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I Think The Company I Work For Are Using The Disciplinary Process To Get Rid Of Me And Other Managers. Advice Needed!

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Wu Banger | 09:23 Sun 09th Mar 2014 | Law
19 Answers
Hi. I have worked for my current company now for just over 2 years. Everything has been fine but they have put in a HR manager and i am now on my third disciplinary in as many months. I have been told by a colleague that the company are "issuing loads of disciplinary's" and "getting rid of a load of managers". the first 2 resulted in a written warning but 2 separate ones as i was able to give evidence to back up a defense. Sorry if this all a bit long winded but i want to get everything mentioned to cover any possible replies

I'll explain what this 3rd disciplinary is about. Basically, i run a pub with a restaurant. I was taking 2 weeks off but staying in the premises as i was simply using holiday i had accrued. Another colleague was looking after the day to day running of the pub. My safe in the premises was playing up so we did the cash handover and i took it on myself to ring the brewery office and log the fault. I was asked to take photos and email them in which i did. After a few days of not hearing anything, i had to call them and chase it up. The following Monday - a week after first logging the fault, a safe company turned up. I wasn't expecting them but as i had heard them outside my flat, i spoke with them. I asked if the safe could be fixed and the chap said "it looks like a piece of metal in the mechanism but they dont make these anymore so you may need a new safe". And that was that. I said let me know if you need to speak to me, i'm just in my flat. He never did and had left when i came out. I returned to work the following Monday, did the handover etc and caught up with a few things then someone rang in sick so had to get ready to take on an evening shift as well. The next day i got a snotty email through saying "I was advised the safe was not repairable" and that "this should have been a priority" and that i "need to explain why this was not reported".
The way i see it is I WAS ON HOLIDAY!! I was on pre approved leave from managerial duties and don't think i should be held accountable. I took time out to log the issue and take photos of the safe, as well as chasing it up when nothing had happened. As far as i was concerned, the matter was being dealt with by my "higher powers" as they were the ones liasing with the safe company. Also the safe engineer never said to me that a new safe was needed, just that it may be. At no point did he say to me that i was to contact the brewery to let them know. The problem i had have though is that the engineer has sent an email, possibly just covering his own back as he didn't follow his company protocol, stating he did relay this info and advisory.

So i just need to know where i stand with the fact i was on leave from duties at the time. I also want to know how it stands on a legal front to receive so many invites to disciplinary's but also the information i received about it happening across the board, information i believe has been leaked from above, i can't see going down too well with any employment tribunal. Surely using the disciplinary process to get rid of people isn't legal? I understand you need to discipline people from time to time, but not use the system just to get rid of individuals you no longer wish to have in your employment.

Thanks in advance for any help.



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My answer may be a little rusty as I no longer live in the UK.
This sounds like a type of Constructive Dismissal but would need to be proven at a Tribunal or in court in which case it is very important to keep a good record of your actions and those of your employer/HR dept.
If the company is as you suggest trying to restructure by unfairly dismissing staff you may have recourse with your colleagues to a Class Action or what in the UK is called a Bill of Peace ( I think Class Actions are limited in the UK to Fair Trade and Competition laws).
A Bill of Peace is a where a 'multitude' approaches the court for a decision.
A couple of links to help; a visit to a local Citizens Advice Bureau is a good bet.
Have you not had any disciplinaries prior to this rash of them? You say. It sounds like a case of your word against his (the engineer). ACAS give very good advice in situations like this. I would recommend calling them first thing tomorrow.
Either CAB or ACAS

My old employer fell foul of differential disciplinaries - whilst the MD was paying himself 200k to run the place - but the answers on the day in court were so obviously racially inclined - that his lawyers played the race card.

but originally the case - since I was an employee at the time and we were talking about it was on unfair use of disciplinaries which is what you were posting about.

it is here:

The case itself will be on BAILII - the free legal site
Do you have a Company Finance Policy or Repair & Maintenance Policy or Procedures. If so it will be one of those points that will be brought up. As for you being on holiday if you have everything signed & approved you should be OK. If for example your deputy who was in charge in your absence did not know the procedure to follow or was off duty at the time of the engineers visit that will be a training issue.
If each incident is a1st written warning they cannot sack you for the number of them it has to be the same offence.
Good luck it happened with the company I worked for a few years ago.
Unfortunately, you have taken on responsibility for it, even though you were on leave, so i don't think you can now use that as a reason. Although you would have been within your rights not to deal with them in the first place.
Question Author
Zacs-Master - I have not any disciplinarys prior the the 3 i have just received in Jan/Feb/March. Also when you say to call them, do you mean speak directly with the safe company?

Pixie373 - at no point did i say i would take responsibility for it. I simply logged the fault with our office and sent some pictures of the safe. I did speak with the safe company though upon request of the office, to pass on the fault so the engineer would be prepared when they came. I was never informed by them or my bosses as to when they would come, nor was i ever instructed to pass on any findings. I had told the relief manager that i had logged the fault and that someone would be coming out at some point. As far as i was concerned, i was on holiday and had already gone above and beyond to highlight a security issue and was confident the matter was being dealt with directly from our head office. I find it strange that an engineer would not pass any findings on directly to whoever employed him to come out, this is why i think the engineer is lying as he doesnt want to get in to trouble himself.

Thanks for your help so far everyone, mega stressed out with it all!

No, I meant ACAS. Don't get involved with the safe co.
There are responses here referring to one or more engineers but I can see nothing in your post suggesting any, so I must be a bit thick and should be careful how I put things or else I may receive "a disciplinary".

Unfortunately, there are both unpleasant people and methods around and the latter are frequently employed by the former. The motive for this may, as you imply, originate above the HR people but without clear indication of that it is just as likely that it is someone within HR trying to make a mark, possibly to impress upstairs. Also, that individual(s) may misinterpret some "policy" of establishing more "systematic", etc. "operations" or take it too far.

It is a fact that there are lots of people who work hard to belittle others in the misguided belief that this makes them greater. I know of a case where someone planted on a colleague's computer some unsavoury material and then went and caused his computer to be checked. The victim was about to leave anyway so the aim was to ensure he would not be re-employed elsewhere within the company. The perpetrator was in fact very worried because the victim entirely incidentally was a comparison figure to him (the perpetrator) as being far better at his job. The victim never saw the material because he was unaware and left simply puzzled as to how in his last few days people he had been on good terms with suddenly acted oddly - not to mention those he had little to do with. The point of all of this is that it is far easier to destroy someone with totally fabricated material/allegations than it is for the victim to find anyone to listen to simple facts and truth. The victim becomes "unclean" and there is almost nobody who remains normally disposed. It seems it takes a lot of moral courage to question the new reality and very few indeed possess such courage.

Be careful and ensure you behave correctly, don't act on assumptions.
Sorry, I now see you mentioned a safe engineer. I take it this was some form of screwdriver and pliers man - a technician. I myself flush the toilet after use and am therefore a toilet engineer.
Don't get too stressed. I too was a pub/manager and lived on the premises. I don't know how long you have been doing this job but you are probably stressing because if you lose your job your home is also lost and all the perks that come with a live in job. (Ie no utility bills except maybe council tax and food in some instances).
Question Author
KARL - I wasn't sure on the correct termanology but thank you for correcting me! I just mean't somebody who came out to repair safes, which im sure you understood. I have included a spelling mistake and grammatical error for you take take pleasure in trolling and pulling me up for. Thanks.
Wu, some good advice posted already I see. Just a thought though - I've dealt with safe engineers before and they used to leave a copy of the 'sign-off' sheet of the works done/ suggested works for the client - did he do this when he visited? If so, then his advice will be down in black and white.

Unfortunately a lot of companies are going down the route of disciplinary's to make staff changes (get young 'mouldable' staff in etc, etc) - Is there anything going on with your contract i.e have the company you currently work for recently/ in the last couple of years acquired the company that used to run the pub? If so, has your contract been tupe'ed over? (again, just a thought - trying to cover as many avenues as possible).

Lastly, if this leads to a disciplinary, get your most business savvy colleague/ friend to attend as witness and go through all the details and history between yourself and the company in advance of the meeting date - they may be able to see something happening outside the box that you have missed.
The first step surely has to be to look at your company's disciplinary and grievance policy, and then the annual leave policy. They can't just initiate new processes without consultation. Consulting ACAS is an excellent suggestion.
Question Author
peaspeculiars - good call on the sign off sheet. When the guys were here fitting the safe i signed their work sheet, i never did this first time round though!

Boxtops - i'll ask for a copy of their policy proceedures. The last disciplinary i received was for having a stocktake of -4%. Apparantly they take action above 4% and although i presented evidence to claw it back to around -3%, i still got a warning!
I am going to play devils advocate here and say.

You are the manager and you were on the premisis and you delt with the ongoing situation with the safe. Unless you handed everything over to the relief manager and said "please deal with this for me while I am away" I think it is your responsibility to make sure procedures were followed. Holiday or not it is your pub and you were dealing with it while on holiday so don't use holiday as an excuse!!

If you had not been on holiday would you have waited without a proper working safe for a week without knowing when a repair or replacement was going to happen? Would you have done a half job if the pumps broke down?

For my money a good manager deals with things and doesn't wait to hear from someone elsewhere about something like a safe. They take ownership and regardless of 'head office' if there is something that needs doing they get onto it. The minute the safe people left I would have been onto ho asking what will happen with the safe.

As for getting more warnings now. Well it could be that those higher ups have woken up to the how lax some mamnagers have become and are putting their house in order. The 'I've always got away with it' doesn't mean it is right!!

If as you say you are able to prove that they are not warrented then if you still get a warning then you are able to appeal through the grievence proceedure.
i have to agree with cassa ^^
By reporting the safe fault , taking photos and then chasing up the safe company you had accepted responcibility for it even though you were on holiday.
I think cassa speaks a lot of sense.
But it's still worth speaking to ACAS.
However if you feel the employer clearly doesn't want you it's worth asking yourself whether you really want to stick around.
Incidentally, I'm not sure why you feel Karl's response was 'trolling' but you could report it to the Ed and see if he agrees
Have you had your disiplinary yet? And if so what was the outcome?
Question Author
Yep, i got a final written warning!

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