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'Conduct in the workplace letter received and i'm terrified.

Discussion in 'Personal' started by betty73, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. I need some advice/opinions, i'll post this in a couple of areas to get as many opnions as possible.
    So, got a letter in the post today calling me into a meeting to discuss my 'conduct in the work place'...now, I have been off work for 5 months ill and went back a week ago and have so far only taught 4 lessons. Could my conduct be that I was ill? I have literally done NOTHING that could be negative conduct! I am a good teacher (with an Ofsted outstanding last year to prove it!)
    They haven't told me what I have supposedly done but the wording of the letter is so harsh and details what will happen next if they find against me, it makes it sound like they have already decided i'm guilty of whatever it is they think I did.
    My school is making redundantcies and I am wondering if they are just fishing for an excuse to get rid of me because of my sickness record.
    Can they do that?
    This has completely ruined my weekend and I can't get hold of anyone at work to discuss it. I am panicking and feeling like I must have done something awful but I have no clue what it is. I'm just crying and feeling like I cannot possibly go in next week now.
     
  2. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I object greatly to such panic instigating methods in the teaching profession. Whatever the meetings purpose should be clearly stated - and dropping such letters in on am employee on a Friday only means that any queries/ need for advice cannot be sought until after a stressful weekend. Bad, bad form.
     
  3. I do believe that it is a bullying technique to send messages/letters in this way, as it does engender huge stress when people can't access support, or have to go through several days before they can deal with whatever the issue is. I believe though that there are strict guidelines about number of days before letters are sent, and it is possible that the letter was sent on the appointed day.
     
  4. I hope I can give you some advice....

    I have to do these interviews with non teaching staff as part of my Deputy Head role. I can't comment on how your school operates but a lot of it will depend on which LEA you work for- but I'll talk you through what would happen at our school.

    another poster sounds correct- it sounds as though it is to discuss capability (due to a long term absence) at this stage the meeting SHOULD be classed as 'informal' if this is the first meeting you have had to discuss such issues. At the meeting some targets will be set (and you will have to negotiate and ultimately agree to them) e.g they may well set you an attendance target (I never set mine so that I believe people will fail), or that you need to have a fit to work note for every absence (even if it's just one day). It might sound harsh- but your employer IS entitled to do this as at the end of the day the job you are employed to do needs doing and if you have no chance of recovering from your illness something has to be done. The situation can't go on for ever- they may refer you to Occu Health.

    LA's are putting a lot of pressure on schools about attendance and capability at the moment. I've been harrassed 6 times by personnel since half term about some of our staff. They want to know what schools are doing. In this era of budget cuts they are not so keen to keep handing out the sick pay. In our LA they have just reduced the attendance trigger down to 2 periods of absence in 6 months and/or 6 days in total. I'm holding 2 such meetings this week and have advised both (even though it's informal at the moment) to bring someone with them.

    After the 3 month time period your targets are reviewed and if you have met them you are taken off BUT YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT IF YOU HIT THE TRIGGER POINTS AGAIN WITHIN 12 MONTHS YOU WILL GO STRAIGHT BACK TO THIS POINT AND NOT START THE WHOLE PROCESS AGAIN. I find in 99% of cases that people come off after 3 months and that is the end of it. If you have not met the targets the period can sometimes be extended by a further 3 months or it will go to FORMAL stage which is, at the point, starting to get prettty serious and a sign that you could be out of a job.

    YOU NEED TO GO INTO WORK AND TO THE MEETING otherwise you are giving them another absence period to count on your record. I know it's hard but you can do this- and you must ask for help and support if you need it. I've done all sorts to help people- adjusted working hours, referred to Occu Health (with great success), got someone gym membership with the council, buddied people up- etc but there is no getting out of this meeting. You need to go in with your head held high. You need to be able to assure them that you don't expect to be off work long term again.

    all the best with it.
     
  5. Yes letters do have to be sent on particular days/times before.
     
  6. I think applepieplease has given some really helpful support: I would particularly endorse the "go in and face it" advice. I categorically don't mean that to sound unsympathetic, by the way; it'll be incredibly difficult and stressful. However, it's realistically a possibility that they do want to meet about your attendance so as others have said it's not a good time to take any more time off. That aside, the meeting isn't going to disappear: you *will* have to go at some point. Thanks to the stellar timing of the letter you will have already spent two days worrying about it- if you're off next week then you will end up doing more of the same.
    I hope things are resolved quickly and painlessly so that you can go back to enjoying your career. Bets of luck.
     
  7. Eva_Smith

    Eva_Smith Established commenter

    Applepieplease - I've sent you a PM, I hope you don't mind. I'm afraid it's rather a long story....
     
  8. Thanks for the responses, and thank you Applepieplease for taking the time to put a different perspective on things, it's really helpful.
    I hardly slept at all last night, just couldn't stop crying. Think I finally got to sleep around 5am. This has left me in such a state, I am crying, being sick, can't eat, i'm shaking etc etc.
    If it is to do with capability then why would they use the phrase 'allegations that were made about you conduct in the work place'......it doesn't make sense to me.
    I was off work due to depression so you can imagine how much worse this has made me. Even in my darkest days I didn't feel this bad, this has actually made those very dark and scary thoughts return. I actually do not feel that I will be physically and mentally able to go into work like this.
    I have become so paranoid...
     
  9. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    My Head used to send letters to arrive on the Friday. They didn't realise that I had access to the regional rep at the weekend/evenings as they were aware of the tactics and how awful the head was.
    I think you should go in on Monday, but don't attend any formal meetings without your union rep from regional. If you feel that you are forced into a meeting stay calm and say as little as possible. Take notes as well.
    If it is related to your absence then you need to get a copy of the policy and see what the stages are.
    Remember you can call teacher support line and that may help.
     
  10. They use templates for these letters. Whatever happens, you should go in with your union rep. I believe you might also be entitled to have the meeting at your home, if that would be better for you. If you are positive that you have not said or done anything untoward then you have nothing to worry about. ALso - if, let's say, you have been rude to a colleague or something like that, even though you are clearly unaware of it, my understanding is that the HT should go down informal routes before going to disciplinary action or anything like that. I have no direct experience really, just trying to help like lots of others here. The best thing that you can do is take professional advice though. I would strongly suggest as well that you request that any further letters are posted to arrive before Friday, so that at least you are able to access support.
     
  11. Are you sure as well that you cannot get support today? Might it be worth contacting your school rep to get an email address for your area rep? Of course they might not be working but they may be able to help, and it will be better for you to get on with something practical than worrying yourself sick.
     
  12. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    That could be their intention.
    You are going to have to go back eventually or go through capability related to absence. I know how hard it is, but going back on Monday will be much easier and find out what is happening.
     
  13. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Senior commenter

    I know how hard this is for you so sending a hug.[​IMG]
    You can get hold of your regional union rep tomorrow morning. Leave an email or recorded message at the regional office. Give them brief details and your mobile phone number. Or they can ring the school at 8.30. Always good to have the union ring the school and ask for you!
    Then get up and get fighting. Stop crying and get cross! This is out and out bullying. Outrageous way to handle staff, particularly staff returning after sick leave. And not likely to get good results really is it?
    Instead of racking your brain to remember which piece of your conduct might had led to such serious allegations, think of what horrible people you work with and
    accept that you are in the market for another job. You should not stay here, it is making you ill.
    What is the worst that can happen? Think that through, make plans to deal with it and then just try to stay cross until tomorrow. Your fears are worse than the worst that can happen.
    Much love.
     
  14. I totally agree that this could be the intention of some schools

    yes the letters are templates- and for legal reasons (if it ever went to a tribunal for example which is rare) everything has to be worded in a certain way.

    YOU MUST GO AND FIGHT IT- NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS- YOU CAN DO THIS

    and for the record I often (but not always HATE doing these interviews- but it's my job)
     
  15. pibydd

    pibydd New commenter

    I just want to add to what seems a lot of sound advice that I'm pretty confident you can take anyone into the meeting with you so take someone who can be calm for you.
    I would also think that the notice you have had is ridiculously short, these things should work on working days notice - weekend doesnot count.
    <u>If and only if you cannot get your union rep there</u>; I suggest you go in, listen to what they have to say and then tell them that you will need to take legal advice before you comment. Then leave.
    This makes me so mad, whatever you may or may not have done you should not be treated like this
     
  16. I disagree with the previous poster.
    You mustn't go into any meeting alone because you need a witness. The school rep isn't enough. However good he or she may be, they won't have the expertise of full-time union official.
     
  17. I agree with chocolatebox. Refuse to go in without a proper official. I hope you are feeling calmer and see that these are just tactics designed to baffle you. Good luck.
     
  18. I received a reply from work this mornign and they won't tell me anything until the meeting next week. All they said is that they will not tell me what the allegations are or who made them....I didn't realise there was a 'who' involved so at least that's more info than I did have.
    I am completely going out of my mind here. I haven't slept, am just crying uncontrollably.
    I just don't know what to do or where to go with this. I just want to jump off a cliff right now, no joke. I just can't see a way out of this.
     
  19. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Senior commenter

    That's ridiculous. Why are they waiting until next week? It sounds more as if they want to intimidate you than clear the matter up. How can you possibly defend yourself if you don't know what someone has said? And it's very bad practice to leave it even until the end of the day in question, never mind over a week later. All the people involved will have worked their story out and altered it in their minds. At the very least you should demand to know what the problem is. If they won't tell you today I suggest you engage a solicitor to write a letter for you. That shoudl put the wind up them!
     
  20. Betty you are not thinking straight. Have you spoken to your union? If not you must email and phone NOW. Do it now. LEt them take the pressure off you, that is what you pay your subs for. Make sure, and I: know this is a pain, that you note down everything, and try not to have conversations on the phone. If you speak to your union make sure you ask them to confirm the content of your conversation in writing. This is not to scare you, but rather because I have a feeling that they will slip up sooner or later, and you will need evidence. Try not to be all cryey, try your best to calm down and start putting things in writing, just to get the order of things right for yourself. And make sure you have actually spoken to your union, and get someone to come and see you if poss.
     

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