Off with his head!

News on 30 August 2019

The background

Elinor is having a bad day and seems to be channelling the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. She wants to sack someone right now, this second, immediately, and all the other ways of saying ‘today’. So, she gives us a call to ask us how this can be done.

Timmy has been nightmare for quite a long time, and he’s just constantly causing her problems. He’s already got a live disciplinary warning on his file for his conduct. Today he’s tipped the scales and has allegedly hit one of his colleagues in the face.

Off with his head!

The big question is “can we sack Timmy today?”. The first thing we asked her was how long Timmy has been employed. Timmy’s been there for about 5 years. Due to his length of service, we advise Elinor that she will need to follow the Company’s disciplinary process to deal with Timmy.

Our second question is about whether Timmy needs to be suspended from work. Now, it turns out that Timmy punched Andrew in the face during an argument in the yard, which took place in front of quite a few people. Timmy is known for being a big character and some people can find him intimidating and won’t say anything to Elinor about what he’s done wrong as they are worried what he will do to them. Because of this, and the potential that he could have another pop at Andrew, we agree that Elinor should suspend him.

She calls Timmy into a meeting and informs him that he’s being suspended, the reasons why this is being done, that he will receive his normal pay during the time he’s suspended, and informs him not to contact anyone from work or come to any work premises unless she’s told him to.

Now that Timmy is off site, Elinor starts her investigation into what happened. Andrew is called in for a meeting, makes sure that he’s ok and has received any medical attention he needs, and he’s asked to give his statement about what happened. She also asks him who else was there at the time the incident took place. Andrew tells her that Charlotte, Dave, and Howard were there when this happened. As these people have been named, Elinor knows that she needs to speak to them too.

Meetings are arranged with the 3 potential witnesses and Elinor takes their statements; 2 of them confirmed that Andrew’s version of events is right. Yes, him and Timmy had a disagreement, but there was nothing Andrew did to cause Timmy to hit him. However, Charlotte says that she wasn’t really paying attention as she was working on something, so only saw Timmy hit Andrew and nothing before that point.

What next?

When Elinor finishes her investigation, she gets all of the evidence together and reviews it. She asks herself whether there is enough evidence there to show that Timmy would need to have disciplinary action taken against him. As she believes that this is the right thing to do, she passes this to her manager, Asif.

Asif then invites Timmy to a disciplinary hearing, gives him enough notice of the meeting, sends him copies of the investigation notes, and gives him the right to be accompanied to the meeting. During the disciplinary hearing Timmy admits that he did punch Andrew in the face, but states that Andrew provoked him. Asif goes through the witness statements with Timmy asking him more questions around what happened. Timmy answers the questions Asif asks him, but Asif has noticed that Timmy keeps changing his story.

The outcome

Asif spends time reviewing the evidence that he has available to him. He reads over the notes from the disciplinary hearing for the last time and he’s made up his mind. Unfortunately, he feels that Timmy should be dismissed for what he’s done – he’s assaulted a colleague. Asif writes a letter to Timmy to confirm that he’s been dismissed. The letter gives Timmy the full reasons why Asif believes that this is the right course of action. It also informs him of his right to appeal if he’s not happy.

Timmy’s reaction

As you can imagine, Timmy’s not too pleased with losing his job. In his opinion this is a really harsh outcome for the first time he’s ever been disciplined. Timmy decides to appeal the outcome, stating that it’s too harsh and that he’s been a good employee.

The appeal

Elinor and Asif have already been involved so far, so this leaves Natalia to conduct the appeal meeting. During the meeting Timmy tells Natalia the same story that he told Asif, but this time states that the decision was too harsh because he’s been a good employee for 5 years. After the meeting, Natalia reviews all the evidence available to her. In the outcome letter to Timmy she informs him that the original decision is upheld, that he’s not given her any new information, and reminds him that before this incident he already had a live warning on his file for his conduct.

Is there anything else to do?

From a Company perspective, no there’s nothing else to do. Once an appeal has taken place, that’s the last stage in the internal process. Luckily for Natalia, her managers are well trained and have HR help. They know that the most important thing to do in a situation like this is to follow the Company processes. While they can be a bit frustrating at times and make you feel like you’re in Crufts jumping through the hoops, they are there to protect the Company.

What does this mean for Timmy? Well, it means that if Timmy still isn’t happy, then he will need to contact ACAS. They would be able to advise him and discuss any tribunal claim that he wanted to submit.

If you have a Timmy in your employment and you’re not sure how to deal with him, just give us a call!