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Advise on gaining a reference from my previous employer after informal capability

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by png68, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. png68

    png68 New commenter

    Hi there
    I am hoping that someone will be able to give me some advice regarding a complete mess in therms of an informal capability process.

    In very brief terms:
    Informal capability actioned in January 2017 - badly managed - went on until last week of Spring term.
    During this last week (w/e 31.03.17) , the school agreed with Union for me to return in Summer as morning intervention then afternoon in my class.
    Next day this was changed to not being in class at all, then I was told "we will find something for you to do"
    At this point I was so demoralised that I felt privileged to be allowed back!! It was awful.
    Even so, I did not want to resign until I had spoken to my Rep, since the school had changed the conditions and a reference had not been agreed.
    I was pressured to resign since they would have had no choice but to go to formal capability - I could not get hold of my rep, calls, texts, email etc - I even contacted NUT head office - no joy. I did not want formal to happen - I resigned.
    Couldn't get of hold of the Union from that point on and during the Spring break I became increasingly ill, breakdown, prescribed antidepressants and therapy. I was not able to return to work - demoralised, paranoid, embarrassed, feeling surplus to requirements.
    During the Summer term I was not contacted by the school, neither was I referred to OH for support.
    The Head was resigning and I was concerned about my reference since the acting head would be the member of staff that managed my capability - and was the focus of the grievance I had started. An employment agency, I knew, asked for a reference and it was satisfactory to get work.
    Towards the end the Summer term, I began to apply to other agencies; the Head had left by then. Initially, the agencies were not getting a response - one of the referees was asked to withhold their reference (the SENCO - who I worked closely with).
    I then found out that the acting head was issuing a factual reference and had filled out the dates of my employment only and did not include any answers in terms of safeguarding etc, so the agency would not be able to offer any employment.
    I had to then look at other employment opportunities, retail, admin, volunteering, delivery for Amazon, Tutoring. These were not successful (only volunteering, Amazon and tutoring were successful).

    This lack of basic educational reference meant that I defaulted on my credit cards, I couldn't afford my expenses, mortgage etc; I was refused JSA because I resigned.
    It is only now that, through the grievance procedure, I have got a reference.

    I cannot believe that I was treated this way and was made to endure such a distressing and financially crippling process.

    I have two questions:
    1. If the previous Head issued a reference is the school required to adhere to that reference regardless of the opinions of the acting head?
    2. I know that a previous employed does not have to give a reference; if they choose to then are they legally bound to provide a factual educational reference, which must include the basic information such as, dates of employment; safeguarding confirmation etc to ensure that I am able to get alternative employment.

    There were no safeguarding issues; I was a hard worker, who had the best interests of the children to heart the issues surrounded my transition from EYFS and Year 1 and it's requirements.

    Can anyone advise me on the 2 questions.

    Thank you for your time in reading this

    Kind regards
    fudgeface likes this.
  2. thatmaninthehat

    thatmaninthehat Occasional commenter

    So sorry for what you have been through.You mention a reference you got through the grievance procedure?Is that acceptable to the agencies who wouldn't employ you before?
  3. png68

    png68 New commenter

    Hi there
    I have just received the reference and am in the process of applying and re-contacting the agencies at the moment, so have to wait and see!
  4. thatmaninthehat

    thatmaninthehat Occasional commenter

    Good luck and let us know.You've been through a horrible experience but the best way to get over it is to try and put it behind you and move on.Don't let them beat you.
    png68 likes this.
  5. png68

    png68 New commenter

    I cannot believe that this has happened and I am disgusted that schools can get away with this behaviour
  6. png68

    png68 New commenter

    Sorry to ask - but I am so angry at the financial situation that I have had to endure - I wanted to get compensation at least to cover the money I have had to borrow to support myself - do you think that is something to look into?
  7. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    Is this an agreed reference? If so then the school have to adhere to this, however be aware that agencies/employers may ask for a reference in different forms and the school may feel they are unable to fully complete them...also they may directly contact the school via telephone which opens a can of worms.

    Not sure who you would seek compensation from. As you resigned then going after your former school or the union for lack of support etc wouldn't work. I think its best to move on :(.
    thatmaninthehat likes this.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I don't think you got a Settlement Agreement, did you? That would be binding. So no agreed reference. But a reference that arose as a result of the decision arrived at after going through the grievance procedure.

    But an employer can reach a decision (after going through the grievance procedure) with which you disagree. Your recourse is then to go to a tribunal. But you're unhappy with the NUT and I don't know how you feel about instructing a solicitor or if that's even possible now you no longer work there.

    The reference? Sorry. I shall tag @Rott Weiler and @GLsghost

    Here's what I would do. Ask for a minimal reference confirming the dates you worked there and the fact that your record on safeguarding was unblemished. Draft a 2-sentence reference and ask them nicely if they are prepared to endorse this statement.

    Loss of earnings? Compensation? Not sure. Might you not have to claim constructive dismissal? And that's a whole other ball-game.

    Here's a very brief account of a successful case.

    thatmaninthehat likes this.
  9. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I am not a legal expert, but memories of threads on here plus a quick Internet trawl suggest to me that there is a 3 month window in which you can claim unfair dismissal. As you resigned, I assume you would need to go for constructive dismissal here, but I think that the 3 month window is still there. @GLsghost will be able to confirm or deny this, as could your union. See the highlighted point near the bottom of https://www.gov.uk/dismissal/what-to-do-if-youre-dismissed .

    Whether you can claim against your union for not giving the service you have paid for is another matter - I think you would need to get legal advice on that one. Citizens Advice or via home insurance?

    As far as references are concerned, unless there is an agreed reference, the school can say as little as it likes (or even nothing). You can only complain if your reference is wrong in some way. Buit that does not stop you trying to agree something, as @grumpydogwoman suggests.
    thatmaninthehat likes this.
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I think you need more legal advice than can be given here. If you have lost confidence in your union do you have any legal expenses cover in your household insurance that might cover legal costs of your consulting a specialist employment solicitor? Or could Citizen's Advice help?

    I suspect constructive dismissal is a non-starter at this stage. The best general advice I've come across is this, on the TUC website. Amongst other things it says: "When you resign, you should spell out in your resignation letter that you are leaving your job because of the employer’s fundamental breach of the employment contract".

    thatmaninthehat likes this.
  11. thatmaninthehat

    thatmaninthehat Occasional commenter

    Lots of good advice here png68.I really do understand your anger about the situation.I was let down too by the Union and sometimes I think I would have been better off seeking legal advice instead.I agree with the other posters that it might be worth asking CAB for advice.Please try to focus on your future.Don't let that anger drain you.

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