Gross Misconduct And Universal Credit

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EllieJP | 06:23 Thu 17th Jun 2021 | Jobs & Education
43 Answers
I was let go from my job for failing to turn up to a disciplinary I knew nothing about, (I’ve been away from home for about 6 weeks due to my Nan being discharged from hospital on palliative care and my grandfather unable to cope on his own)
In that time I received 2 letters from my employer, one about a meeting to discuss my absence from work since Feb 2020.
My first absences in February I informed them of (or so I thought) was by advertising my shifts as I was unable to do them. I later found out that that’s not how it works.. someone has to accept the advertisements. (These we’re all due to lack of child care which was completely out of my control and nothing I could do)
Come March, I was furloughed until September as I was told by my Store Manager.
I had a phone call in august to ask why I hadn’t turned up to a shift. I explained that I was told I was furloughed until September as that’s when schools were going back and I remember it working out in favour of schools going back. So I had no idea about this shift.

I next heard from them (after being given no shifts) a couple of months later, I received a letter regarding my absence) I had no shifts to turn up to, it was my assumption that because Universities were still at home that there just wasn’t any shifts available to me.
I spoke to the people manager who arranged a sit down chat with one of the deputy managers for me.
Which I attended and all was well.
I explained that my partner works 4 on 4 off and constant nights so I couldn’t have a set shift pattern. He advised me to email the store my availability which I did.
I didn’t hear anything back from them so I called the store to be told that the deputy manager I sent the availability to (who also did the Rota’s) was on holiday.. I wasn’t sure if this was for a week or two. But still.. I never heard back. Then lockdown happened again, schools off.
I didn’t hear anything from them at all during this time and I assumed that was because they’re aware that if my child is off that I’m unable to work. That takes us up to and including March this year..

Next I hear from the store manager, asking how I was and so on.. anything they can do to help.. again I explained about the 4 on 4 off.. He said it’s probably best to send us your availability again.

So I did..
And once again, I heard nothing.

Then we found out that my Nan had very advanced cancer all over. She was released from hospital on palliative care but my grandfather was unable to cope being elderly and disabled himself so I temporarily moved in with them.
During this 5 week period, (that I didn’t return home) I was delivered 2 letters from my employer again, one about a chat.. the second about a disciplinary. I attended neither as they chose to only inform me of these via post.. no email or phone call.
They conducted the meetings without me, and the disciplinary resulted in my termination of employment.
This was on 2/6/21..
I returned home after her funeral on 5/6/21 when this had already happened.

So my main question is.. During may last year, I applied for universal credit. I’ve informed them of my change in circumstances albeit later than I should have.. you’re supposed to inform them within 5 days (which I wasn’t aware of but I am awaiting results of my appeal so I’m hoping they don’t change but felt it best to let them know)
My worry is that they’re saying I’ve been absent since February last year! Which doesn’t seem fair or true given everything that’s gone off with furlough etc..
I’m now petrified about what’s going to happen with them saying I’ve been absent since Feb last year! Will they stop my UC? Or worse try and claim it back? I’m just so lost., I’ve never claimed before.. and I just don’t know what to do!
Please help!


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Definitive answer: Go into your UC Journal and leave a note saying that you were dismissed, without your knowledge, for GM on 2nd June and that you have started an appeal with your Employers and will update as soon as you hear anything. The UC department may contact you through your journal for clarification at a later date but you have precious little reason to...
13:40 Thu 17th Jun 2021
Question Author
I should point out, I realise there was a major lack of communication on my part, I should have informed them. But I seriously struggle talking to people, even if it’s to help me.. it doesn’t matter what it’s for.. I wish I had a better way of explaining. Just thinking about it gives me hot sweats!
I’m just worried about the repercussions of my actions now.. or rather lack of…
Hope someone can help. It's a bit long.
Question Author
I know, I tried to fit everything in though. I’m waiting to hear back from my work coach online but it’s not a fast process.
Are you a member of a union? My first thought is to contact them immediately.
Question Author
Unfortunately I’m not.
If you were recieving furlough you were still an employee during that period.
I assume you are in the UK.

How long have you worked for the employer? If it is less than two years, I don't think you can do very much.

ACAS is a very useful site for information regarding HR matters.

I know it can be hard, but you need to keep the communication channels open.

Lastly, I dislike the term "I was let go", It is becoming more and more used, and for me it means allowed to leave. You were dismissed.
Question Author
This is what I thought, from what I gathered during the first meeting we had last year we established why I was absent in February. The rest was furlough.. I think they’re just being awkward with me.. I never really fit in with them..
Always made me feel like an outsider..
I feel so defeated right now… I can’t eat or sleep because of all the worrying!
Question Author
Dismissed yes, I’m sorry.
It has been over 2 years but never consistently had hours with them. It’s always been the same.
The joys of zero hour contracts..
it’s the fact they’re saying my absence is from February last year that’s really getting to me.
My wife works in the DWP UC department.
I have read out your post but it is a bit too garbled for us to understand - too may 'theys' and it is difficult to know whether you mean your employers or UC.
Forgetting most of the post you have already written, please concentrate on what it is you think you may have done 'wrong' with regards to your claim for UC and I will ask Mrs JtH for her input .
Don't panic.
Question Author
I’m sorry it’s garbled! I’m just so stressed out right now.
I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong with regards to UC.. I updated my claim to say I’m no longer in employment.
I haven’t actually worked a shift since since February last year, my claim started in may of last year. My previous employer is saying that I have had unauthorised absences since that date. Which isn’t true. I’ve been furloughed until September.. Plus my child has been off school (I’m not an essential worker) and no shifts have actually scheduled for me which I believed was down to Uni students still not being back so taking the available shifts.
Complete lack of communication on both of our parts.. I’ve sent an appeal letter but I’ve yet to hear back.
Anything your wife can advise would be amazing as I’m pulling my hair out with worry!
Thank you!
To whom have you appealed and why?
Question Author
To my previous employer, as I wasn’t aware I had a meeting about a disciplinary. I’ve been staying with my grandparents while my Nan was discharged from hospital as my grandfather couldn’t cope on his own.. she passed away and we had her funeral and I returned home to find if missed these meetings.
When you signed up for UC in May last year did you inform them you were employed?

Did you agree work commitments?

When you say you were 'furloughed', were you receiving furlough payments from your employer?
Question Author
Yes, because I was employed. And I was receiving furlough payments. I agreed to the work commitments.
Hopefully JtH's wife will be able to provide some expertise but as I understand it:

UC takes into account what your employer is paying you so presumably any UC you received is/was adjusted to take account of those furlough payments.

I don't see that 'absent since last February' has any relevance in that case.
Question Author
Thank you Chinajan,

I’m hoping so, I just feel like my employer have put me in an awful situation saying I’ve been absent for so long which is clearly not the case!
I really hope JtH’s wife can help too, this site is amazing.. So much knowledge.
i am confused - you say it's clearly not the case, but it is the case you have not worked any shift for them since february (by what you say)
Do you have anything in writing aout being furloughed till september? That could help
Question Author
I haven’t, but my place of work was closed and no staff worked at all. My pay slips all stated furlough payment.
If you look at your monthly payment advices from UC they should state the breakdown of whatever you received. You should be able to see the furlough payments as a deduction from UC amount due for the month.

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