Monday, 2 July 2012

Roger was fairly dismissed. How Unite got him his job back...

I can't complain at the decision to dismiss.

Roger made the classic mistake so many workers make.  He thought "I'll make it as easy for them as possible, I'll be good, I won't argue, I'll just accept I was in the wrong and I'll say sorry".  Although a Unite member for many years, for these reasons he chose not to be represented.

With fourteen years service and a clean record, Roger never imagined his one breach of Health & Safety would result in dismissal.  But it did.  And to be fair, it was a really serious breach.

The worst possible thing anybody can say in a disciplinary hearing is nothing at all.  This means you have nothing in mitigation, ie nothing to say for yourself, no excuses, no good reasons to account for your actions, nothing to be taken into consideration on your behalf. This then gives the green light to the employer to throw the book at you.  A hearing manager makes a decision based on the information in front of him/her.  If you don't say "I've got a clean record of fourteen years", you cannot assume that point will be in front of the decision maker.   In this case, the decision was (legally) reasonable in view of the information the manager had at the time of the decision.

It's much harder to change a decision that's been made rather than influence one that's still hanging in the balance.  But Unite interviewed our member and discovered the points of mitigation that ought to have been raised at the dismissal hearing:

* Severe (and unusual) domestic problems at the time the H&S training was delivered.  Management were already aware of the issues, but these were not raised at the dismissal hearing.
* Critically, the same H&S breach was committed by our members manager - on the same day!  Yet no disciplinary action had been taken against the manager.....

The employer ( a midlands based FTSE top 100 company ) accepted our argument that the business had not been consistent and that our member had received "less favourable treatment" than his manager. Also, that there were mitigating factors our member experienced, and there was good reason to believe that trust in this worker could be restored with refresher training and appropriate support.

So three weeks after having been sacked, our member got the job that he loves back again, complete with back pay to the date of dismissal.

Conclusions:

* Always be Union
* Always take advice when facing a difficult or disciplinary situation at work
* Always insist upon representation, and never have nothing to say for yourself !


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