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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by angelmouse75, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. angelmouse75

    angelmouse75 New commenter

    Just before the half-term, I was called to a meeting with the Inclusion Manager (I'm a SENCo in a private school) and a governor to discuss my 'continued employment'. It was completely out of the blue - no capability,no competency and no absence issues - but even so I had a fair idea what was coming. I took a union rep to the meeting and was told that, as is their right, they were terminating my employment (under the 2 year rule) but didn't feel that it would be remotely helpful to anybody to discuss why they were making this decision. They were giving me 2 months notice and my last day will be April 12th (our last day of Spring Term). They said that they would give me a good reference (gee thanks) but if asked, they would refuse to divulge why they were firing me. The rep and I decided then that I would resign instead to protect my references.
    I'm jobhunting now but have only been given 2 days paid leave for interviews, anything more than that and I lose a day's pay. I'm already losing my salary for the whole of the Easter holidays, presuming I can get a post starting Summer term but those jobs are few and far between now as the Feb resignation date looms large. Even if I temp, that's half-term and the summer hols without pay. I went for an interview yesterday but didn't get it so that's one of my days gone already. My husband earns 25k a year, we have 3 kids a loan, rent, a half-paid summer holiday. I'm beside myself with worry and spend most of my day crying.

    I want to say to hell with it and go sick for the remainder of my notice period (at least then I could go to interviews) but I still need a good reference and can't afford to have high sickness absence plus I genuinely worry about the boys I look after.

    I'm not sure anyone can help but I just needed to let it out - I can't verbalise any of this at home, the situation is bleak enough and I need to be positive for my family's sake.
    kareokequeen likes this.
  2. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Not sure I can offer anything other than sympathy, and the suggestion that you may (in time) come to realise that you are better off out of what clearly was a difficult situation ( You say: 'even so I had a fair idea what was coming').

    My advice, FWIW:

    • Ask your Union for help/advice;
    • Research what benefits you may be entitled to;
    • Construct a family budget and see what you can save/where you can save; Can you access short term financial help from any family member?
    • Depending on the age of your children, I'd tend to be honest with them - otherwise they may actually think things are worse than they actually are;
    • And, if you can, DON'T accept just the first job you are offered unless you are certain it's the right one for you: don't jump from the frying pan into the fire!
  3. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    Speak to your Union for advice ASAP.

    Giving 2 days paid leave for interviews is a real dick move, given that they're terminating your employment.

    I would ask the union about going off for the remainder of your contract with WRS. Honestly, you sound about as stressed as can be, any doctor would sign you off - you need to look after yourself. Don't see it as a tactical move, it genuinely sounds as if you need it - the added bonus is it frees you up for interviews. Another added bonus is that you will no doubt perform better at interview as you'll be rested and de-stressed.

    I had a SENCo in EXACTLY the same boat as you when I was Union Rep. He went off sick for the remainder of his time and found another job.
    He didn't want to go off, he though of it as a bit of a cheat. If you'd have seen the guy, he was so stressed he looked physically ill. He couldn't see it though. After a few weeks off I caught up with him - he looked, sounded, acted completely different. He was his old self! He hadn't realised how bad he was until he got better.

    RE: the money. You shouldn't worry about it. You will survive. It's only money. You will cover the rent, the loan, the kids with your husbands salary and whatever you bring in. It'll take some serious belt tightening, but speaking as someone that has 2 kids a mortgage, car repayments etc and dropped to about the same salary as above I'll tell you it's doable.
    It's not great, but what's worse than being skint and extreme budgeting is the worry about being skint and extreme budgeting. It's literally 100x worse.
  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Sorry to sound a cautionary note, but if you upset your school by going off sick and then going to interviews (which some consider to be legally dubious anyway - I don't have the legal expertise to be sure either way) then the employer could give the circumstances of your departure. And, by the way, you would need to look at your sickness entitlement - some employers are pretty mean about it.

    It is probably too late now, but did your employment contract say you could be dismissed at two months' notice? Even within two years, you are entitled to your contractual notice period. And, and this is probably clutching at straws, could you claim your dismissal was affected by a protected characteristic - e,g, gender? Such dismissals are not included in the two year rule. But you would need union advice on this.
  5. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    Sorry to hear this. Do you have an idea why they dismissed you?
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  6. angelmouse75

    angelmouse75 New commenter

    Thanks to everyone so far.

    I have no idea why they dismissed me and they refused to give specifics, that's one of the hardest things is knowing that I slogged my guts out for 18 months for them to then do this. I have my own suspicions that it was financial although I've been formally warned not to repeat this as it would be seen as slanderous and they would dismiss me for gross misconduct. Without being too specific, I'm a SENCo in a school that's split between mainstream and an ARP - the ARP side don't really need me as they have an inclusion manager so I'm really just a SEN teacher who does paperwork and on the mainstream side, as thy're an independent school there's no legal requirement for them to have one. (The main part of the school is a selective grammar so they'd actually prefer it if there were no SEN students admitted at all). I think they worked out they could save a bit of money if they just got rid of me. The official line though is that I handed my notice in and if I stick to that script then I'll be allowed to leave with a good reference.

    The contract is a bit vague and even the governor struggled with it but it looked like it would be the same as the notice that I would have to give them if I was leaving, so 2 months it is. I was lucky to have a great Union rep and we explored the idea of protect characteristics but it would have been a nightmare to prove and I'm not at all convinced that was the reason anyway.

    Thanks for the support and advice. I'm going to go back to the rep and ask about going sick - I had almost hoped that they would offer me gardening leave but I probably wouldn't have taken it at the time, I have a Y11 class doing exams and coursework at the moment and wanted to get them through as far as I could but hindsight is 20/20.

    The kicker is that I saw my line manager in the corridor on Monday and she was chirpy and sing-song asking me how I was and whether I had a good half-term. She seems to have absolved herself of all responsibility - she didn't even sit in on the dismissal meeting, she left that t the governor, a man I've never met.
    I actually tutored her daughter last year and got her through her exams when she was on the verge of dropping out and failing everything.

    I flit between angry, devastated, numb and then back to angry again. This is all so damn unfair.
  7. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    It's very unfair.

    It seems like they have basically blackmailed you into resigning, and now they haven't even got the decency to allow you time off for as many interviews as are necessary. You're saving them having to admit that there's a financial issue (if that's the real reason), and they're not showing any duty of care towards you.

    Your line manager, of course, may not have had any say in all of this. Does she know that your resignation was their idea?

    Hopefully there will be a few extra jobs being advertised this week as the last-minute resignations come in.
    jlishman2158, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    1. Check you’ve actually been dismissed
    You can only challenge a dismissal if you can show it actually happened. You’ve been dismissed if your employer has done any of the following:

    • ended your contract of employment, with or without notice
    • refused to renew your fixed-term contract
    • made you redundant, including voluntary redundancy
    • dismissed you for going on strike
    • stopped you from coming back to work after maternity leave


    You haven’t been dismissed if you’ve:

    • been suspended
    • resigned by choice
    Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you resigned because either:

    • you were pressured to hand in your notice
    • your employer did something that was a serious breach of your contract and you didn’t want to accept it
    Either of these could count as a type of dismissal called ‘constructive dismissal’.

    Superficially? I don't think there's anything we can do to help except reassure you that you have been a victim of budget constraints and that you've done nothing wrong. You're clearly good at the job as they have pledged to give a good reference. Not having enough money in the budget is a sound business reason for letting staff go but they're just too embarrassed to admit it.

    I'm so sorry. Keep applying for jobs and I'm sure things will work out OK.

  9. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    At this stage, reflect on the good advice above. Good luck, sorry to hear you're in this situation.
    Hope you find good employment asap.
  10. a1976

    a1976 Occasional commenter

    I very sorry to hear this and I am sure everything will work out. I'm shocked at how our teachers are being treated. No wonder nobody is entering the profession. Is this what the government wants?
  11. angelmouse75

    angelmouse75 New commenter


    I called it dismissal in the title as, aside from semantics, that's what's happened, I've just tried to control the narrative a little.

    Thanks for the links - unfortunately they have me over a barrel - they told me they were terminating my employment and made a big deal about what they would (or rather wouldn't) tell a prospective employer. My union rep and I made the offer to terminate my resignation in order to protect my career but the governor made sure that I wrote in my resignation letter that I was not being coerced in any way and that it was my own choice before they would accept it. If I didn't write it in that way, they would terminate my employment as per the original plan - so constructive dismissal is out the window, as are any benefits.
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I might be tempted to fight this through legal channels
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  13. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    So sorry to hear about this.

    One bit of advice, don't go sick and then go to an interview.

    I suspect that your reference would be less favourable than it would at present if you did that as the school you are employed by would find out.
    jlishman2158 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  14. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    If it is for financial reasons why not just say that you are making them redundant?

    After all there is nothing to pay as the OP has been there less that 2 years so there is no redundancy payment. Why the cloak and daggers?

    I was under the impression that you could not be fired without giving a reason.
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Well, it sounds as if there was coercion. By the governor.


    Proving it. Fighting it. Claim and counter-claim. Solicitor's letters (whether it's your solicitor or one paid for by the union). Delaying tactics. Time. Hope. Despair. I've been through this with my wife and it's very draining. You don't even get much out of it if you "win"! In our experience anyway.

    It's maddening. It seems unfair. It's made you feel every kind of awful. But I would let it go. Move on.
    agathamorse and angelmouse75 like this.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Getting your dismissal in writing
    You have the right to ask for a written statement from your employer giving the reasons why you’ve been dismissed if you’re an employee and have completed 2 years’ service (1 year if you started before 6 April 2012).


  17. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    So they do not need to tell you at all under two years? Wow, I knew they could get rid but I still thought you had to be told why.
  18. angelmouse75

    angelmouse75 New commenter

    All they have to say is that it didn't work out or you weren't a good fit - it's a disgusting practice. It means my employers got 18 months of blood, sweat and tears but could just cast me aside when they felt like it.

    I know I need to let it go (and sometimes I do) but it's hard to just move on when this is having such a huge impact on my life.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    It is all very well to talk about fighting but, unless a protected characteristic is involved, as seems not to be the case, you have no rights to claim unfair dismissal if you have not been there for two years. It seems outrageous that the school is not giving you a reason, but I can't see how you can force them to. But, in any case, they could say something along the lines that you mention. It doesn't need to be a good reason.

    You mention resigning to protect your reference, but I am not sure that this has to work. They could easily say that you were given notice but you decided to resign. Perhaps your union could help you persuade your school to agree a reference. It is in their interests to do so. It costs nothing, would help you to get another job and they could ask you to agree not to talk about what happened after you left. You might not be happy with this, but it could well be in your best interests.
  20. marmitemate

    marmitemate New commenter

    Just read your post, could have inserted my name here! The reasons given to me were equally vague. I had all sorts of ideas about fighting it, but like a previous post has said, there was nothing I could do.Morally wrong - yes, but legally they could. It's totally disgusting and frustrating. In the end I resigned (I was SLT at the time). I left with a good reference and I've found schools understand the situation I left (I've never gone into detail as teaching is a small world). If you want to pm me you can.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.

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