Employment law bods - advice please

Scenario: 

 

1. You and boss have fraught relationship.

2. During lockdown, she makes you attend a face to face meeting with her and HR chap. 

3. Prior to the meeting, she refuses to tell you what meeting is about but says it's not a formal HR process. HR chap also refuses to tell you.

4. You go in and secretly record the whole thing because you fear this is an ambush for a sacking or similar.

5. You are basically told off for very minor things that, to you, seem blown out of proportion.

6. She does you over in year end appraisal (based on the overblown things, although this was not a formal HR process). This in turn affects your potential promotion, salary, bonus, etc...

7. You formally complain.

8. You now know beyond any doubt and have proof that these spurious reasons are made up. 

 

When the grievance is heard internally, you have to steer clear of the existence of the recording, right? Google seems to say the recording might be admissible in an employment tribunal but would constitute misconduct (albeit maybe not gross) from an employer perspective?

It would be admissible if relevant (unless without prejudice or protected conversation, or unless you left a device behind to record private discussions).

Generally viewed as misconduct but very unlikely to be gross misconduct if you stuck to your justification - you have probably found the EAT case on Google.

If you disclose having covertly recorded them it will bring everything to a head very quickly I would imagine. High stakes strategy if you want to force an exit. 

Also what are you trying to achieve or expecting with your grievance? Making your boss see that they’re being a bit unfair and treat you nicer is almost certainly entirely unrealistic. 

Thank you nb.

I want my appraisal rating to be amended as this impacts me. If they amend it, maybe just maybe it also shows my boss she can't get away with stuff like this ... 

If they don't do it, I want to leave... so high stakes strategy may be useful

Keep your expectations low of them upgrading your appraisal rating and everything being rosy after raising a formal grievance. Expect a whitewash and a cold shoulder going forwards. And then you can be pleasantly surprised if you get the result you want.

If you want to negotiate a decent exit package then ‘my manager has been mean to me and I think I should be paid some money to leave’ isn’t the best leverage.

It sounds like a daft place to work.

What I would do is secure another role, and then raise a fuss at your current employer once you're in offer stage. 

Bring a formal complaint based on all you've said, and wait for the PILON offer to come. Potentially damages too, if they've been horrible.

Worst case you're working at a new place with a better boss, best case they're giving you a load of cash to go without creating a problem for them. 
 

good luck either way! I doubt they'll want to go to tribunal if you talk about recordings, but I would definitely be job hunting rather than trying to "fix" your appraisal. 

 

Lets be clear.  You are leaving.  This is now all about terms

Rialto is right. 

Unless they want your boss out, you are on the way to the door.

Someone did something similar to me once.  I was on the verge of leaving anyway and it just made my mind up and I quit the next day.  Told them that if I was so crap they wouldn’t want me hanging around for my notice period so did a deal to leave after a couple of weeks instead of three months.  Couldn’t be bothered to have a fight about it as life’s too short to waste time on khunts.

I've started looking. 

I actually want to leave anyway and would love a payoff.

I would have quit now without a bonus being due soon

I've quit 2 jobs due to crazy/irrational bosses and in both cases I lined up a new role first, then made my case, and took the money to go quietly. I had very strong cases and the bosses in question were removed after I left. But I held no illusions about staying. I never did what you did and recorded things, but for one of them I did start to diarize comments with dates and direct quotes that I used in my exit interviews.

With everything else that's going on, is it as easy as finding another role pretty quickly?

You have a “fraught” relationship with your current manager, and you’ve negotiated exits from at least two other jobs where you’ve had a similar problem.

Have you considered that the relevant variable as to why your relationship with managers irrevocably breaks down is you?

Warwick are you confusing me with someone else?

This is a novel situation for me.

Fraught because i questioned some strange decisions she made and potential appearance of bias and general lack of transparency last summer. She has been very terse and defensive since. 

I am not an employment bod, but (as a litigator) I should have thought that the recording of the first interview only becomes relevant (from your perspective of wanting to rely on it) if their account of what was said during that interview begins to depart from what actually happened. 

If they hauled you in for a face-to-face meeting to discuss trivialities, for example, that seems to me to be rather questionable conduct and I'd be tempted to put them on the spot about that and see whether they start materially misrepresenting what was in fact said. At that stage the recording might become quite useful. 

High states stuff obv., and would plainly need you to have accepted the need for, and have put into execution, and exit plan. 

Dunno about other industries but in mine there is no point complaining about higher ups. The directors etc will only act if they want to get rid of the boss anyway then they leap on any complaint and positively encourage them. 

Agreed. FAOD my thoughts above were all around how to create negotiating leverage for a better exit package. 

Why didn't you ask to record the meeting? It would have been a win win. If they refused it would look suspicious and if they agreed they would either not make the dodgy allegations or if they did you would have a record of it.

Warwick can't read apparently, Coucou. I think he's mixing up your post with one of my responses.

I had 2 bosses in my 20 years of working in an office that have both created working environments so bad I had to leave, and they were both removed after I left those places (management wanted to get rid of them). But yes, blame the victim and say that crazy bosses don't happen in real life and are a fantasy... sigh.

Current boss is pretty awesome and we get on very well - but thanks Warick. I've had a lot more good bosses than crazy, thankfully. 

 

Having these sorts of encounters at work is largely unavoidable over the course of a career; how one deals with them is something of a rite of passge (twice - at least once as the junior and once as the senior). It sounds as though your boss hasn't left you much choice in this case, Coucou, and has jumped the gun by involving HR, and that should not be the immediate response (any more than should heading for the exit immediately upon discovering a personality clash with a superior). 

BTW that last point was not aimed at anyone on here (I don't know the specific circumstances of any of you); it was based on my observation of friends and past colleagues. 

Thanks for the apols Warwick, sorry if my response is a bit peppery, my apols too.

Spotty - with you on what you say other than once a superior has brought you into a closed door meeting with HR I *do* think it is time for an exit strategy to be formed and executed. That relationship is not going to repair in my experience.

Canadian - no disagreements here. The moment HR is involved, in my view, that generally sets an expiry date on one's time at an organisation. Even if the matter is not pursued further word gets around and one is viewed as contaminated. 

Your question was about the recording.

I haven't seen your disciplinary policy, so I don't know whether recording the interview would be a disciplinary offence (gross misconduct or otherwise). 

Whether it is or it isn't, my experience of managers finding out they have been tape recorded without consent is that they react very negatively (whether it is unlawful or not, or whether the relationship has already broken down or not).

If I were you, I would transcribe the recording by putting the accurate content into bullet points.  On paper.  Dated just after the meeting.  Then scan it to yourself.  And if you want to use the content, use the written document.  If they dispute its accuracy, you can then rely on the recording.  As you say, if the recording is relevant it is likely to be disclosable in any ET proceedings.

Hi Warwick that's a good idea re the transcript. Thank you