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Another fine mess I’ve got myself into

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1 Another fine mess I’ve got myself into
Lionel Thatcher, Advisor SLCC

2 A complaint from a member of the public
A complaint from a councillor A complaint from a member of staff A settling of old scores (perhaps after an election and change of regime) Following a grievance or disciplinary relating to a staff member, at which accusations about you were made You have upset a member of Council who has decided to get even Something within the Council has gone wrong – and you’re the figurehead

3 Or – highly unlikely, I know –

4 S101 of The Local Government Act 1972
………………..a local authority may arrange for the discharge of any of their functions a)By a committee, a sub committee or an officer of the authority, or b)By any other local authority…………………………………… You will note that does NOT include a councillor

5 Call SLCC and speak to an Employment Support Officer
Perhaps you are a member of Unison or another Trade Union? If so, tell them what has happened – and take their advice



8 GROSS MISCONDUCT (may lead to dismissal)
Such as Theft or Fraud Fighting Working Dangerously Malicious damage Serious incapability through alcohol or illegal drugs Falsification or unauthorised removal of Council records or property Serious insubordination

9 MISCONDUCT (conduct which initially requires disciplinary action other than dismissal)
Such as Persistent lateness Unauthorised absence Failure to meet required standards of work Poor performance, which could be a capability matter.

It is not open to the Press or public The Panel should be impartial It may be conducted in a quasi-judicial manner The accusations should be known before the Hearing Replies to the accusations should also be supplied prior to the Hearing The Council may call witnesses, as may you. The Council will make their submission and you, or your representative, may question the Council and their witnesses. You will reply and you will be questioned. Questions put to you must be answered by you, not your representative. You may receive the Panel’s decision that day or, more likely, it will communicated to you later.

11 And after the Disciplinary?
Clearly, if the Panel find in your favour, that’s an end to it! If they don’t, you may either accept their findings or appeal.

12 Possible findings of a Panel are
In your favour, so no action A verbal warning A first written warning A final written warning Or dismissal

13 EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS Only when you have been employed for 12 months by the employer years from April

14 SLCC will not be able to represent you at Tribunal
We will support you as much as possible and the ESO could supply a witness statement if required BUT you may need to be represented by a solicitor and, at the Tribunal, by a barrister This is expensive


It is expensive It can be time-consuming and stressful Even if you win, the rewards may not be that great And if you lose, costs could be awarded against you

17 Bullying in the Workplace: a survival guide
Welcome Bullying in the Workplace: a survival guide Led by Lionel Thatcher, Advisor SLCC

18 What is Bullying? “Bullying may be characterised as a pattern of offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour; an abuse of power or authority which tends to undermine an individual or a group of individuals, gradually eroding their confidence and capability, which may cause them to suffer stress.” ACAS definition

19 Why is Bullying a problem?
Bullying costs UK employers £2bn/year (CIPD) Bullying causes inefficiencies Redress is through employment tribunals or courts of law; constructive dismissal, breach of contract or personal injury claims, criminal law under Protection from Harassment act

20 1. Have a Policy 80% of UK employers have a policy
“Dignity at Work” policy template on SLCC website Covers all parties to the council “Zero tolerance” approach Define bullying so that it can be recognized Outline the process (tie in with Grievance policy)

21 2. Encourage Dialogue Keep talking
Set up Staffing or Personnel Committee Encourage formal performance appraisal process Keep it factual and objective. Encourage Members to attend training on performance management.

22 3. Assert yourself You are less likely to suffer if you can be assertive. Assert your rights Encompass these rights for everyone in your policy Seek out self-help books/training and strive for a self-development goal.

23 4. Keep a Diary Objective and factual evidence key
Note down details in a diary or journal This will assist in the need for evidence and be useful to assess whether there is a pattern developing If there are witnesses ask for them to make a note of the events too

24 5. Identify an Ally Find someone to talk to and to support you; a Member, a colleague or a fellow clerk in your network? The Society’s Regional Advisors should be notified and you may be passed on the Employment Advisor if you require specialist help.

25 6. Put it in writing Confronting the bully can make the issue worse
Refute allegations in writing Complaints should be put in writing to the perpetrator and copied to Chair and/or Personnel Committee (but not all Members) Keep the complaint factual and objective without reference to emotions. Point out what you want to change and how that will benefit you and the council.

26 7. Use the Grievance Process
Written complaint triggers Grievance Procedure Statutory right to be accompanied or represented Ask to know who’s on the hearing panel Decide a desired outcome – what would make things better? You need to exhaust this internal procedure before you progress to an Employment Tribunal Nb limitations of Code of Conduct now

27 8. Consider Mediation May be appropriate to enlist the services of a professional mediator to build trust. There is a cost to this kind of service – ACAS charge £2k to provide two consultants to a council for 2 days.

28 9. See your GP Stress/related medical problems are symptoms of bullying. Make appointment to see your doctor Counselling may help you cope with the effects of bullying Don’t be afraid to take sickness absence – a break from the workplace can help

29 10. Seek Specialist Advice
Advice is available from your SLCC Advisory Service Advice notes Your CALC/OVW may also be able to intervene and advise ACAS on or

30 SLCC: Bullying in the workplace
Any Questions?

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