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Really need help....

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Makelike, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. Makelike

    Makelike New commenter

    I have been suspended from work!

    I have a union rep who has supported me the whole way through this process, we had an investigatory meeting and he felt there was no case to answer.

    However I have now been called to a hearing and with it I have a new union rep.

    In my first contact with my new rep today he has informed me that it is very likely that I will lose my job at the hearing.

    I am innocent but from what he is saying unless I can provide substantial proof of my innocence I will lose my job (I cannot provide this level of proof).

    He has said that I may be able to plead with them and come to an agreement with regards to being able to leave and getting a settlement pay but that this is not certain or they may just accept my resignation with immediate effect.

    I want to plead my case but he is sure I will lose my job and so it would be better to take/make a deal.

    What do I do ?

    In terms of losing my job what pay do I receive?

    Please help
  2. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    How awful for you. I'm afraid I believe if you lose your job (or even if you resign it sounds as if this would be with immediate effect) then pay would cease immediately.

    I appreciate you may be holding back on details for worry about identification, but if you do feel able to share a little more there are some incredibly knowledgeable and supportive posters here who can guide and support you through this horrendous time.
  3. Makelike

    Makelike New commenter

    Thank you for your quick reply.

    Yes I am trying to hide my identity but I appreciate any help that can be offered with the information I have provided.

    An allegation has been made and I know I am innocent but my rep informs me that they haven't got to prove the allegation (related to safeguarding), he states that if they have a certain degree of belief on their part then that is enough to terminate my employment.

    I asked about unfair dismissal and fighting my corner at the hearing but he says unfair dismissal will not work as we had a meeting so they will say they have covered the fairness aspect and fighting my corner will be pointless as I will lose.

    I don't know what to do! on top of all this my wife is expecting in January!

    If there is a chance to plead with them and agree a settlement then I feel this may be the better option but I still don't like the fact that I will be out of a job when I am innocent
  4. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    OK we have a couple of people on the forums @GLsghost and @Rott Weiler who may very well be able to point you in a better direction which is why I have tagged them to attract their attention.

    First up, your employers can't just sack you out of a matter of belief they have to have evidence and a certain level of proof. This level is 'on balance of probabilities'. That is, it is more probable than not that you did the deed.

    Second, you have a right to defend yourself against this allegation which means getting enough information so that you can counter the allegations. You must also be given the support to do this.

    This brings us to the third point, your union should be fighting your side not throwing in the towel at the first hurdle. They do not seem to be defending your interests.

    If the union reps are at regional level then you need to get onto the HQ and demand that you receive the service you have paid for in your dues and that they (the union) are bound by contract to deliver.

    Forcing the school to sack you (by not resigning) and then taking them to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal is a possibility. It is not just a case of having a meeting but what happens in the meeting that matters. But (VERY IMPORTANT) you need decent legal advice before you even think about taking this step (not just someone like me on a forum). If the union won't give you that advice then consider going to the CAB (who have specialists) or check to see if your house insurance also offers legal cover that could pay for a specialist solicitor.

    In the meantime try the Teachers Support Network if you need someone to talk to. Also visit the ACAS website where they have information regarding disciplinary actions. This is regarded as the de facto standard to which school procedures should conform. (you should have already been given the school policy for disciplinary)

    I hope that this is helpful and wish you well.
    Dragonlady30, kent1 and Rott Weiler like this.
  5. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I suspect you need to demand advice from the union at a legal level, not just a rep. Any future job will require a reference from this one, and they will be asked about safeguarding concerns. If you have resigned or taken a settlement agreement, those concerns will presumably remain "open" and unresolved, and they would have to refer to them. Hopefully the really knowledgeable people will be along soon with more advice.
    kent1 likes this.
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I am so sorry to hear about what will clearly be a very distressing and frightening experience for you.

    I am afraid that this information is not correct, @irs1054 although I concur with much of what you have said in the rest of your post. An employer CAN dismiss an employee as long as he has a reasonable belief that the OP has committed the misconduct. The standard of proof is not 'on a balance of probabilities', which is the standard in civil law. An employer is not expected to cover every eventuality when conducting an investigation. His duty is to carry out an investigation that is fair and reasonable in the circumstances and make a decision based on a reasonable belief in the employee's guilt.

    Even if the employee is later found not to have committed the misconduct, he will have been fairly dismissed if a fair investigation was carried out and the employer had a reasonable belief, at the end of it, that he had grounds to dismiss.

    It would not matter if another employer would not have dismissed in the circumstances, as long as the employer's response falls into a 'band of reasonable responses' that a similar employer could have made in similar circumstances.

    You asked about unfair dismissal, OP and said that your union rep said that it would not work because they 'had a meeting'. To be fair a dismissal has to be substantially fair as well as procedurally fair. Substantially fair relates to whether a reasonable investigation was carried out before a decision was made; procedural fairness relates to whether guidance on disciplinary procedure was followed (contractual, but likely to be similar to the ACAS Disciplinary Code of Practice, which is the accepted guide for fair procedure). A dismissal may be found to be fair, even if fair procedure was not followed if, in the judge's opinion, the outcome would have been the same even if fair procedure had been followed.

    You asked about payment if you are dismissed, OP. I am sorry to say that, if you are summarily dismissed, you will be entitled to no payment: you are sacked on the spot with no notice or payment in lieu of it.

    I am sorry to say that sometimes bad things happen to good and innocent people. I have seen people dismissed on the basis of the flimsiest evidence because a HT took against them - but also teachers reinstated by governors who overturned the HTs' decisions.
    Rott Weiler and badger_girl like this.
  7. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Thanks for the reply @GLsghost and the correction which I will duly note.

    You paint a bleak picture which I hope is not the OP's position in this case.
  8. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Much, much too often in teaching these days.

    Good luck to the OP
    TheaPine likes this.
  9. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I hope so too, @irs1054.
  10. Makelike

    Makelike New commenter

    Thank you very much for all of the comments and information.

    I will speak again with my representative in the morning.

    From the comments above it is looking more likely that if I can agree a settlement then that will be the best way to proceed.

    From what the rep said, I will still be provided with a reference and nothing will go on my file.

    I will update when able , thank you again.
  11. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    I would personally make your career the priority here rather than hoping for a financial settlement.

    Try to ensure the union rep pushes for you to leave on December 31 (you may be given some gardening leave between now and then) with a good reference. I really hope this can be sorted out. The power that head teachers have is completely disproportionate in so many ways, and HR exists only in the most basic state. I must admit the longer I teach the more it seems head teachers can essentially do what they like, when they like.

    I am well aware that some head teachers are very 'good eggs' mind you.
  12. Makelike

    Makelike New commenter

    Thank you, that was my initial thought and I wanted to go to the hearing and fight my corner but from what the representative has said, I will not win.

    With my wife expecting soon and due to take maternity leave I also need to weigh up the options of trying to fight my corner but also the possibility of losing and not getting any settlement or reference
  13. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Good advice given here Makelike, the only thing I can add is that a financial settlement through a Settlement Agreement is highly unlikely and in planning what you are going to do next I would work on the basis that the school will not offer any financial settlement. From the school's point of view why would they? They have started formal disciplinary proceedings against you for safeguarding-related misconduct that could result in your dismissal. The LA (if it's an LA school) would very likely advise them that to pay a Settlement Agreement if you leave before the disciplinary process ends would be an improper use use of public funds. Sorry that's a rather bleak assessment, but I fear it is a realistic one.

    Someone else has already mentioned this, the matter of references. Nowadays a standard request in all references will be something like 'Have you ever had any safeguarding concerns about this person?'. As the school has started formal disciplinary procedures it will have to answer 'yes' to this and explain the circumstances in any reference it gives. If I were in your shoes that alone might make me want to fight the case.

    I would be very sceptical about that advice. This has got to a formal disciplinary hearing for a safeguarding allegation. I'd be very surprised that a school would keep no record of that if you resigned. Whatever the school policy might say I suspect the school has a legal duty to keep a record where it is a child safeguarding allegation.

    But most importantly I agree with irs1054, don't rely on my advice either

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
  14. Makelike

    Makelike New commenter

    Thank you again for the advice and information.

    The way the representative has put it is that the headteacher has suggested this way, almost looking out for me, as he feels it is the LA who will push for dismissal.

    Honestly I feel quite lost and not sure what to do and don't feel as though the rep has really helped, my first rep was fantastic, but having moved to this stage my new rep has not met the same standards.

    I feel like there is something that I am not being told and I am just being told to take this offer while it is on the table.

    What are your thoughts on fighting my corner ? Is fighting and losing worth it if all of that then goea kn my record? Again from what the rep has said if I take this settlement then nothing will go on my record so I can still get another job.
  15. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    I am not a lawyer, but (if I were the OP) I would be very cautious about agreeing to something that sounds as if you accepted even a tiny part of the (false) allegation was true. This may follow you via references in future and stop you getting another job. At the moment the only 'currency' the OP has is their job (and the truth) - I wouldn't easily give either up unless 110% certain it was in my best interests...
  16. Greendams

    Greendams New commenter

    This must feel incredibly stressful. I have no experience of the legal side of the situation so will leave that to more experienced posters. I do not know your circumstances, but if you need to claim any state benefits be careful about resigning. Resigning from a post may mean that you are sanctioned and get a delay in receiving benefits. I am just going to an appointment, so apologise for a short post.
    kent1 likes this.
  17. Makelike

    Makelike New commenter

    I do not claim anything but thank you for that point. My main concerns at the moment are my career but also finances as my wife is expecting
  18. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    An extremely distressing experience, and made worse by what should be a lovely event - the imminent arrival of the new baby. I am very sorry for you.

    I'm afraid that I share the somewhat gloomy view of @GLsghost here about the level of proof needed to dismiss you,

    And also @Rott Weiler 's point about the records and therefore the reference.

    This is a very serious allegation if it comes under that label.

    The rep is incorrect in my view.

    A safeguarding issue would need to be in a school's records.

    And moreover, any reference written by the school would have to mention this, because otherwise it would not meet the legal requirements for a reference to be fair and factually accurate. If there is omission of important information - and a safeguarding concern most certainly comes into this category - the school would be in serious trouble.

    Do read this while you are considering a Settlement Agreement, although I am surprised that a school would offer this in a safeguarding issue.

    Settlement Agreements

    My post is of little or no consolation to you, I know, and I am sorry for that.

    Keep strong for the sake of your wife and the baby.

  19. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    I'd just add one point - if you are not happy with the advice being given by your Union rep, either go higher or consider ditching the union and getting your own specialist employment lawyer. That would be expensive, but might be the only way to save your career (following the information given by Theo above re: references).
    pepper5 likes this.
  20. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Many house insurance policies have in the small print the possibility of legal support in a dispute with your employer.

    However you should note that if you do contract a lawyer, your union will withdraw entirely.

    TheaPine and GLsghost like this.

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