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Currently my partner is suspended from work for an alleged

act of gross-misconduct in England...
Currently my partner is suspended from work for an alleged act of gross-misconduct in England. The violation was for refunding a customer without going through the proper procedures. It turned out this customer was a Con man.

The story of what happened:
This "Customer" came into the store and asked at the customer service desk (where my partner was working) to speak to a manager in person. The manager was called and the customer spoke to them away from the service desk. The details of the conversation were not mentioned to my partner when the customer returned to the desk. He then presented the item he wanted to return with a "note" from the police stating that his wife had her purse stolen with all her cards and receipts. My partner proceeded with the refund on the assumption that the manager had authorized this. However due to insufficient funds in the till he had to ask a manager for the "Emergency Float" which was brought to him without question and then proceeded to finish the refund.
After all this had happened it then became apparent that the Customer was a con man and had tricked my partner into the refund using an item he had picked up off the shop floor after talking to the manager.

The Facts that mitigate this accusation of gross misconduct (from my opinion):
-The Manager did not pick up on this when asked for the "Emergency float" for the till nor did they even question why he needed it
-My partner had never actually received proper training into the procedures of refunds

If my partner looses his job it will greatly affect myself as well as him as we rely on that wage to pay the rent etc each month.

What can I do to assist him since I can see the company not even looking at the mitigating factors during the investigation that is coming up soon? Am I allowed to accompany him with the investigation meeting or allowed to question the company personally about the procedures that were not followed or maybe even not put in place at all to prevent this kind of thing happening?

Thanks
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Answered in 4 hours by:
7/9/2013
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48,793
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ben Jones : Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has he worked there for?
Customer:

Currently around 6 years

Ben Jones :

hello again, has he been told that he is going to face a formal disciplinary?

Customer:

Not too sure. Has has an Investigation meeting tommorow, in which he is entitled to a witness of a colleague or union rep. After that I am not too sure what will happen currently.

Ask Your Own UK Employment Law Question
Being placed on suspension is not necessarily an indication of guilt and there is certainly no guarantee that this will go any further. Under employment law, an employer has a duty to conduct an investigation before taking formal disciplinary action and suspension is primarily used as a precautionary measure whilst that is taking place. The only requirement is that any period of suspension is on full pay, unless otherwise allowed by the employee’s contract of employment.

Nevertheless, an employer should not just go ahead and suspend, unless it is actually necessary in the circumstances. It is however acceptable to be suspended if there is an allegation of gross misconduct or if the presence of the employee in the workplace could potentially damage any investigation or have some other negative impact.

If the employer’s investigation collects enough evidence to justify disciplinary action only then should they consider going down that route. If that does happen the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations against them and will get the opportunity to formally defend them at the disciplinary hearing.

On the other hand, if the investigation does not find enough evidence to justify a disciplinary, the employer should just drop the issue and allow the employee to return to work as normal.

At this stage it is too early to say what the actual allegations against him will be because the employer would need to investigate them first before deciding whether to go ahead any further. If this is to go to a disciplinary he will get a better idea of what he is dealing with and what charges he is facing. Unfortunately you cannot accompany him at the meetings as only a trade union rep or a colleague can come in with him. However, you can help him prepare in advance of the hearing.

Finally, if the outcome is a warning or even dismissal, he can appeal with the employer first before considering whether to take legal action to claim unfair dismissal (obviously only if he is dismissed).

Just to mention the law on such dismissals as well, in order to justify that dismissal on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:
• Carries out a reasonable investigation;
• Follows a fair disciplinary procedure;
• Has reasonable grounds for believing the employee was guilty; and
• Show that dismissal was a reasonable decision that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.

So he needs to check if these have been followed before deciding whether to take the matter further.

I hope this has answered your query and would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48,793
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thanks for the reply. He had the investigation meeting today and was informed that the formal disciplinary hearing he need to attend is in 2 days. So I will have to see the outcome of that before figuring out what needs to be done.


Is there any reasonable grounds to ask to have the outcome/disciplinary meeting done by another manager? Since we, and many employees at the store believe the current manager "dislikes" or is biased against my partner. Due to this we believe his decision could be influenced by this.


 

Sorry for the delay, the system had not informed me that you were waiting for a reply. Was the investigation conducted by the same manager that is going to hold the disciplinary?
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Ben Jones
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Category: UK Employment Law
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