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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38340
Experience:  Expert in UK Employment Law
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I have been wrongly accused of bullying at my work place and

Resolved Question:

I have been wrongly accused of bullying at my work place and would now have to face a disciplinary committee next week, with statements from few of my colleagues saying I was unfriendly when they first started, not talking to them.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello and thank you for your question, which I will gladly help with. Please let me know what would you like to know about this?

Customer: You should be advising me on wat steps to take. Going through the notes of meeting from the witnesses, my boss lead the witnesses to say things like she intimidated me when I earlier started, she does not speak to me while on duty as in chatting, we are dealing with vulnerable adults with dementia and we can't be chatting on their heads and am not a chatty person though. I carry out my duties deligently and only interact when it has to do with the job. I 've had recommendations from the clients, the t/leaders . I don't know where I ve gone wrong.
Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

Customer: Well, about 4years now. Yesterday I faced a disciplinary committee, tried my best with the help of God, am awaiting their decision, you refused to advise me , so I don' t know what more to say but wait as they said though am not on suspension, but ve been off for the past 3weeks on stress work. Still intend to be off till they make their final decision.
Customer: 4years, though I faced a disciplinary committe yesterday.
Ben Jones :

and what happened at the disciplinary?

Customer: Are you there?
Customer: I tried to put up my defence, questioned their witnesses, showing I 've not done anything to bully them or otherwise. I high lighted that I rare work in the same place with them etc, . Though my director of operation finalised by saying , she would take her decision in the coming week as quickly as she can, but said don't you see a lit bit of yourself as an outspoken person , that you may make your colleagues feel a bit like......feeling they are not welcomed. She then goes on to say, even me as your director, you are telling me wat to do bcos I refered her o a doc, which I said she she call the office and find out. It was quite a hostile atmosphere but later eased off.
Ben Jones :

Sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Generally, an employee’s misconduct is a common reason for an employer taking disciplinary action. The misconduct could either be a single act of serious misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time. It is usual for employers to have a disciplinary policy in the workplace, which would contain examples of what amounts to misconduct, but in the absence of one it would be down to a common sense interpretation of law and fact.


 


In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that:



  • At the time of taking disciplinary action, the employer had reasonable grounds for believing the employee was guilty of the alleged misconduct;

  • The employer had carried out as much investigation as was reasonable in the circumstances; and

  • A fair disciplinary procedure was followed.


 


The first requirement is for the employer to conduct a reasonable investigation. Following the investigation they have to hold a genuine belief that the employee was guilty of the alleged misconduct. Finally, if they discipline the employee they have to show that the measures taken were a reasonable response that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.


 


Investigation - what is a reasonable investigation depends entirely on the circumstances and what resources are available to the employer. A reasonable investigation would generally include interviewing witnesses, obtaining available documentary evidence, etc. However, an employer is only expected to go as far as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and they would not be expected to conduct a forensically detailed investigation.


 


Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation shows evidence that misconduct may have occurred then the employee should be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing to answer the allegations. They must be given prior notice of the meeting, details of the allegations and any evidence to be used against them. They have the statutory right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague. Legal representation or family/friends are not allowed, unless the employer agrees. At the disciplinary hearing the employee must be given the opportunity to defend the allegations. The employer must take the employee’s representations into account before making a decision.


 


Decision - if, as a result of the investigation and the disciplinary hearing, the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty of the alleged misconduct, then they can go ahead and formally sanction the employee if necessary. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. Therefore, longer service and clean disciplinary record should result in the employer giving more thought into deciding what action to take.


 


Sanction - unless the offence in question amounts to gross misconduct (i.e. something so serious to justify instant dismissal), the ACAS Code of Practice recommends that the employee should be issued with a warning first. If any further misconduct occurs in the future, only then should dismissal be considered.


 


In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. To be able to justify disciplinary action as being fair, it has to show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.


 


If you have any doubts about any of the above and believe that the employer has not conducted a reasonable investigation or followed a fair procedure, you have the option of appealing to the employer after a formal disciplinary decision has been taken against you. If the outcome is dismissal then you can also consider submitting a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. There is a strict time limit of 3 months less a day from the date of dismissal to issue a claim and you need at least 1 year’s continuous service to qualify.


 


Please let me know if you have any further questions on this. If you do not, I would be grateful if you could please press Accept before exiting, many thanks.


 

Customer: Thank you. I replied to my director, that I would not deliberately annoy anyone, and that I do not see myself but as she is said that I am a bit of a strong character which could make them say wooh!, I said I would walk on that and probably some trainings to help me deal with that , I summed up my plea saying this is a relationship problem and bullying not bully and that I will nerver put any of our service user at risk as she claimed. Tell me if that was well said. However, I am believing god for his redemption.
Ben Jones :

at this stage you are dealing with pure speculation I'm afraid because their decision has not been made. You may be thinking the worst, but that may not necessarily happen. Wait for their decision and check exactly what was decided and why and then reconsider your position again and what steps to take

Ben Jones, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 38340
Experience: Expert in UK Employment Law
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