Employment Law Query

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buffymad | 17:07 Wed 10th Jan 2018 | Law
23 Answers
My other half has received a letter from his company saying "following a review of the standard of service presently being achieved by the [company name] at [shopping centre name], it has become necessary to change the structure of resources on site".
He has been invited to attend a "consultation meeting" so that proposals can be discussed with him.
It doesn't look as though his other two colleagues have received such a letter, so possibly only him.
They're not really spelling anything out, but I wondered if they brought up anything in the meeting that related to any absences or his work not being up to standard or anything like that, should that be spelt out in the letter he received, ie "absence discussions" or "grievance discussions"?
It might not be anything like that but his company are very underhand about a lot of things (see any previous posts from me!) and I just want him to be forewarned before he goes into the meeting - so if they do say oh it's been brought up that your work is shoddy - then he could say well that's a grievance and should have been shown as so in the letter (if that's actually the case).
Any feedback gratefully received.
And oh, he's still trying to find another job - anywhere but there!!


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I forgot to say, the letter also mentions that he can bring along a fellow employee or trade union official - which I think is rather strange if it's just a consultation meeting with proposals being put forward??
I don't know the legalities, but when we "consult" then redundancies are about to happen, if his colleagues do the same job then they should all be under review. If he has a rep who can go with him, i'd take them.
Question Author
He’s a maintenance man and the other two do other maintenance jobs, ie electrical and plumbing etc. He does more of the “heavy” jobs ie repairing potholes etc.
So do you think if that’s the case (redundancies) they should all be getting called in rather than just him? Are they allowed to just “pick on” one person to make redundant?
I'm sorry I don't know, I would wait until the meeting and find out what it is about and then contact ACAS for advice if you need to. If the other two have a different job description and carry out works that he doesn't then I don't think they would have to be included. Sorry you're going through this though, we live in a permanent state of threatened redundancies, its been going on for years now and it's not pleasant!
Many companies have redundancy policies such as 'last in, first out' and in any case the first step of the proper procedure is an individual meeting.
As your husband seems to have a specified role different from his colleagues then it would be fair to make his job redundant and not consider the others if they are discontinuing the work that he does.
I think by grievance you mean disciplinary when you are talking about performance issues/work quality.
I would need to refresh my knowledge before I try to answer your specific question but I think it is worth asking how long he's been there (if less than 2 years they can dismiss for almost any reason) and pointing out that even if you've been there more than 2 years in my experience if they want to get rid of you they will- or even if you challenge that via a grievance then the job will be very uncomfortable so it may be better to leave for the sake of sanity and dignity.
I think he should go to the meeting and find out more. if they want to discuss disciplinary matters say you need notice and want to consider your right to representation - but again it's a sign that they may be findinga way to make the position untenable
If he is the only person doing potholes, and they no longer need someone for that particular job yes, his position is redundant, so that makes him redundant. Where several staff do the same job they should look at the pool of staff and interview for redundancy. If they really want to get rid of him it would be hard for him to prove that he didn't have the worst interview. That is a very simplistic answer Employment Law is a minefield.
If he is in a Union, then a Union rep will go with him and make sure all it all is above board and put his side of the case. From what you say of the company he really needs to be in a Union, if he is not in one at the moment then just join one.
The Union will send a rep even if he has just joined the same day.
If anyone in his company is in a union then that union will sign him up immediately and send a rep to the meeting.
well I think most of this thread is right - compared to some of the dross on others - some of us have in the past been union reps

we agree on the basic facts - a firm can and should review its staff and their performance which can be done in a variety of ways

the current advice is to consult first which they are doing

bringing a rep of your choice is good practice

so what is left ? he has to turn up to the meeting when they say. It would be nice to have an agenda but they dont have to do one. If he feels he is being ambushed then he should say so.
The other points - why arent they doing it to other people- you seem to have answered ( he is on his own job spec )

anything unexpected - why did you not turn up for three days in 2013? he could say - I thought this was a consultation
and if they say - yeah we are consulting you on why you didnt turn up....then it is a TRAP !

think about recording the whole conversation - there are now gadgets that do this

what is he gonna say if they say - John - you're not really happy here are you ?
Question Author
He’s been there 7 years. Well they will always need someone to paint, repair potholes, fences, signage, lampposts etc as otherwise they get a million insurance claims. When he was off after his knee operation they called in others from the main branch (2 people doing his 1 job) so they definitely always need someone. Could they make him redundant even though the position is still require, especially if they intend to use people from the main branch instead?
Should his letter have spelt out this was about redundancies? My place did some time ago but our letters spelt that out in black and white.
They could be planning to use an outside contractor for this work, making his position redundant.
Or they could just share his work out between the other two.
Redundancy may be an attractive option rather than hanging around in an organisation which is having problems and makes you feel unwanted
Question Author
So if they used an outside contractor to do the same jobs as he would’ve been doing, does that not mean his actual role was still something that was needed? I thought it was only if that position/role wasn’t required anymore that they could make someone redundant.
True, he does want to get out of there anyway but would be nice if it was on his own terms!
If they can make a business case they can use outside contractors, although if it was a one for one swap there may be TUPE imlications - but it's more likeley that rather than have the fixed cost of a salary they would prefer the flexibility of using one or more contractors but only when needed. The consultation will give you a chance to raise issues like this but in my experience they are probably already well on their way towards having made their minds up
Sounds to me as though they have made up their minds to 'let him go' In my experience, these 'consultations' are part of the legal requirement for the employer to make someone redundant. They are not intended to change the result.

The 'consultation' might permit the employee to negotiate something, but the employers have been through this previously, have made their plans and know the objective.

I strongly advise your OH to get union representation and bring the rep along.

The union rep has been through that process; knows the law; can be dispassionate and will fight the employee's corner.

Without that support, the employee is at a severe disadvantage in the 'consultation'.

Someone advised him to record the conversation. Good advice, but...

If you do record the conversation, I believe you are allowed to do that in secret, but if you do so, you are not allowed to use the recording in court, or as part of the legal discussion.
You are allowed to take the secret recording, transcribe it and produce the transcript as evidence. But if they challenge the transcript, you are not allowed to produce the recording. It is their word against yours.

If there are two (or more) of them in the meeting and one of you, you are immediately at a disadvantage. Their word against yours in any disputed recollection.

If you want to record the conversation and use it in evidence, then you have to ask their permission and they are allowed to refuse (I believe)

Summary - Accept that the employer is in a much stronger position than the employee and decide ahead of time what you want out of them in terms of redundncy pay, help in finding another role; being transferred to another role in the organisatin and so on.

Above all, get representation.
Has he got another job lined up?

They might offer to enhance the redundancy payment if he agrees to go.
We can’t be sure that this is about redundancy
I think he can record the meeting.

unless his contract specifically forbids it.
I will spend some happy hours reading the cases mentioned in the above link - Andrew Macshall recorded the police fed operatives and that was admissible ( but he lost the libel trial ) .

a doctor recorded the conversations with his elders and betters and the GMC did not turn a hair. One judge in a case I cant quote said, 'I see no difference in recording a meeting and having a secretary write notes as they occur'

another employee left his recorder oop 'on' when the employees were excluded so they could hear the secret discussions. Then he oops remembered were it was left - retrieved it oops and found and transcribed and then circulated the copies of the discussions. -oops not realising that three or four of the steps were obviously unlawful.
The employment judge threw the furniture around - I think you can see why - the employee has recorded a discussion he WASN'T present at and would not have been given permission by the any of the parties.

( short answer - you can record your own conversations)
I stand corrected. Thank you. Then definitely record it.

It was advice given by both union rep and employer when I went through a similar experience (but that was a while back)
no prob Kidas
Buffy has had some really good gen
( I blush when the law changes to the opposite of what it used to be) - which she can choose to follow or not

I was surprised by the GMC case where they basically said
'well he's done it so let's hear what was really said...'

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