The employee (the home’s head cook) had over 20 years’ service so any dismissal would have to be watertight and the evidence was mostly hearsay.
There was a history with this employee. In 2012 she had been suspended for about a year for very similar allegations. Despite several hearings taking place, the matter was never concluded, and she returned to work with no sanctions against her.
The manager left around the time she returned, and she believed they had been sacked for what they had tried to do to her. That was not the case, but she then felt totally exonerated.
The next Manager to run the home strongly suspected that the employees’ family were taking food home, but nothing was ever done about it. It also came out during the investigation process that at some point she was given permission to take home leftovers which she said she was making into baby food for her grandchildren.
We advised this was not a safe dismissal given the length of service and history of such behaviour having gone unchallenged, however it was clear that staff would leave if she came back as they feared reprisals.
The financial costs of losing staff if she stayed or defending the inevitable tribunal claim if she was dismissed would have seriously damaged the prospects of the care home. It was our recommendation to approach the employee’s union rep and reach a settlement agreement. We facilitated that process and got a settlement of approx. 10% what it could have cost our client had they dismissed her and had to fight a Tribunal.
The money spent on food and the level of wastage both reduced significantly more than repaid the cost of the settlement. Also, once this employee had gone and residents and relatives’ comments on the quantity and quality of meals improved significantly, it was also noted that the weight of vulnerable residents increased. A very positive outcome for the residents (most importantly), employees and the Home as it was now clear that the allegations were true.
The employee was an experienced nurse who had previously worked in a hospital A and E dept. The Nurse Manager had met with her and extended her probation as her general level of knowledge and competency were deemed lacking. After 6 months with lots of support, things were not improving so we arranged a disciplinary hearing which we chaired. The Nurse was to be accompanied by a rep from the RCN. She had asked for a delay to be able to get a rep and we had refused to extend the delay beyond the statutory 1 week limit so the union rep had to cancel a holiday to attend. The rep asked for time with his member before we started the meeting and then asked to speak to us and the Nurse manager. He asked us if we would be willing to accept her resignation with immediate effect and if we would write a brief factual reference for her. This was the best possible outcome for all concerned.
One of our clients had a member of staff who went on maternity in 2019 she opted to take the full maternity leave allowances. In January 2020 she decided to take her new child to meet relatives in China. The city that they lived in was Wuhan and it should come as no surprise that that’s just when the difficulties started.
They were immediately locked down in China and couldn’t return to the UK in order to restart her employment. We worked with their employer to set up taking holidays that she had accrued during a maternity leave and then put her on furlough during her period in China. She is finally returned to the UK in September and is now undergoing training where she will be able to return to work fully for our client.
The complications created by rules relating to maternity, furlough and business changes made this one of the most difficult maternity leave cases we’ve ever dealt with.
Sometimes challenges come all at once. We helped a company that was having to completely re-tool, as the products they were making were no longer in demand because the cost of production outstripped what people were prepared to pay for it. They had a good business plan for a new product but needed a different skills and different numbers of staff in order to produce it profitably. They entered a full redundancy exercise with our support, with all the employees and looked at which employees could be retained through training and re-skilling. At the same time, for what was a relatively small fee, we retained the services of financial advisor and an outplacement specialist so that those staff who were being made redundant were able to a utilise their redundancy pay responsibly and stand a better chance of getting another job.
These are difficult times, and nobody is underestimating how hard it will be for people who have been made redundant but if, you offer some assistance to your employees and you are honest with them from the outset you are far more likely to reach solution where the business can survive, and the employees can move on. The key to any situation like this is to move from a position where you are regretting about what happened in the past to a position where you’re working towards what will happen in the future.
In this case out of the 250 employees that would have lost their jobs if the business had closed 180 were retained in new jobs.
Our client had previously sought advice from a large HR consultancy and advised that they could dismiss the employee only to be later told that they would not be covered for legal costs if a claim was made to an employment tribunal because of some minor procedural error.
Our assessment of the case was that the cost of representation would probably be twice what the employee could win at an employment tribunal. The employee had appealed the case and came to the meeting with his father who was a solicitor.
We conducted the hearing on behalf of this new client and persuaded him (and his father) that a modest settlement fee was both the cheapest option and the one that came to the most rapid solution.
HR services that insure you for legal expensive area always prone to give advice that protects the insurance scheme, not your business.