Employment Tribunal result of interest to Union Reps

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Employment Tribunal result of interest to Union Reps

Postby tabbycat » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:14 pm

An ET awarded £11,000 to James Harvey (a hotel chef) after ruling that although the employer Vista Hotels had good reason to dismiss him, they had failed to follow proper procedure. The ET ruled that the employer should have gone to see Mr Harvey (in prison) to ask him his side of the story before sacking him for gross misconduct. The ET said,"the complete absence of a disciplinary process with no right of appeal did not fall within the band of reasonable responses open to an employer in justifying the fairness of a summary dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct for a first disciplinary offence".
Mr Harvey,37, was a chef at the four star Fermain Valley Hotel in Guernsey. In March 2014 He had been drunkenly arguing with his girlfriend and assaulted two members of staff who tried to help. A police officer and special constable arrived to break up the disturbance. Both were bitten by Mr Harvey. He spat blood at police and was restrained by his T-shirt being pulled over his head. He was jailed for 18 months for GBH and other related offences.
The ET ruled that although there had been good reason for his dismissal, proper procedure had not been followed. Vista Hotels did not formally notify him of his dismissal until nearly six months after his arrest.

(reported in The Times 30 June 2015).

As a Union Rep for many years, I was acquainted with many cases of dismissal. The ones wherein I repped did occur in internal Disciplinary procedures and Hearings involving the employers. But, I did hear of others were suspensions and dismissal for gross misconduct were carried out without hearings and a chance for the employee's case to be put; in many cases they were non-union members. This recent result underlines the duty of the employer to act with regard to due process, will be of interest to many Union Reps and is a big step in the right direction. All we need on top of that now is for SMTs to act with Due Diligence at all times as well! Okay, we're a long way from that happening everywhere - but we can just hope that maybe one day it'll all come together.....
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Re: Employment Tribunal result of interest to Union Reps

Postby Tolkny » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:57 pm

Thanks tabby cat.

A side issue - maybe - Guernsey is not subject to UK law and yet somehow - presumably a UK employment Tribunal determined this case - might he have been employed by a UK firm but located in an 'overseas' venue OR might it be a result of a Guernsey Employment Tribunal and so be at best advisory to non Guernsey folk?

Or am I completely wrong ( a definite possibility here!) ?
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Re: Employment Tribunal result of interest to Union Reps

Postby tabbycat » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:39 pm

Yes, this was a Guernsey criminal case and a Guernsey Employment Tribunal and therefore outside English/Welsh law. I intentionally didn't comment on that because this is an open forum.
Sometimes as a Union Rep you have in advocacy and argument to advance whatever works best (and not provide the other side with escape lines) and this is a case where principles have emerged lending themselves to that. The case is only advisory rather than precedent but is nonetheless useful when arguing to SMTs that there is "a right way" that they should do something which protects their good name, reputation, standing with staff etc etc as well as the rights of employees, and do they really want to run the risk of Grievance, Appeal against Dismissal, or even Employment Tribunal? Done well and successfully, brokerage of this kind can win breathing space for both sides, continue salary for a little longer, and even explore alternative progress paths which could perhaps include negotiating a departure with a reference.
I recall an ACO conducting a Hearing against an employee dismissing ACAS guidelines as "They're only guidelines. They're not compulsory. We don't have to follow them". It became part of our successful Appeal to the Board when we pointed out that departure from those guidelines should be exceptional and based on good stated grounds. Neither of those facets had been addressed by the ACO.
The Guernsey case can be used as part of a Union Rep's armoury. Its effectiveness depends on how it's used.
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Re: Employment Tribunal result of interest to Union Reps

Postby Tolkny » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:05 am

Thanks tabbycat - THIS forum can be for exactly considering the issues raised.

Napo HQ became frightened of its own forum at least back when it was attacked by some organisations very critical of some family court service members - Napo lost the battle without properly having it's arguments understood and cowed - as did Parliament with its glass screens in the chambers (like some Magistrates Court room's public galleries)

It is time we got over that - I remember Judy McKnight being so pleased when Napo joined the online world and she encouraged us to vote in "best of competitions", for the bloke - Lee was his surname - I think - a North American trades Unionist who gave Napo early advice on using the internet.

Napo now needs good advice on its own Internet presence and how to develop an effective way of managing Internet criticism via Social Media because right now it is FAILING - (in the vernacular) - BIG TIME.

Surely there are some in GFTU or TUC or the other affiliated groups to which Napo belongs who can help Napo manage its way out of the current mess, that can be witnessed by a visit to the 'On Probation' blog comments or the paucity of Napo's use (nationally & in branches) of Twitter, Facebook and Google+
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