This is a case, which was recently at an Employment Tribunal (ET) & brought by a former employee for failure to follow the Acas Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures. It highlights the importance of ensuring that when managing employees you follow the correct / legal procedures or the repercussions can be financially damaging.
This case also highlights how the incorrect use of Social Media by an employee can result in the loss of their job but if not handled correctly by their employer has the opposite effect to what should have happened and end up costing the employer rather than the employee.
Michael Hayward had worked for Noel Chadwick in Standish as small and well-respected butchers in Wigan, for seven and a half years before he was dismissed for recommending a discount from online retailer Fresh Meat Packs North West to his then-girlfriend on Facebook.
Hayward was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct and breach of contract by father and son directors John and Paul Chadwick for ‘advertising’ what they believed to be a competitor and breaching the company’s social media policy. The tribunal heard the pair, whose business did not have a formal HR function, had already decided to dismiss Hayward before they brought him into a disciplinary meeting in April 2016.
The 37-year-old said he was not issued a written or verbal formal warning, despite requesting one, nor was he given the opportunity to have someone with him at the meeting or given an explanation regarding his actions. As no appeal was arranged within a few weeks of his sacking, Hayward eventually lost confidence in Noel Chadwick and did not follow up the matter.
The tribunal also heard that Hayward had been ‘pulled up’ on his use of social media before he posted the offer, but there was no warning given to him that suggested such behaviour could lead to his dismissal.
Allowing Hayward’s unfair dismissal claim, Judge Keith Robinson called Noel Chadwick “fanciful” for suggesting it experienced any financial or reputational loss because of the Facebook post.
“Hayward’s misdemeanour, if one can call it that, was minor,” the judge continued. “This is not an advertisement; this [matter] was a wholly mishandled dismissal root and branch. The claimant was dismissed summarily in a process that was reprehensible.”
The judge awarded Hayward a £6,091 payout – £4,891 in lost wages and compensation, and £1,200 to reimburse his tribunal fees.
Matthew Pinto-Chilcott – Managing Director of Consensus HR states “This is an area that we are continually ensuring is adhered to in relation to the Acas Code of Practice On Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures when our clients are dealing with disciplinary issues in the workplace. The law is there to protect the individual as well as the company and by managing your team in the best way, your business benefits & your team become more productive & loyal and avoid unwanted claims being made to an ET.
Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures are just one of the many that employers should have within their business as well as a Contract of Employment, which an employee is entitled to within the first two months of employment. All members of the management team should have the relevant development to ensure all areas are covered correctly & reasonably.”
Chadwick added: “We would like to take this opportunity to urge other small-to-medium businesses to ensure that their HR team is doing their job properly and, if they do not have an HR team, to enlist the services of a professional HR consultancy for the protection of both employer and employee.”
If we can help your business in anyway and ensure you are not taken to an Employment Tribunal for not following the law & not having the correct Policies & Procedures in place, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01462 621243 or alternatively by completing our ‘Contact Form’
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