I resigned from my post as team leader children and families in Argyll and Bute Council on 8th March 2013 on the grounds of constructive dismissal. I started up that post on 20th February 2012 and so I have worked more than a year for that employer. From February 2012 to August 2012, I had 4 different line managers. I had little support from management and confusing instructions, even though they were made aware since the time I applied for the post towards the end of 2011 that this was my first manager’s position. I was not given induction, in breach of their Supervision Policy. Tasks required of me by Senior Management were excessive and their expectations were unrealistic. I was asked or expected to cover for two and even three teams (one sometimes two teams in addition to my own) despite my being inexperienced as a team leader. I was also asked to attend numerous training sessions during the months I was in post, making it difficult for me to be available to staff. Nevertheless, all my successive managers (John Duncan, Donna Carvill, and Lorraine Prentice) and their manager (XXXXX XXXXXne, Operations Manager) gave me positive feedback about my performance during 6 months, until a new manager (Janice Frank) arrived to cover temporarily as my line manager and area manager of the team in August 2012. She gave me some support initially. However, she then told me she was extremely dissatisfied and visibly angry that I had sent to her boss copy of an email sent to her expressing my serious concerns about major changes they wanted to make to my team without consulting me. In that email, I was expressing my concerns about the additional burden that would be put on my workers who were already very busy in other tasks, notably. In this, I had at heart the wellbeing of my workers, performing my duty of care towards them. Following that incident, Ms Frank’s demeanour towards me changed drastically. She became a lot more vindictive and even clearly abusive on several occasions, within a period of two weeks towards the end of August 2012. She alleged that my practice was deficient, mostly based on two visits a week during the two weeks she was effectively in post when I was there, so four visits in total, as she retained her other duties as area manager of other teams in Oban while covering for my team in Lochgilphead as well. From that moment on, she saw nothing positive in my practice and she instigated an unfair disciplinary procedure against me. She stated in a report she had taken upon herself to interview all of my staff, thus jeopardising the objectivity and integrity of the disciplinary process. Due to stress she brought upon me, I was signed off sick by my GP for 2 weeks, on the grounds that I was suffering "work related stress". Upon my return to work after two weeks, during what was to be my “return to work” interview, my Operations Manager (my manager's manager), XXXXX XXXXXnes, decided to suspend me from work with immediate effect on the allegations that my practice as team leader was below standard and that I had potentially put staff and/or clients at risk. The employer nominated an investigator who, incidently, was my first line manager with Argyll and Bute Council, John Duncan. He took four months to complete his investigation, partly because he said he had to take his annual leave, and also because he was still retaining his regular position in that period, as he stated to me. Then he produced a report recommending a disciplinary hearing, set ultimately for 14th March 2013. This was set and reports and statements from witnesses were sent to me. I only found out the details on concerns against me from my then employer in these reports which I received towards end January 2013, four months after the start of the investigation. Initially, my then employer was giving me only 8 calendar days to absorb all their reports, as the disciplinary hearing was set eight days later initially. The employer refused my request to postpone the disciplinary hearing a first time, as I was asking for more time to digest their evidence. The employer agreed to my request made a second time to postpone the disciplinary hearing, as I was also stating they had not interviewed some key witnesses which could give a more balanced and more complete evidence on my performance, who could have also helped in my defence, including all my managers prior to Janice Frank’s arrival notably, but also other professionals and agencies as well as clients I had had contact with, from February 2012 to August 2012. I discovered that the investigator deemed it necessary to interview all of my staff. He interviewed me with my Union and led the interview in a very leading manner, leading to believe he had already reached a conclusion. Indeed, he gave very little weight to my version of events if his report. My union representatives Mary Watt and Catriona Graham from Unison, who supported me throughout the disciplinary process have clearly been of the opinion that the employer failed to substantiate the allegations about practice below standard and about having allegedly placed clients and/or staff at risk. The employer then instigated a second disciplinary procedure against me around February 2013, this time alleging I had provided a false CV or false information to a work agency, and that I had contracted work for an agency while being employer by Argyll and Bute Council.
I strongly refute all of my former employer's allegations against me and consider their disciplinary processes as abusive and clear harassment against me. My former Argyll and Bute Council made my position as team leader or in any other capacity working for them so untenable that I felt I had no other option but to resign on 8th March 2013, as I developed the clear view that the employer had seriously breach the trust between the employer and me, and by manipulating the whole disciplinary process in such a way that I had become convinced that I would have not been given a fair hearing, had I gone along with their disciplinary processes. I had initially given a 30-day notice with my resignation, as stated in the terms and conditions of my contract if employment with Argyll and Bute Council. However, my employer then informed me via my Union that they intended to call as witnesses all my staff. I felt it would have been utterly unfair and distressing to subject the whole team to that duress. This became the last straw and I then gave my resignation to my employer with immediate effect, on 8th March 2013.
Towards the beginning of March 2013, Argyll and Bute Council have reported their alleged concerns about me to my professional body, the Scottish Social Services Council, without informing me than they would be reporting me. This seems in violation to the regulations of the SSSC. Since then SSSC has instigated its own investigation, still pending. The SSSC has also just informed a potential employer of their investigation and I have now lost that contract. There is now the potential risk that my whole career of 24 good years in social work, in UK since 1999, and in Canada before that since 1989, could be destroyed, triggered by the unfair, abusive and vindictive actions from Argyll and Bute Council, but also from SSSC. I have several positive references from employers but also from my line manager up to August 2012 in Argyll and Bute confirming they had no concern about my practice. I intend to lodge a case to the Employment Tribunal against Argyll and Bute Council, and against SSSC if this is also necessary, to clear my name and protect my career. I am trying to find new work via a work agency, Seven Social Care, and they are fully supportive of me and find disciplinary processes from Argyll and Bute Council and SSSC utterly unfair and they even said they have never seen anything like it. My wife is an experienced HR advisor for Highlands and Islands University and she also says she has never seen such unfair procedures. I am in contact with a former team leader in Argyll and Bute, Morag White, who has extensive evidence about the vindictive and malicious nature of Janice Frank, but also about systemic malpractice from her and from Argyll and Bute Council as an employer as a whole. She is prepared to testify in my favour if needed. My agency worker from Seven Social Care, Matthew Pitcher, is also prepared to testify in my favour. I am confident I could also potentially obtain the testimony of my line manager up to August 2012, Donna Carvill, who indeed has produced for Seven Social Care a positive reference confirming her overall satisfaction about my performance. I also have extensive documentation (supervision notes with my staff, team meeting minutes, etc) supporting my claim.