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Unlawful deductions

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by shopaholicannon, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. shopaholicannon

    shopaholicannon New commenter


    I was wondering if anyone else had experienced anything quite like this: I started a new position in September of this year, and even before the start of my contract, I was experiencing bullying from my HOD. It got to the point where I had to avoid her in order to survive each day. She was aggressive, intimidating and would tell me off in front of students for anything and everything, once even for smiling! I brought this to the line-manager's attention, in this case also the Head. Not much was done, a 'mediation' meeting, in which the 'mediator' (a deputy Head, very good friends with the HOD) could not control the HOD, and all that was accomplished through it was my being granted access to resources. The bullying issue was not even referred to. In fact, I was told off by the mediator for using 'strong terminology' when I stated I felt intimidated.

    The situation only deteriorated after that. During later meetings with the Head, I was told that I she did not think there was more to resolve, and that if I was not comfortable, I should leave. Understandably, I was taken aback, and asked how this would affect me for future applications, and the Head responded: so long as you do not take out a formal grievance, I needn't worry. Even the union rep within school did not think things would improve if I decided to stay on. Needless to say, I handed in my resignation.

    I was signed off sick for a few weeks by my doctor as the situation was seriously affecting me. The school wrote to me saying I had to send cover every day over the weeks I was away or I'd be in breech of my contract. (Only later on did my union tell me I was not expected to). Last week, they disabled all access to my email and files, and have refused to restore access. The union did not help. They have now deducted several hundred pounds from my wages to cover the cost of two books I have in my possession, which I have already told them they will have back before the end of my contract. The union did not help, and have still not assisted me. I contacted ACAS, who said this was clearly unlawful deduction, and I informed the school to this effect. The school have turned around saying that ACAS is wrong, and have used the ambiguous terminology on the contract to further their argument.

    I am off sick to reduce the stress levels caused by the bullying in that school, and they still continue to make life stressful for me by this highly inappropriate and unusual behaviour. My union has not helped one bit, I'm at my wits end, any help will be appreciated. Its sad that the school will get away with this behaviour. Is there any way I can expose them?
  2. As you've decided to leave you need to be sorting out your goods and chattels and giving back / getting back your bits and pieces. But your bad mad sad employers are being hasty and simply extending the bullying.
    Your union should be dealing with this - contact regional office as a matter of urgency and get the help you've paid your subs for.
    You don't say whether this is an independent school, new free school or bog standard state-run. The last type is the easiest to 'get at' as complaints can be made through the local authority.
    You're union is letting you down by not spearheading this, but first off is a factual letter informing the head that improper deductions have been made and immediate refund is expected.
    Bear in mind that this mad person is going to go off on one at any form of contact. That needn't bother you now as you don't have to deal with her/him. But just so you know.
    If you don't have your money or a response within 5 working days the next step will be to write to the governing body of the school (and the LA if appropriate) describing the situation and telling them what legal steps will ow take place to recover your costs. Your union should be doing this.
    And the last step will be for your legal reps to send in bailiffs to recover goods to the amount.

    But....in hell's name, which subject has 2 books costing hundreds of pounds? It must surely be a medical school....

    It is appalling to hear ONCE AGAIN of a teaching union abandoning its paid member.
  3. 2r2e

    2r2e New commenter

    Feel for you but it's difficult to comment on how you can 'expose them' when only one version of events is presented. I've never worked in a school where there has ever been any bullying or intimidation so that is perhaps why it's difficult for me to imagine what it's like, or to avoid the questions that pop into my head about whether the circumstances are precisely as you present them. I just can't imagine a Head and a union both failing to act if there was a case to answer, but as I said, that might be because I haven't been in that situation or seen it. The deductions issue is one that is much clearer cut and your union should be able to clarify any misunderstanding your school has over the legality of their actions. but surely the sum involved can't be for just 2 books? Hope it works out all right.
  4. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Contact your union at headquarter level and tell them they need to support you. You can see an employment solicitor usually for a free half hour visit and you could then pay them to write a letter. This may make the school realise you mean business. Ask about references although your union should have sorted this out prior to your resignation.
  5. neli

    neli Occasional commenter

    Which Union was this?
    Hope you are ok, you sound like you are fighting a good fight there but it was the Union who should have been fighting it for you x


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