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Suspended from work for call avoidance. Advice please.

NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
Hi guys, 
Im in a bit of a jam and hope somebody can help. I work in a call centre and have been there for appox 13 months. I have Cerebral Palsey (since birth) and Crohns Disease (since 2006) i have got into a situation whereby i have cut off incoming calls so i can rush to the toilet or deal with abdominal pain during flare ups. I have now been suspended pending investigaton and dont know what to do. My employer has never done an occupational health assessment on me even though they knew i struggled. I didnt tell anybody i was doing this as i didnt want my manager to question my suitability for my job which i love. I thought id do this to get through a particularly bad patch with my health and hopefully get back to normality but days turned into weeks and weeks into months. I have been extremely stupid i know. Im just hoping somebody can help me with advice on what i should do now that im in the situation that im in. They are currently investigating and say they will get back to me with a date for my disciplinary next week but so lost on what will happen. 

Replies

  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Posts: 1,709Member, Community champion Chatterbox
    probably best to ring the Scope help line on monday

    CR
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • MatildaMatilda Posts: 1,426Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu

    Ring ACAS helpline.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    edited December 15
    @Nasmamu

    To get the obvious out of the way are a union member if one is recognised by your employer? If so have you spoken to them? I think both @CockneyRebel  and @Matilda are right that you need to speak to someone who has the right experience and knowledge.

    With regard to what will happen your employer will have investigated what has been going on, and many cost centres have software that can produce detailed information on individual behaviours. ie response times, times away from the computer etc. This along with the extended period this has been going on, is the bad news.

    There is potentially some good news. If prior to this you had been good at your job and reliable, and you have a decent employer there will be some concern about what has changed and why the new behaviour has occurred. So there may be scope to save your job. Plus you will have an opportunity to speak.

    Personally I would start by accepting full responsibility for what you have done and apologising. Too many employees enter these interviews in battle mode ready to blame anything or anyone else rather than accepting personal responsibility for their behaviour. If you want to keep your job you have to give your employer confidence that moving forward they can work with you to resolve the problems that have arisen, and in you.

    Second, you need to be honest with yourself and with them. First in how the problem started and then how you allowed it to carry on. This includes your concerns about how your suitability to the company with the change in your condition would be considered by your manager and the company.

    If you have previously requested an assessment to see how the company could make reasonable adjustments to assist you in being able to do your job and this has either been ignored or declined it would be appropriate to raise this as part of  your thinking that bringing your current problems up could work against you. However, in doing this also let them know you now accept that keeping quiet about what was going on also meant your manager was not in a position to work with you to find a solution through the current difficulty.

    Last explain that you do love your job and despite what has happened you would like to find a way to carry on working with them.

    It is not going to be easy, and I won't lie to you by saying that the above will guarantee you keeping your job. If you do keep your job it is likely that you will be closely  monitored for at least 6 months. One concern I would have is you keeping your job but get a final written warning without a plan to help you or reasonable adjustments being made, in short this would be setting you up to fail while trying to mitigate any future claim of disability discrimination.

    What ever way you choose to approach this I hope things work out for you.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Thank you guys for your replies. Much appreciated. 
    @Geoark to answer a few of your questions, yes i do have union representation and called them after posting here. And also i blame nobody but myself as there is nobody else to blame. In the initial interview i did make it clear that i was sorry. Ive also spoken to both Acas and my union rep very candidly about everything, my logic is its best to be honest and get the right advice then hold back vital information and get wrong advice. Both acas and rep asked how long id been there (14 months) had employer known about both disabilities (yes) have you ever had a desk assessment (no) has on occupational health assessment ever been done (no) what adjustments have they made (extra breaks) wheres nearest disabled toilet (one floor down) acas advised to get reports from GP and Gastroenterologist to present at disciplinary. Union rep looking into failure of duty of care regarding employer. Either way ive been told to wait until employers initial investigation is complete. 
  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Sorry @Geoark also regarding your comment : 
    One concern I would have is you keeping your job but get a final written warning without a plan to help you or reasonable adjustments being made, in short this would be setting you up to fail.

    Yes i think its safe to assume that IF i do keep my job and get a final written, it will be extremely difficult to carry on working on the telephones. I'll have to look at none telephone roles wherby im not stuck on a call and needing to go to the toilet, can i guarantee this wont happen, in short No. Ironically i was put on non telephone activities (mail room) about a week before this all came to light as id got to a point where it just plucked up the courage to ask for help. Im currently working in the mail room and have not been suspended as im off the phone and therefore not a risk to the business. Just awaiting conclusion of the investigation now. 
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu

    Thank you for the additional information. While it continues to be a big IF I do feel a little more hopeful for you. Will a union rep be with you for the interview?

    Well done for being so honest, as you said it gives you the best advice.

    Can I ask, if you are told that you would not be able to continue in the call centre but they are willing to make your current position permanent or something else away from taking calls how would you feel?

    I ask because it could have a number of knock on effects, including how much you are paid, and obviously it is not the job you were looking for. Something to consider if this does happen is that if you chose to leave it would be with the final written notice on your record, and would likely appear on any reference. In the long term it may be better to bide your time so that you get past the period and rebuild your reputation. Something you might want to discuss with your union rep or someone else if the worst does not happen. It could also be that there are other roles in the company that suit you more that you may not have considered previously.

    I really hope things work out for you, we all make mistakes and I strongly believe what happens next, given the chance, is what truly matters. My gut feeling is that given the chance and support you need you can turn this sorry mess around. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    @Geoark again many thanks for your reply. Just to answer your questions

    Will a union rep be with you for the interview? 
    The rep said "wait until they finish the investigation and if they call you to a disciplinary then you need to contact us, it maybe we need to request a different date so that somebody can attend" im assuming this means they will.

    Can I ask, if you are told that you would not be able to continue in the call centre but they are willing to make your current position permanent or something else away from taking calls how would you feel?
    Funnily enough during the initial interview where i admitted guilt and apologised they did ask me if i was happy doing off the phone work? I did say it helped greatly with my mental state as could go toilet anytime plus crucially the disabled toilet is on same floor as mail room so no rushing to lift, going down 1 floor and getting to toilet. Felt this was a strange question to be asking at this stage unless maybe they are thinking along the lines of off phone jobs too but not sure the rationale. To answer you question though, i have to be honest with myself and say i do not think im capable of doing my on the phone job anymore. If i keep my job and current role, I'll be in same predicament again before too long. I will definately consider the mail room role short term (until any disciplinary periods have elapsed) to be honest the reduction in wages won't help but the alternative is worse. So as much as i love the actual job, sadly im not fit to do it.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu, while I understand how you are feeling, especially in your initial post, and I do not want to create any unrealistic hope for you, but the more you share the more optimistic I am for you. 

    The fact they brought the subject up at the initial interview suggests they are looking to find a solution to continue employing you. The mail room is a good temporary step, but frankly I would not expect you to enjoy it long term. If you worked in a busy call centre and coped well before the flare up you obviously have a range of transferable skills which would let you move into other roles, some of which may involve additional training, some you could possibly move into and get on with. You might even be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

    As frustrating as it is I agree with the advice you have been given, there is little you can do until you have had the meeting.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • rhinosrhinos Posts: 74Member Whisperer


    I really dont think  you should " blame "  yourself for having a disabling condition

    unless you  clearly designed your body with  such in  mind?  hence the protection of law and  disability

    yes be courteous and none accusatory- but not servile and apologetic about  blame
  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    @Geoark thank you for your help sir. Its much appreciated. Just a waiting game now. 
  • rhinosrhinos Posts: 74Member Whisperer


    be  strong and  firm

    I think you will get a good outcome

    but also be  flexible- thats  part  of  goodwill

    on both sides

    Ps  am not  sir

    but  peter
  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    @rhinos i agree i didnt choose to be disabled but i chose to disconnect customers (albeit under pressures of health) i must take responsibility for that. I just couldnt see the wood for the trees and made the wrong decision. In hindsight i should have taken myself away from the situation and sought help. I didnt do it, ironically through fear of losing a job i am passionate about. Even now my union rep is saying they want to persue a failure of duty of care for me but im uneasy as the place i work is full of good people and its not their fault i struggle to ask for help, ive always been the "ok no problem" guy. The rep called earlier and took more details he says as toilets were on a different floor and i have 2 physical disabilities and wherby theyve never done a desk assessment or an occupational health assessment they are in breach of duty of care towards me. 
  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    rhinos said:


    be  strong and  firm

    I think you will get a good outcome

    but also be  flexible- thats  part  of  goodwill

    on both sides

    Ps  am not  sir

    but  peter
    Thank you Peter. 
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu if I was your union rep I would want to be doing the same as the one you was speaking to. I would also be nervous in your position about rocking the boat.

    The thing is while you did mess up you have put your hands up and accepted your responsibility in what happened, but your employer does have some responsibility in what happened as well in their failure to ensure that they understood your needs and take steps to meet them. Your union rep would not be doing his job if he did not offer this as mitigating circumstances to what has happened.

     'but im uneasy as the place i work is full of good people and its not their fault i struggle to ask for help,'

    To be clear this is not about shifting the blame onto others. Chances are there has been a failure in the company's policies and procedures. There can be a number of reasons why this happened, from a simple oversight, to the wrong person being off sick for a while and so you got overlooked. If it is not corrected then it can happen again. 

    As I said to you earlier, we all make mistakes it is what happens afterwards that makes a difference. Allowing your union rep to highlight their failure gives them the opportunity to put things right and show you they can be the type of employer you want to work for and give your best.

    It has been mentioned that this has come up with your union rep and ACAS, but have they acknowledged that they accept they failed you in not assessing your needs and workstation?

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Hi @Geoark No. Nothing has been mentioned regards:
    have they acknowledged that they accept they failed you in not assessing your needs and workstation?
    At this stage its still under investigation, i did make points regards to toilets being on a different floor being such a big issue that was never addressed properly at the initial interview. And to be fair it did raise eyebrows as in a red flag when i mentioned needing to rush to the lift, wait for it then get into the lift go down one floor and then go into the disabled toilet. Maybe they will acknowledge this at disciplinary stage but thats a guess. 

  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    Hi @Nasmamu how are you doing?

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Hi @Geoark.

    Im good thanks, hope youre well. No news as yet. Theyre still "investigating" at work. Im still in the mail room. They called me to a follow up meeting last wednesday (not the actual disciplinary) just to ask a few more questions around the circumstances that theyd probably been asked by HR to ask. I think they think I'll slip up by saying it wasnt due to my crohns etc. I cant slip up if i tell the truth and im telling the truth. The more it goes on the more im quietly confident that it'll end somewhat positively but not counting any chickens. Im convinced theyre looking at a redeployment to a non telephone based role and there will be some consequences (as there should be) 
  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    @Geoark ive also read up on a few "misconduct due to disability" cases and thats helped me understand where i stand(ish) i wasnt in work today as went for my regular treatment for crohns but im guessing I'll hear something in the next few days. Union rep on standby. I'll update as and when i have one. Many thanks
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu I have a cold at the moment, but beyond that things are going well.

    These things can be worrying and very stressful and it is often the not knowing what is going to happen which is the worst. It sounds like you are less stressed which is better for your health. 

    I look forward to the update and hoping for a positive outcome for you.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu how are you doing?

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Hi @Geoark, hope youre well. Im ok thank you. Re my work situation: its now been approx 6 weeks since the problem came up and would you believe im none the wiser. Keep getting told something will happen soon i.e the disciplinary meeting but nothing as of yet. Still in the post room. Im no longer too worried in all honesty, ive used the time well, ive spoken to my union rep at unite, been to see citizens advice, spoken to a solicitor who specialises in employment law and read tons of stuff online so im quietly confident i will be ok. I think the reason for the delay is that my employer has failed in multiple areas and a dismissal will open then up to a tribunal case. Ive got a raft of consultants ready to back me up also. Im just waiting on what they do. There really has been no indication on if they are going to proceed to disciplinary or when they are going to proceed. Im still on full pay at the moment. Thank you for checking up on me. 
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu you seem to be in a better state of mind which is good, as these things can sometimes take a little while to resolve.

    It also sounds as if this has been a learning curve for your employer as well, not a bad thing. Hope it gets sorted soon for you with good news.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Thank you @Geoark. Yes very much failures on both sides and learnings on both sides too. I will keep you posted which is something ive not forgotten about its just that there really has been nothing further to report. Again many thanks for your help, advice and concern. 
  • NasmamuNasmamu Posts: 45Member Whisperer
    Hi @Geoark hope youre well. Just wanted to give you an update. I had my disciplinary yesterday 6th December and it went well. My employer admitted failings on their side, i admitted my own failings and it ended with a 12 month final written warning. Its the best i could have hoped for in the circumstances, as you probaby know call avoidance is gross misconduct and therefore had it not been for disability it would have been instant dismissal.  So happy its all over to be honest. Im now still going to remain on off the phone activities for approx 2 months, after the 2 months i need to decide if being on phones is something i can cope with, if not they will look at redeployment. Thank you for your advice and thank you to @CockneyRebel @matilda and @rhinos for your help in the early days of this thread too. Incase i dont post again. Have a fantastic xmas and wonderful new year. All the best.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 529Member Chatterbox
    Hi @Nasmamu thank you for the update and I am delighted that it has finally been resolved for you. I hope they have put something in place to ease the pressure for you to go to the toilet when you need to.

    Have a great christmas.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • MatildaMatilda Posts: 1,426Member Chatterbox
    @Nasmamu

    Pleased that things have worked out.

    Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to you, too.
  • rian_scoperian_scope Posts: 14Member, Community advisor Whisperer
    @Nasmamu
    I am Rian from the Support to Work team here at Scope I have read your query and I would advise you to speak with your line manager before the initial meeting explaining your medical situation. So it will give them the option to make reasonable adjustments for you to be able to do your role effectively with as little impact on your health concerns.

    I would also ask your Union rep for a face 2 face meeting prior to your Meeting with your current employer so you are able to explain your medical situation.

    Also by doing this it will give your union rep the chance to also research and argue that you have not had the Work space assessments and also they have not taken into account your condition effecting you at different time along with showing no reasonable adjustments has been made.
    Rian
    Scope Employment Advisor
    Phone: 0300 222 5742
    Email: supporttowork@scope.org.uk
    www.scope.org.uk/supporttowork
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