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Staff member on Holiday without permission

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by whiskyforme, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. whiskyforme

    whiskyforme New commenter

    Before Easter I received a request from a member of staff for time off work as she was about to book a holiday which meant she should return to work two days after after everyone else. (Wednesday instead of Monday).

    I referred her to the leave of absence policy which refers to special circumstances. as none were given permission was not granted, I suggested that if she disagreed with my decision she should write to the Chair of govs. He also did not give permission.

    alas today she did not return to work. and told other staff members she was having the holiday anyway.

    Question - upon her return to work should it be ........

    Suspension then dismissal (pending the investigation) ....
    or....
    Written warning (pending the investigation)?

    I think the governors disciplinary panel should move towards dismissal but is this too heavy handed?
     
  2. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    While I understand and totally agree with your feeling for someone with such disregard for their employer, I fear if you go in too heavy handed that member of staff will either cry 'sick' and acquire a doctors note, or cite mitigating circumstances, either themselves or more likely through a union. You will have to follow your disciplinary policy carefully to avoid any throw back, commencing with the allegation and investigation into misconduct. If you have valid and concrete evidence that they are on holiday, you could go for a suspension pending the investigation. Do let us know how this pans out. What a muppet of staff member!
     
  3. I agree with Daisylot. Certainly they should be suspended and an investigation must follow in accordance with your published procedures. If in doubt take advice from your LA HR people. Don't fear any union involvement. If you are following procedures with advice from HR you will be on firm ground.
     
  4. I agree with the above. First step should be your HR advisor, and I imagine the advice would be suspension pending an investigation.
     
  5. Was there any reason why this member of staff could not have been given the two days off maybe if it could have been unpaid leave.
    So you suspend them what next? How long will this take? How much will it cost? Will there be a negative impact on staff morale? How much time will it take up? Are you put out because they dared to challenge your authority?
    Personally it should never have got to this.
     
  6. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    Because it sets a precedent? Because the teacher should be able to book holidays on one of many days they are not in school?
    How about because they breached their contract by not turning up to work?
    I agree. The teacher should have turned up on one of the 194 days that they were contractually obliged to be in school.
     
  7. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Couldn't agree more.
     
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    whiskyforme, I regularly chair governors disciplinary panels, so a few comments.
    It's important that you don't assume the reason for the staff member's absence before you have carried out a formal disciplinary investigation and considered the employee's explanation and other evidence. At the moment all you have as fact is that the staff member is absent when they should be present. You need to investigate impartially, gather the evidence and then decide what to do (with HR advice and following whatever your own policies say). If you are satisfied that there is evidence of misconduct follow your procedure. Absent without permission or refusal to follow a management instruction could both be gross misconduct justifying dismissal depending on the circumstances.
    She may have "told other staff members she was having the holiday anyway" but that will not be valid evidence for your decision unless those staff mebers are willing to make a written statement to that effect. If i were you I'd get those statements asap.
    Whether to suspend is trickier. Your own policy may give guidance but if not it's not obvious suspension would be appropriate in this case. Acas recommends suspension where working relationships have broken down or there is a risk that evidence may be tampered with. It is normally also sensible to suspend the employee where the allegation is a very serious one that may amount to gross misconduct and result in dismissal. If the employee is allowed to continue working during the investigation, the seriousness of the allegation may well be challenged at a later stage, however, periods of suspension should be as short as possible as delays may make an otherwise fair dismissal unfair. You will have to decide whether this case falls within the guidelines for suspension.
     
  9. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I am startled by this response! I can't imagine that a colleague buggiring off on holiday in term time, with or without leave granted does much for staff morale! There are 170 days in the year that they can go on holiday after all.... zesh.
     
  10. whiskyforme

    whiskyforme New commenter

    Thank you all for your comments, (with the exception of mrszzz) very constructive especially RottWeiler a wise lady/man.

    Yes, despite hearsay, evidence must be gathered and procedures followed irrespective to how I feel, I must remain impartial.


    In a sense mrszzz is correct I am affronted that authority has been challenged, not necessarily my authority but the established authority of leadership. Without disciplinary action, my authority as head teacher would be undermined, the hard work and commitment of all the other teachers will also be undermined. Without action I believe morale of everyone else will suffer as they see people 'getting away with things.'

    Tomorrow comes and we all have choices to make.
     
  11. I had a member of staff who took 2 days off to move house when 1 had been authorised. She failed to turn up the day after, and then swanned in on day 3 saying it took longer than she thought.
    I had a formal meeting with her and told her it was unacceptable therefore her leave of absence form sent to LA would say 'not authorised'. She would lose the day's pay and I was giving her a formal warning that it must never happen again. She accepted the 'telling off' and was mortified. Has been as good as gold every since. Also sent out a message to the rest of the staff.
    We had a problem with lots of time off by several staff so now ask for all requests on an official leave of absence form. We also gave staff an abbreviated absence policy out stating what would be authorised / paid etc. Now it's clear for everyone
     
  12. Seriously?
     
  13. Sounds a v reasonable and proportionate response.
    In the case outlined in the OP, presumably if sickness is claimed then you have very little option but to accept it. The hear say of colleagues doesn't amount to a pile of beans and doesn't prove the teacher wasn't subsequently ill...

     
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Exactly the right sort of thing to have.
    They fill in the form, you agree or don't (possibly with some discussion/explanation), you give a copy back to them, a copy to their line manager, a copy to their staff file.
    Clear and fair.
    Best wishes
    _______________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    For the full TES Weekend Workshop programme please visit www.tes.co.uk/careerseminars or contact advice@tes.co.uk for one-to-one sessions.
     
  15. 'Swanned in' ! No predjudice there then!
    BTW The original post...the holidaying teacher is taking the pish! I am no fan of authority, but in this case the procedures must be followed exactly, and the headteacher must come down hard on them if proven. The reason is the signal it will give to others.
     
  16. Sound advice and just to add that you could consider having someone else (e.g. from your HR support service) carry out the investigation. No reason why you must not do it yourself but someone external can often be seen to give greater impartiality.

    As others have said, key is to follow your policy and procedure.
     
  17. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I'm not a headteacher but would like to say, as a "normal" staff member, that I would feel very disillusioned if one of my colleagues defied my head's authority in such a way and nothing happened. As you said, action needs to be taken, otherwise it sets a precedent.

     
  18. 2004ajd

    2004ajd New commenter

    Is this for real? I've never read such nonsense!
     
  19. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    it's the posters first post, so I doubt very much if it's genuine.
     
  20. I note this poster is located abroad. At least, then, there is little chance of his/her appalling spelling and literacy skills being inflicted upon our children.
     

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