Moving on

Moving on is hard to do. There have been a plethora of songs about moving on, so it must be true. Moving on after the break up of a relationship, divorce, death of a loved one.  But not the loss of a job.

One of the best things you can do after losing your job is to move on. And before you scoff and stop reading, it is easier than you think. Remember, you have lost your job. Your partner has not left you, Aunt Matilda has not died and you still have your health. You have only lost your job.

Of course, for many years, your job has been more than a job. You have put in more hours than you have been paid for; you have kept your blackberry switched on even when on holiday; you have spent more time with your work colleagues than you have with your husband/wife/partner/dog; some of your work colleagues have even become friends. And now you are waking up in the mornings with nowhere to go, nothing to do. Your life feels, well, a little empty.

Losing your job is a loss like any other and it is natural to feel a little lost, confused and empty. These feelings may be more acute if you don’t actually understand why you have lost your job and/or feel you have been treated unfairly.  The first few weeks may be tough, but remember that these feelings are only temporary. They will soon pass – if you take steps to move on,that is.

So what does moving on look like? Remember some or all of these tips and you will find your days become a good deal brighter.

  1. Follow a routine – don’t stay in bed until lunch time and slouch around the house in your pyjamas until time for supper. Get up at a reasonable hour, have a shower, get dressed and get out of the house, even if it is only to feed the ducks in the park.
  2. Take some time out to think about what you want to do next. Re-skill? Do voluntary work? Find a similar role? Take the plunge and work for yourself?
  3. Enjoy not working. Yes, you really can enjoy not slaving behind a desk for 50 hours a week! Always wanted to learn how to swim? – now is the time. Want to write that novel? Well, you have the time to make a start on it now!
  4. Stay connected – with friends, your family, your ex colleagues (well, those you want to stay connected with, that is!). Staying connected keeps you sane. Sitting around the house on your own doesn’t.
  5. And finally, don’t dwell on the fact you have lost your job, even if you feel angry and bitter about the experience. Life goes on –  the wound of a lost job heals quicker than you might think, as long as you let it.
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I’ve been fired – Should I sue?

Bad luck.

There are a number of options open to you, but much depends on why your employer has chosen to end your employment.

You may of course have been fired for reasons outside of your control, e.g. redundancy.

If, however, you have been dismissed under your Company’s disciplinary procedure, then read on.

First, you need to (truthfully) decide whether you were fired because you did something wrong. If, for instance, you know you have raided the Company’s petty cash tin, it is arguable that your employer has every right to tell you to go.

Even if you are in the wrong, it may be that the Company did not follow its own  internal disciplinary procedures. Think about whether you want to challenge it on that basis. The question to ask yourself is whether, had they followed their own internal disciplinary procedure, you would still have been fired. If the answer to this question is yes, you may choose to call it a day and move on. After all, you may decide that spending money (which by now, you may not have) and time on fighting a losing battle is not worth the trouble.

Sometimes ex employees challenge a decision in the hope that they will get some cash out of it. No employer wants to be taken to an employment tribunal. That said, employers don’t want to be taken for a ride either. Think about it. If the employer coughed up every time someone got fired, we’d all be much better off! In this financial climate, employers are much more likely to fight what they consider to be vexatious claims.

If you want to sue your employer, make sure you exhaust the internal processes first and, for instance, appeal the decision to dismiss you.

If, after appealing, you still want to go ahead and sue, you will need to complete an ET1 – this is the form a claimant needs to be complete and which be registered at the employment tribunal within three months of the Termination Date (i.e. your last working day as an employee). Get some legal advice at this stage, but be warned – taking your employer to an employment tribunal is no easy ride. There are many cases of employees who have ended up financially and emotionally worse off. Think long and hard about what the potential up-side will be. Remember, it is very unlikely you will end up being paid a large compensatory sum. The maximum award at employment tribunal may well be in the region of £70,000, but the average claimant walks away with well under £10,000. Factor in your legal fees, expenses, etc, and you are left with very little.

If any of you out there are thinking of suing your employer, I’d be interested to hear your thought and experiences.

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My favourite firings so far…

It may look like I have not been very busy, given the lack of posts on this site. I have,however, been incredibly busy. Firing people, if you must know.

If you are about to be fired, fear you may be fired or have just been fired, the below is intended to lift your mood and hopefully even raise a smile. They are some experiences I have had over the last few months and which, in turn, have made me smile

  1. People I have just fired wanting to link in on http://uk.linkedin.com/ and on facebook.  It is even more amusing when they cite me as a friend. Of course, I am not so daft as to imagine they really want to be my friend. I know they are just tracking me down so they can stalk me, find out where I live and then murder me in my bed …
  2. The man who, while I was firing him, asked me out on a date. Yes, that really did happen!
  3. The employee who refused to hand over his work blackberry and then proceeded to take it apart, before throwing what was left of the shell at me. He missed – fortunately.
  4. The gentleman who turned up to our meeting so hammered that while I was speaking, slumped on the desk and began to snore. (Needless to say, we didn’t finish the meeting – nor did I have the heart to wake him up!).

It is worth remembering that the person firing you is human (even if she doesn’t appear it) and is probably quite disappointed that she is having to sit through another exit. These sorts of events liven up her day and make a routine firing well, less routine (although of course, I am not recommending any of the above!).

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To appeal or not to appeal

If you have been issued with a disciplinary sanction or been fired, you have the right of appeal.

Whether you appeal or not will depend on what the disciplinary sanction is and why it has been issued. You should only really appeal if you feel that the sanction is unduly harsh or if you consider your employer has breached either its internal policies and procedures or the laws of natural justice, as set out in the ACAS Code of Practice.

If, for instance, you have been issued with a written warning for accessing porn at work (yes, it has been known to happen), you might want to appeal if you believe the company did not follow its own internal disciplinary procedure or if you feel that the sanction was unduly harsh because, for instance, your employer did not take into account your previous unblemished record.

If you decide to appeal, remember you will need to cite your reasons for appealing. There is not much point appealing just because you don’t agree with the disciplinary sanction. You must have a reason.

And yes, appealing because you intend to sue your employer for firing you is one such reason.

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Do I have to turn up to a disciplinary hearing?

I am often asked whether employees must turn up to a disciplinary hearing if required by their employer.

The answer is a big yes.

Think about it. The accusation against you is for stealing/harassment/poor performance, whatever. You are invited to a hearing, but don’t turn up. What will that make your employer think? They will assume guilt, that’s what.

Unless you really can’t face it (and have a medical certificate to prove your inability to cope with a disciplinary hearing), rock up and face the music.

If you are innocent, this is your opportunity to make representations as to why your employer has got it all wrong. If you know you are at fault, this is your opportunity to redeem yourself.

Of course, how far you get in redeeming yourself will depend on the seriousness of the case, but remember that being fired is a worst case scenario in the UK and reserved for only the most serious cases. Your employer must comply with the ACAS Code of Practice that sets disciplinary sanctions and give examples of when each disciplinary sanction might be suitable.

If you don’t turn up for a disciplinary hearing, unless you are seriously unwell, your employer has an obligation to rearrange it only once. If you don’t turn up for the rearranged hearing, your employer has the right to conduct the disciplinary hearing without you present and determine what it considers to be an appropriate outcome.

It may not be an appropriate outcome for you.

So turn up. It really is worth it.

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So you’ve been invited to a disciplinary hearing?

So you’ve been invited to a disciplinary hearing. Well, required to attend more like. If you don’t turn up it will be an assumption of guilt, so take up the invitation and do a little bit of planning.

Yes, plan. There is no point rocking up to a disciplinary hearing without having considered what –  exactly –  you are going to say to the allegations put to you. You will have these allegations in the letter “inviting” you to attend the hearing. If the letter doesn’t state what the allegations are, then ask. Your employer is required to tell you what these are at least 24 hours before the hearing takes place.  Point them to the ACAS Code of Practice http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/9/5/CP01_1.pdf  if they feign surprise at the audacity of you even asking. And while you’re at it, take a look at it yourself.  It’s aimed at employers, but is written in plain, straightforward English and you may as well know what they can and can’t  do as well.

You also have the right to be accompanied by a workplace colleague or a trade union representative. Don’t bother joining a trade union if you are not already a member. You don’t have the time, and anyway, if you do your homework you won’t need a union representative.  Don’t bother taking a workplace colleague either, unless it is someone you can really trust. Their role is really one of support. They can’t for instance, answer questions on your behalf.  Take someone you don’t trust and you may find they have been blabbing to colleagues and spreading the news of your bad behaviour (assuming you have been bad, of course). That’s the last thing you need.

Start putting together any documentation that will help you state your case. If, for instance, you are being invited to a disciplinary hearing because of poor performance, find examples of recent work you have done well and, even better, emails from your manager thanking you for work done.

Think about what you will say. If you are accused of getting drunk at a company event and (drunken stupor aside) you are fully aware you did, there is no point pretending you didn’t. Being apologetic and expressing your embarassment is best – assuming, of course, you genuinely feel apologetic and embarassed. Even if you are not, you may as well be. Your job is at stake, remember, and if you want to keep it, you need to play the game.

Employees in the sorry situation of having to attend a disciplinary hearing often ask whether they should seek legal advice.  Whether you should do so is entirely up to you. A lawyer may give you some guidance as to whether or not you will be fired, but why start racking up legal fees so early on in the game? It may be wiser to save those pounds in case you are fired and need not only sound legal advice, but some hard earned cash in your pocket as well.

And if you’re not fired? Well, you can take yourself off on a little holiday to recover from the trauma of a disciplinary hearing instead. You’ll need it.

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Why me?

It’s a good question. Why you? Why anyone? It’s the question that people have been asking for years and there are a hundred and one possible answers. None of them, of course, will make you feel any better or any wiser.

People get fired. It’s a fact of life. It will happen to be the best of us at some point in our careers. Even me. And I make a living out of firing people.

Sometimes being fired is dressed up or down. Call it leaving a company under a “mutual agreement” or “redundancy”, it is still being fired. You’ll feel the same – miserable –  (unless your firm has given you lots of cash to go, of course, and you want to give up work and live in the Bahamas).

Sometimes there is fault. Yours, or someone else’s. Looking back, you ask yourself why you said what you did, behaved as you did. You take a step back and think that perhaps you should have acted differently, been someone else, not been so greedy. Or perhaps so lazy.

Hindsight, of course, is a remarkable thing. You can think these things, but you can’t turn back time, so you may as well give yourself a little more time and, in so doing, manage the firing process.

Yes, you can manage how you are fired – to a certain extent.  How you are treated and how much money you get out of it (if any) can be as much down to you as the nice lady in Human Resources.

No one is going to deny that being fired is painful,  but this blog will, hopefully,  make it a little less so. And, of course help you move on.

 

 

 

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