Tag Archives: unfair dismissal

I Did It. *faints*

fainting with shockI check my emails most mornings while I wait for the kettle to boil.

Nestled among the offers to give me £100,000 if only I hand over my bank details to a very polite and sincere gentleman in The Gambia, lay the email I had been waiting for.

‘Degree classification notice – please accept and confirm’.

My finger hovered over the email. The moment of truth, the culmination of six years study. I took a deep breath and clicked.

Then I laughed. And hiccuped. Rushing to the printer to see actual proof before the email magically disappeared, I did a high five (ok, a very low two, but you know what I mean).

I am now the proud owner of a Bachelor of Science degree (with Honours, yay). An upper Second Class. A 2:1. Still can’t believe it. Thinking about it, I have studied for the last 10 years out of 11, my first qualification being a degree equivalent in Homeopathy (long story). My Glaswegian auntie, on seeing the letters I was eligible to use for that course (RSHom), said, ‘oh dear, if you say that out loud with a Scottish accent, it sounds a wee bit rude, doesn’t it?).

Well, now I’m a Bachelor(ette), which is rather fitting, given my present singledom. I’m supposed to attend a graduation ceremony next May, donning a cap and gown and walking up to a stage to accept a bit of paper tied nicely with a ribbon. I’ll sign up, but the logistics of doing this in front of hundreds of people will be left for another time.

It sounds weird, but this achievement is the positive culmination of a terrible couple of years. The last two years of the degree were excruciating. My brain died a slow death, slinking out of the room without a backwards glance or apology. I struggled with every single aspect of the course. I came so, so close to giving it all up. What was once fairly easy for me (I’m an unabashed girly swot), became unintelligible nonsense. Essays were torture. In tutorials, I sat with a slightly astonished look on my face.

But I didn’t give up and I’m proud of myself. I didn’t give up during the diagnostic process, during the legal proceedings against my ex-employer who sacked me for the heinous crime of having MS, during two lots of Campath treatment and their after effects. I did it. I actually did it.

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Backing The Bullies

This Summer, The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will be introduced with Vince Cable, the business secretary, stating that ‘people who work hard and do the right thing (will be) rewarded.’

Sounds fair? Dig a little deeper.

Staff who feel they’ve been unfairly sacked will find it much more difficult to raise a case – there will be a cap on compensation for unfair dismissal and new charges for bringing a claim.

This is on top of the time employees have to work for their company before they can file an unfair dismissal claim – a shocking rise from one to two years.

As many of you will know, I was unfairly dismissed from my job last Autumn for having MS. Thankfully, I had worked for just over two years and recently the case was settled in my favour. However I know of people in low-paid jobs who are routinely ‘dismissed’ from their jobs right before the two-year cut off, only to see those same jobs quickly re-advertised.

Until now, taking a case to a tribunal has been free. Once the bill is passed, the proposed new fees will be £250 for lodging a standard claim and a further £950 if it goes to a hearing. How many people who are sacked can even contemplate these charges? And with legal aid being drastically scaled back, few will be able to fight back.

Even more Orwellian is the introduction of ‘protected conversations’, where an employer can take you aside out of the blue, offer to pay you to leave and you won’t be able to use anything said in the discussion as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim (discrimination cases are exempt from this). This protects your employer, not you. Presently, employers only have this protection once a formal dispute has already been raised regarding your performance.

For people already fighting to keep their jobs in the midst of a recession, especially for those with a disability, this is devastating news. Bullying bosses have been handed even more power, and this time it comes government-backed.

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