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Google Effect - Advice Needed


Google Effect - Advice Needed

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Message
HelpNeeded
HelpNeeded
Supreme Being
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Hi RunningMan,

From an Employment Law point of view as you have disclosed there shouldn't be an issue, legally. The points you outline below would seem to evidence to me that your business wants to support you now, practically, given the fact that information has got out into the workforce. It's hard without further background to provide clear advice. You mention that you feel there is a risk to your safety, i really can't see how an employer could force you to stay in a role if there was a genuine risk of this (i would expect your employer to complete a formal risk assessment on this point before coming back to you about it) which then opens up the question, what other suitable roles are available within the organisation that they could offer you?

If you are stating that you feel you CANNOT continue in your current role due to your fears for your safety then you may force your employers hand if they cannot source a suitable alternative, again it's difficult without knowing the specifics.

As long as the conversations are 'chats' (as positioned with you) i wouldn't worry to much about Trade Union Representation as long as you're able to remain professional (sometimes the emotions can take over), if the meeting was formal i.e. part of a grievance or disciplinary process you would know as you should have received a formal letter outlining your right to be accompanied and they would be recorded/notes taken.

It would be good, if you feel comfortable, if you could share the outcome of your meeting?

I wish you all the best and hope a solution that works for all can be found.
HelpNeeded
HelpNeeded
Supreme Being
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Hi RM,

Just wanted to wish you all the best with everything, awful situation, made even worse by your former employers actions.

I can't imagine how you're feeling but please try and remember, you did nothing wrong from an employment point of view. I appreciate it may not feel that way to you right now though.

Best of luck with everything.
HelpNeeded
HelpNeeded
Supreme Being
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Hi RunningMan,

I can imagine it must be difficult for you.

You did the right thing by disclosing and the company have supported you because of this, that is a good thing.

Sure, the company couldn't create a post and with limited alternatives i guess it's totally down to you and how you feel about returning to your role. Your response is interesting, do you feel other teams/departments in your business wouldn't know about your conviction? Just on the back of your point about looking elsewhere for opportunities within the same organisation. Why do you feel that your current team/department would act badly but not others in the same business?

I'm assuming from your comments that this has come about through someone on your team/department using google to search your background? If so would it be worth consulting with your HR/IT Team around an internet usage policy and potentially restricting access to any web pages which make reference to you? While you'll never be able to control 'office gossip' that may help some of your concerns and make any return slightly more bearable for you at least?

I just think it would be a real shame for anyone with a conviction to be honest at disclosure but then feel they couldn't continue in the role, especially after 18 months.

Just a thought.
HelpNeeded
HelpNeeded
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Hi RunningMan,

I know it must be difficult for you but you need to remember you have done nothing wrong, you were open when you should have been about your past and in doing so WILL be able to walk away from this with your head held high!

Do not resign, if what you have shared is the truth and you have done nothing wrong at work (consider work policies around social media, mobile phone and internet use (these are the most common)) do not resign. Your employers do have a duty of care to their employees however so based upon your experience so far they could use that as a basis to not transfer.

I am not a lawyer so if you take the following guidance or not is totally up to you but please consider the following - an employment tribunal would look at your 'loss' in this situation, to me and you that means how much money you would lose before you 'reasonably' found further employment (they can count this as income which would mean that they would consider benefits against this) so you may wish to consider that the best outcome for all parties is an 'enhanced redundancy package' (can you check to see if your employers have a policy?)

Asked another way you may wish to consider if the following is enough for you:
Role released on redundancy
Payment in lieu of notice (a lump sum payment for your notice period without working it)
Payment for any bonus due/average of bonuses over the last 3 months (tax free)
up to 1 (it could be more but very unlikely) months pay for each year worked (regardless of the 2 year minimum) (tax free)
A 'clear' company reference (you would see what would be shared as part of the settlement agreement)

You could also ask if they have any 'sister' companies (separate legal entities) that you could transfer to in a different name as you suggested above but i would, personally, not do this.

Please know that going to tribunal would cost you legal fees and please let me stress again that i am not a lawyer, i am however a HR professional so if you do wish to discuss further please ask Unlock to get a message to me and i'll share what i can.

Whatever you decide, all the best.
paulbarker
paulbarker
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This goes to show how much of a problem Google can be. It's obviously proved how it important it was to disclose - some people will take a risk and not, but if you're details are online, you're taking a big risk.

It's good the company has supported you. I'm with 'HelpNeeded' on this - it would be a real shame if you felt you couldn't continue, but then we're not in your shoes!

I hope you have the confidence to carry on!
RunningMan
RunningMan
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*UPDATE*
Thanks to all for the advice and feedback. On Tuesday this week, with the agreement of the Management Team, I returned to work. It was difficult but not a disaster. Most staff blanked me but a few were OK. I was prepared to persevere with it as I want to keep working and have done well in this job.

This morning (Wednesday), my Department manager rang me. He told me I was being suspended due to 'the emotional distress it was causing the 500 staff in the warehouse." They have now started an investigation and I will be required to attend a meeting at some point in the future.

I am not sure what to do! Any feedback or advice would be welcome as I seek to find a way forward.

Thanks again
RunningMan
RunningMan
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Thanks Deb S, that is an encouraging story and makes a refreshing change from the usual narrative around people with convictions. I am not sure what the nature of your friend's offence was but in my case it is something which brings out the worst in people. The rules of this Forum prohibit me from going into details but I am sure you can read between the lines. Moreover, I am based in a big warehouse environment with men who would have little sympathy for my position and the "news" has spread across the whole site. If it were just a few blokes in our department then I guess this would be more manageable but I am not sure how the managers can control it when 500+ people know.
RunningMan
RunningMan
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*UPDATE #2*
Thanks to all of you for the feedback and comments. After nearly a month of being suspended, I received a phone call this afternoon (9/3) inviting me to attend an 'Investigation Meeting' on Wednesday. I am being investigated for creating an 'untenable working environment' and 'potentially bringing the company into disrepute'. This is the first I have heard of it. It feels like I am being scapegoated for other people's reactions when I have done nothing wrong. The Manager conducting the investigation was given the case last week. Why it has taken three weeks to do that I am not sure. She wants to meet with me first to get some information. Although this is a first step, they seem to have decided to go down this formal route probably with a view to getting me out. I have taken some legal advice. Most lawyers were not interested unless I paid up front (one wanted over £3000!). However, one gave me some free advice over the phone. I do have a good case but a lot would depend on what the business did next. Once I know that, she recommended I give her a call and make an appointment for an hour's consultation (£200+VAT!!!). She would then be able to advice on my specific situation.

The stage is set. I will let you know how it goes....
RunningMan
RunningMan
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*UPDATE #3*
The meeting went about as well as could be expected. They have decided to investigate me for "A breakdown in working relationship between Staff Member, Department and Branch due to a prior conviction that could cause reputational damage [to the Business]." Minutes were taken and I received a copy of them at the end.

I put across the basics of my case and my own concerns about their handling of it. I also asked some questions about a possible breach of confidentiality that may have 'tipped off' another staff member to google my name in the first place. I came away feeling I had 'set my stall out' and, if they choose to take disciplinary action, I have a strong and robust case. They are now investigating further and will come back to me in due course.

Thanks to all for the advice - especially Debbie on the helpline - watch this space for future updates.
RunningMan
RunningMan
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*UPDATE #4*
This week I was asked to attend a second informal meeting with the manager conducting the investigation into my suspension. It was short but sweet. Before being suspended, I had discussed with my line manager a possible 'positive exit strategy' if I was unable to continue to work in my current role. This might include support to find a job elsewhere in the business, a guarantee of a good reference and other options. We never explored any of these options as I was suspended shortly after. However, at this most recent meeting the investigating manager asked more about this and what I might be willing to consider.

Clearly this is no guarantee of anything! I know they may still continue down the disciplinary route. However, I was able to state plainly I am open to negotiation and for the first time they seemed to be listening. I also made clear that dismissing me (and rendering me virtually unemployable), will leave me no choice but to resort to more formal avenues of relief. I would also speak to a solicitor if they do make any offer to ensure I am being treated fairly under UK employment law provisions.

For the first time I felt a bit more positive and, after six weeks off, I really want to see this resolved so I can move forward, even if it means finding another job.
GO


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