Quantcast

Advice sought about possible tribunal

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Vormulac

Established Member
Joined
10 Oct 2004
Messages
1,217
Reaction score
0
Location
Uxbridge, West London
I am wondering if I have a case to bring against our HR department for harassment.

Early last year I found out that the Agency I work for (I’m a civil servant) offers an advance on our salary to pay for travel cards – I do a London commute so it’s an expensive business and this sounded like a fine plan. It took a couple of months to arrange but the money came through, to be paid back in 12 equal instalments – removed from my wages at source, nice and easy.
Around that time we were trying to move house, but it had been a long and drawn out process with stops and starts, collapsing chains and all sorts but eventually we managed to move from a house in Zone 5 to a house in Zone 6. I decided against buying a travelcard straight away as I didn’t know which Zone I was going to be living in! The loan was for the purchase of a Zones 1-5 travelcard, but I didn’t want to buy one in case the move went through and I ended up having to pay an extra amount every journey, nor did I want to pay the extra on top to get a 1-6 travelcard because it would be a waste of money for however long I was still living in Zone 5.

Anyway, the move went ahead, not the least stressful activity in the world, and almost immediately afterwards I was hospitalised with a severe bacterial infection in my leg (cellulitis) and during this whole time my back was pretty bad too (I have a prolapsed disc). Funnily enough, my thoughts during this time were not of my travel arrangements and I forgot all about it.

I received an email from a lady in Finance in November asking for a photocopy of the travelcard for auditing purposes. I replied explaining that I didn’t have the travelcard and why and she asked me to pay back the remaining balance of the loan immediately. It was a month before Christmas and it cleared out all my savings but naturally I did so.

Three times since then; April, May and now this week my manager has informed me that I am being investigated by HR over this matter. He’s a practical and reasonable man and knows the reasons involved and each time we’ve explained what happened and it’s gone away (last time I even had to send a copy of the solicitor’s completion letter proving I actually *had* moved house!). Well, this week I was informed that this matter has been taken forward to an investigative hearing! The HR lady responsible for all these accusations is meeting with my manager, in the presence of a senior HR manager – and in my absence to discuss this. I have never been accused of misconduct or had my integrity questioned in my life and I have officially had a sense of humour failure about this now. I’m supposed to be coding two very complex reports today, but funnily enough I can’t really concentrate. They appear to be accusing me of accepting a loan… and then paying it back in full!

This HR lady is the same one that sat on my Occupational Health report for six months meaning I didn’t get my orthopaedic chair – leading to another relapse of spinal problems, I don’t know enough about how HR ‘works’ to know if this is the actions of the department as a whole, truly incomprehensible incompetance or a purely personal witch-hunt against me by this woman I’ve never even met!

Does anyone have any experience of this sort of thing?

Cheers

A very downcast Vormulac.
 

Paul Chapman

Established Member
Joined
26 Jan 2006
Messages
8,657
Reaction score
0
Location
Bookham, Surrey
What I think you should have done is to have telephoned HR and explained the delays in your house move and asked whether it was OK to hold on to the loan and not purchase your ticket with it until your house move was completed. That way you would have avoided all these problems.

Cheers :wink:

Paul
 

Logos

Established Member
Joined
15 Dec 2010
Messages
20
Reaction score
0
Location
Maldon, Essex
Hi Vormulac

Investigation is not the same as disciplinary and although it may lead to this process at this stage it amounts to nothing more than evaluation of the situation. The best course of action is to, first of all, have a look at your employer' disciplinary policy to find out whether or not the delay in dealing with the matter amounts to misconduct. If it doesn't then the matter should stop there. If it possibly does, then it would be best if you could get together all the appropriate documentation (eg hospital records, GP letters, solicitors' letters and so on) in order to built a complete chronological history of the events. In this way you will be prepared for a possible disciplinary hearing.

Harassment is a pretty strong accusation within the workplace environment and should only be used when there is supporting evidence to this effect. Instead of going down this route, it would be preferable to sit tight for a little whilt to see what the outcome of the discussions is. If you see that the pestering continues then perhaps you can file a grievance in accordance with the procedures set out by your employers in the employers' grievance policy.

From your version of the events it is very difficult to see how you could file a claim with the Employment Tribunal (I presume that's what you mean when you say Tribunal) without any additional grounds (eg under the Equality Act or another statutory provision as applicable). Sometimes the best way forward is to hold your nerve and allow for matters to take their course. You need to appreciate that there is always another side to the coin and it could be that the over-keen lady in the HR department is considering your actions purely from the point of view that you obtained an interest free loan for other purposes rather than the permitted one. I'm not suggesting that you did but merely that there is another point of view.

I hope that the above help.

Regards

Logos
 

kmcleod

Established Member
Joined
3 Jul 2007
Messages
157
Reaction score
0
Why not sit down with your manager and ask what the process is for making a complaint internally ?

If you go to a tribunal the first thing they will ask is whether you followed the normal grievance process, so you need to get that out of the way, and that should flag up to HR that this matter needs to be laid to rest once and for all.
 

thomvic

Established Member
Joined
6 Oct 2008
Messages
441
Reaction score
0
Location
North Staffordshire
There is a saying "Cheer up, it might never happen!" I think it is particularly appropriate in your position. I don't think that you are being harassed at all. The lady is almost certianly doing what is required of her - investigating - and I doubt that there will be any proceedings when she has completed her investigations. Surely nothing to be downcast about. If you are still worried about it then why not refer the matter to your union? That's what it is there for. Good luck and keep your chin up.

Richard
 

misterfish

Established Member
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
1,517
Reaction score
1
Location
Chichester, West Sussex
Do you have a Welfare department. I worked for the MOD and for many years was the Welfare IT manager and worked alongside Welfare Officers. Although the aim was to get people fit and back to work, the Welfare Officers could be approached privately by any member of staff and would look at any situation - such as arbitrary refusals to provide necessary equipment like your chair.

The other thing to think about is Union representation.

You need to know what they are investigating and what you are being accused of AND you need to have someone that knows how the system works and can
provide practical support or act as your advocate.

IF this does end up as a disciplinary hearing you should not muddle through alone.

I assume your line manager and second reporting officer will have been asked for reports - if you get on well with your LM then ask them to see if they can find out any more.

Misterfish
 

bugbear

Established Member
Joined
16 Jul 2004
Messages
13,074
Reaction score
0
Location
North Suffolk
Logos":39l53flm said:
You need to appreciate that there is always another side to the coin and it could be that the over-keen lady in the HR department is considering your actions purely from the point of view that you obtained an interest free loan for other purposes rather than the permitted one. I'm not suggesting that you did but merely that there is another point of view.
It is possible that the accounts department was filling in paperwork for the loan, and discovered that "conditions on the ground" weren't right.

Given the fear and terror HMRC put into such departments, checking up would definely ensue.

BugBear
 

Sawyer

Established Member
Joined
7 May 2011
Messages
581
Reaction score
0
Location
France
A good example of why unions are so important. In your case, PCS is probably the best bet: I'd contact your local rep. asap.
 

Jensmith

Established Member
Joined
19 Aug 2010
Messages
1,029
Reaction score
0
Location
Cheshire
I had a colleague who's wife was going through all sorts of trouble at work relating to maternity leave and her hours. I'm not going into details but in her case, although she was in the right, the union was useless. Wasn't interested and didn't back her up in meetings so I wouldn't be so sure going to a union is the answer. They let her down big time.
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
3,596
Reaction score
142
Location
Matching Green
I'm not saying they are dealing with the situation very well, but you had a loan for nearly the full year (early in the year to Novemeber) and never used it for it's purpose, surely as other have stated, you carry some responsibility for the muddle you are in?
I'd be a bit annoyed if one of my guys asked for a loan for a specific purpose and then found out it had never been used for said purpose.
 

wobblycogs

Established Member
Joined
30 Aug 2009
Messages
1,158
Reaction score
0
Location
Gloucester
It's a tough break but I don't think you've got a case to harassment as they appear to be doing what they should do in this situation - investigating the circumstances to see if anything nefarious was going on.

From what you say you should, strictly speaking, have used the loan to buy a travel card and I imagine there is a time limit for when that transaction has to be completed by or the loan returned. You have some unusual circumstances though and if there is any scope for common sense I'm sure that the whole matter will just be forgotten as it doesn't seem to be in anybodies interest to pursue the matter. Worst case I suppose it could end with a warning for breaking the terms of the loan but I'd be really surprised if it came to that.

Good luck, stay cool.
 

Lons

Established Member
Joined
14 Feb 2010
Messages
7,245
Reaction score
70
Location
Northumberland
Hi Vormulac

I think you would have everyones sympathy but very much doubt you have a leg to stand on if you accuse them of harassment.
Reading between the lines, it appears you may have determined this HR woman is out to get you, (your comment re the O/h report delay). She may or may not be. Possibly depends on what was saidat the time or if you complained about her officially.
HR probably haven't handled the situation well or with a caring attitude but they will be doing exactly what they are required to do in the circumstances and following a set procedure.

The loan would I assume have been for a sizeable sum and the conditions of that loan clearly outlined at the time you agreed to the terms. Company loans are carefully scrutinised by the Inland Revenue and though your circumstances are a genuine mitigation, you still are culpable and it was your responsibility to communicate with your company at the time. Illness is no excuse unfortunately and a reason unlikely to be accepted.

As said, you should prepare all the information for your defence if required but I would think it unlikely you would be accused of anything more than a minor breach of terms as long as you can prove your case.

Cheer up - you'll be OK

Bob
 

Vormulac

Established Member
Joined
10 Oct 2004
Messages
1,217
Reaction score
0
Location
Uxbridge, West London
doctor Bob":1z2s0jud said:
I'm not saying they are dealing with the situation very well, but you had a loan for nearly the full year (early in the year to Novemeber) and never used it for it's purpose, surely as other have stated, you carry some responsibility for the muddle you are in?
I'd be a bit annoyed if one of my guys asked for a loan for a specific purpose and then found out it had never been used for said purpose.
Nope, it started coming out of my salery in twelve equal installments the month after I received it. By the time they asked about it the majority of it had already been paid back, they asked for the balance and I paid it back immediately.
 

Vormulac

Established Member
Joined
10 Oct 2004
Messages
1,217
Reaction score
0
Location
Uxbridge, West London
As for what Lons said, that may well be a factor, speaking to someone at the Agency yesterday they said that the Agency could have broken tax laws by not auditing the process sooner and checking that the loan had been used as intended. Certainly if they had come to me six weeks after the loan was received and asked about it I would have gone straight online and bought the ticket, but it looks like they might be using me as a convenient scapegoat to cover their discrepancy. Obviously that's purely supposition, but it might explain why a long serving employee with a spotless record is being hung out to dry in this fashion.
 

Paul Chapman

Established Member
Joined
26 Jan 2006
Messages
8,657
Reaction score
0
Location
Bookham, Surrey
Vormulac":3qpudapi said:
doctor Bob":3qpudapi said:
I'm not saying they are dealing with the situation very well, but you had a loan for nearly the full year (early in the year to Novemeber) and never used it for it's purpose, surely as other have stated, you carry some responsibility for the muddle you are in?
I'd be a bit annoyed if one of my guys asked for a loan for a specific purpose and then found out it had never been used for said purpose.
Nope, it started coming out of my salery in twelve equal installments the month after I received it. By the time they asked about it the majority of it had already been paid back, they asked for the balance and I paid it back immediately.
The issue is not whether you paid back the loan but that you accepted the loan for a specific purpose and then did not use it for that purpose. There are strict rules about these loans (not least of which are those imposed by HM Revenue & Customs) which would have been made clear to you at the time.

I wouldn't worry too much - it will sort itself out in due course.

Cheers :wink:

Paul
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
3,596
Reaction score
142
Location
Matching Green
Vormulac":3s17w8n4 said:
doctor Bob":3s17w8n4 said:
I'm not saying they are dealing with the situation very well, but you had a loan for nearly the full year (early in the year to Novemeber) and never used it for it's purpose, surely as other have stated, you carry some responsibility for the muddle you are in?
I'd be a bit annoyed if one of my guys asked for a loan for a specific purpose and then found out it had never been used for said purpose.
Nope, it started coming out of my salery in twelve equal installments the month after I received it. By the time they asked about it the majority of it had already been paid back, they asked for the balance and I paid it back immediately.
yes but you had a loan for travel expenses and never used it for that reason, you in effect took money from the company and repaid it back over a period of time. I appreciate that there are reasons for this, but you have to look at both sides.
 
Top