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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48193
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi. My husband returned to work after 10 weeks sick leave

Resolved Question:

Hi.

My husband returned to work after 10 weeks sick leave following having a heart attack, 3 days later he was put at risk of redundancy, the only person put at risk. The company has told him that his work can be absorbed by exisiting staff. This seems to strong argument on their part.

Problems, he was given only 24 hours to produce a counter proposal. we argued this as he had not been given an opportunity to ask any questions about the proposed new structure and about things that specifically relate to him, notice periods etc.

There are discrepancies with his notice period, his contract refers to the staff handbook, the staff handbook gives a notice period buy only states 'may'. When recruited he was under the assumption it was three months and the recruiting manager this week also confirmed he thought it was three months and his consultation letter said three months, they have now come back to say that it's just one month.

We have also indicated to them that we are considering following the grievance route due to the treatment he received whilst on sick leave. This included calls/emails not being returned by the line manager, no home visit at 4 weeks, no occ health. All inconsistent with treatment we know other staff have had.

We have been advised that the decision had been made to put him at risk three weeks before they told him, they allowed him to return to work for three days before notifying of the consultation.

The HR manager advised, informally, that there would be a compromise agreement, this now appears to have been withdrawn.

What can we do next, the trust and confidence in the employer has now gone so we want to go down the involuntary redundancy route with some sort of enhanced package. How can we and make sure he gets his three months notice?

Thanks
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 5 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello and thank you for your question, which I will be happy to assist you with. Please let me know how long has he worked there for?

Customer:

He started in October 2007

Ben Jones :

do you have the exact wording of the contract/handbook in relation to the notice period?

Customer:

yes, just finding it!

Customer:

'the firm may terminate your employment by giving you..... then it gives the breakdown for length of service... 'one week for each completed year of service for three or more years service.

Customer:

We also know that other managers in the firm are on a three month notice and it is standard for his type of employement. the partner that recruited him believed until yesterday it was 3 months

Ben Jones :

is his job unique or are there others doing the same job?

Customer:

it is unique to a particular department

Ben Jones :

so what evidence is there of a 3 month notice period, apart from what the manager l

Ben Jones :

believes or what the consultation letter states?

Customer:

unfortunatley that is the only evidence, there is the fact that every other manager in the firm are on three months though

Ben Jones :

ok that is unfortunately somewhat irrelevant because his notice period will be the one that is in his contract and that appears to be a week for each year of service. Unless he can provide further evidence that a longer notice period applied he would struggle to persuade them he is entitled to 3 months' notice. So whilst he can pursue this through the grievance procedure and perhaps try to get a compromise agreement, if these are rejected and he is made redundant, then his only option of taking this further is to make a claim for unfair dismissal

Customer:

Do you think it is worth pursuing a grievance for the firm's conduct whilst he was off sick, they failed to follow their sickness policy and ACAS best practice. Or do you have any advice as to how he should seek to negotiate a compromise agreement

Ben Jones :

yes, there should be no harm in doing so, you do have valid grievances. Advice on how to negotiate a CA can be difficult because it relies on the employer's consent and how they approach this or how they feel about this will affect that decision and it will be difficult to predict. He can initiate the discussions himself and state that whilst he would prefer a CA, he does feel that there are grounds to take this matter further should he be made redundant

Customer:

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX advise that he should initiate this by sending a 'without prejudice' letter/email which states that he is willing go accept redundancy, we would want it to still be involuntary due to insurance policies, also letting them know in it that there has been discrepancies with the consultation process so far, sickness policy and potential administarion error with the notice period? Would we keep the breakdown of the specifics of his grievance out of any communication at this stage? Or would it be better to do this face to face or by telephone?

Ben Jones :

yes you may certainly do so. If accepted, the CA can mention the reason for dismissal and leave that as 'redundancy'. I would advise against conducting anything face to face or by telephone and keep things in writing in order to have evidence of your communications in case they are needed in the future. Of course if a meeting is needed, make sure it is minuted.

Customer:

What is reasonable to expect from a compromise agreement if successfully negotiated? Just to confirm, from the insurance side, is it possible for the CA to allow for involuntary redundancy to enable our mortgage protection to continue to pay out?

Ben Jones :

I can't comment on the insurance because that depends entirely on the cover and policy wording so you need to check that separately. As to a compromise agreement, as a minimum you are looking at what he would be entitled under contract, including redundancy, plus some compensation on top, which would usually be a few months' pay

Customer:

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX you think we should consider at this stage?

Ben Jones :

stand your ground and do not be afraid to challenge the employer's actions, but no one can guarantee a successful outcome unfortunately so be prepared to take this further if necessary

Customer:

Ok, thank you. It's very frustrating, I used to be a solicitor but took a career change so lost my contacts! Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX help

Ben Jones :

aMy pleasure. Unless you need further help, I would be grateful if you could please press Accept before exiting. Many thanks and all the best.

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