 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    4 0
    Well these are interesting points but the suspension took place on weekend where there was no HR support and no senior manager was on site. I also had zero HR training while on-boarding.

    On that occasion the agent was so hostile it made supervising him impossible and giving him non-phone duties is basically a reward which sets a bad precedent. In my opinion he wasn't fit at that time to carry out his duties and in fact his actions were defined as gross mis' under company policy, which I checked before suspending him. I think suspending someone on the spot for witnessed potential gross misconduct pending investing and disciplinary is not a large leap.

    I'm not a maverick I just had a tough situation and unclear guidelines. Also a lot of my actions for example tackling phone use were under peer group and senior manager directives. It's just because I'm proactive I was one of the few actually following up so I took some flack. Basically I was getting a lot of unclear mixed messages. I was encouraged to do something then sanctioned for it. It's more complex then I can convey here really.
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: Jay18 Member since: Mar 21, 2019
    #10
  11. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    14,943 1,630
    Round peg with square hole?

    Sometimes people just don't fit in a particular organisation.
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #11
  12. JeffreyMills

    JeffreyMills UKBF Contributor Free Member

    40 15
    You had zero training yet you were able to carry out a suspension? Exactly here is your problem. You sat non- phone duties under suspension are a reward, but sent home on full pay suspension which you did, isn’t? You were out of your depth.
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: JeffreyMills Member since: Sep 29, 2018
    #12
  13. Employment Law Clinic

    Employment Law Clinic UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    3,245 1,533

    I must say, a hell of a lot of steps proposed here, before even suspending an employee!


    I have never considered drafting a letter, let alone investigate a matter, before suspending someone – these are actions that follow (and inform whether the suspension should be continued), not precede a suspension.



    Given it was a weekend, full support from HR unavailable, I would suggest the OP was entirely within their rights to suspend; this could always be addressed on Monday, if there was any doubt about the appropriateness of the suspension.


    Suspension is not necessarily a neutral act, but it’s assumed to be a neutral act unless shown otherwise. In this case, suspending at the weekend was perfectly within the gift of the manager, with the aforesaid provisos – possibly lifting the suspension when more professional advice was available, on the following Monday.




    I’m going to speculate here: @JeffreyMills, you don’t actually know whether or not this happened, do you? Given that the OP was keeping it simple



    yet it proved to be a lengthy post, is it just possible that they (or even a predecessor) fully covered the steps for a verbal warning previously, but kept the post simple, didn’t mention all of that? You’re simply jumping to (critical) conclusions, aren’t you?





    If the suspension was a problem at all, it’s a capability problem for the OP to face. And a bigger problem for the OP’s employer! But simply suggesting there are so many steps that necessarily precede an immediate suspension is really all just bull.



    Oops, having questioned Jeffrey’s comments, now I humbly need advice too!


    Why shouldn’t they be using verbal warnings? I believe this is still a perfectly recognisable term (which is important for the employee to understand the process) – known as a verbal (or first) formal warning; despite its title, the warning is still confirmed in writing.



    Karl Limpert
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: Employment Law Clinic Member since: Aug 10, 2009
    #13
  14. JeffreyMills

    JeffreyMills UKBF Contributor Free Member

    40 15
    Hi Karl, I did ask “did you consider...” not “did you investigate before suspending”. You seem to be doing to me what you are accusing me of ...jumping to critical conclusions. Perhaps you have successfully represented an employer at tribunal who disregards the ACAS code of practice by issuing written verbal warnings, or issues written warnings unilaterally without investigation, or destroys the employment relationship by suspending without due diligence. In which case I shall stand corrected.
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: JeffreyMills Member since: Sep 29, 2018
    #14
  15. Employment Law Clinic

    Employment Law Clinic UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    3,245 1,533

    I do beg your pardon, Jeffrey, for posting an alternative opinion to your own HR professional post.


    And clearly I stand corrected – (excuses I need to rely upon perhaps: it’s late, it’s the weekend), but I’m still bamboozled as to where in


    you did ask if the OP considered anything.


    It’s that last sentence of the quote that really throws me: “If you missed any of these things, you do not know enough about HR to be suspending staff.”


    I was at a dunce at school, still am quite terrible with my command of English, but I would never have related “missed” to “considered” – one infers a necessity; the other an option. Having read it again, I can’t see where you suggest “did you consider…”, but as I say, it’s late, I’m tired, I’m clearly missing something glaringly obvious.



    I again beg your pardon. I didn’t seek to jump to any critical conclusions. But to answer your questions:



    Absolutely yes, to all of this – although where I am involved earlier in the process, I much prefer to ensure the final stages of a dismissal process are so tidy that at that (final) stage an employee has no cause for complaint. The stages before dismissal though – first/verbal/stage one/whatever new term HR use today Warning would be irrelevant, extremely exceptional for a tribunal to hear evidence on, let alone consider within its deliberations, regardless of compliance with the ACAS CoP.


    And most importantly, I would certainly & strongly support the rights of any manager to suspend any employee where they felt it necessary, until further advice could be taken on the continuance of the suspension. If a manager cannot make an immediate decision about suspending their staff without consulting superiors & filling-in a series of forms, they’re not fit to be managers; if a manager cannot take an immediate decision about their staff without consulting superiors & filling-in a series of forms, their superiors & HR managing & advising them are not competent.


    Karl Limpert
     
    Posted: Mar 23, 2019 By: Employment Law Clinic Member since: Aug 10, 2009
    #15