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Another fine mess I’ve got myself into. Lionel Thatcher, Advisor SLCC. A complaint from a member of the public A complaint from a councillor A complaint from a member of staff A settling of old scores (perhaps after an election and change of regime)

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Another fine mess I’ve got myself into

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another fine mess i ve got myself into

Another fine mess I’ve got myself into

Lionel Thatcher, Advisor SLCC


A complaint from a member of the public

  • A complaint from a councillor
  • A complaint from a member of staff
  • A settling of old scores (perhaps after an election and change of regime)
  • Following a grievance or disciplinary relating to a staff member, at which accusations about you were made
  • You have upset a member of Council who has decided to get even
  • Something within the Council has gone wrong – and you’re the figurehead

Or – highly unlikely, I know –


s101 of the local government act 1972
S101 of The Local Government Act 1972

………………..a local authority may arrange for the discharge of any of their functions

a)By a committee, a sub committee or an officer of the authority, or

b)By any other local authority……………………………………

You will note that does NOT include a councillor


Call SLCC and speak to an Employment Support Officer

  • Perhaps you are a member of Unison or another Trade Union?

If so, tell them what has happened – and take their advice





gross misconduct may lead to dismissal
GROSS MISCONDUCT(may lead to dismissal)

Such as

  • Theft or Fraud
  • Fighting
  • Working Dangerously
  • Malicious damage
  • Serious incapability through alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Falsification or unauthorised removal of Council records or property
  • Serious insubordination
misconduct conduct which initially requires disciplinary action other than dismissal
MISCONDUCT (conduct which initially requires disciplinary action otherthan dismissal)

Such as

  • Persistent lateness
  • Unauthorisedabsence
  • Failure to meet required standards of work
  • Poor performance, which could be a capability matter.
the disciplinary hearing
  • It is not open to the Press or public
  • The Panel should be impartial
  • It may be conducted in a quasi-judicial manner
  • The accusations should be known before the Hearing
  • Replies to the accusations should also be supplied prior to the Hearing
  • The Council may call witnesses, as may you.
  • The Council will make their submission and you, or your representative, may question the Council and their witnesses.
  • You will reply and you will be questioned. Questions put to you must be answered by you, not your representative.
  • You may receive the Panel’s decision that day or, more likely, it will communicated to you later.
and after the disciplinary
And after the Disciplinary?

Clearly, if the Panel find in your favour, that’s an end to it!

If they don’t, you may either accept their findings or appeal.

possible findings of a panel are
Possible findings of a Panel are
  • In your favour, so no action
  • A verbal warning
  • A first written warning
  • A final written warning


  • dismissal
employment tribunals

Only when you have been employed for 12 months by the employer

---- 2 years from April 2013 ----


SLCC will not be able to represent you at Tribunal

We will support you as much as possible and the ESO could supply a witness statement if required

BUT you may need to be represented by a solicitor and, at the Tribunal, by a barrister

This is expensive





think carefully before you proceed to tribunal
  • It is expensive
  • It can be time-consuming and stressful
  • Even if you win, the rewards may not be that great
  • And if you lose, costs could be awarded against you


Bullying in the Workplace:

a survival guide

Led by Lionel Thatcher, Advisor SLCC

what is bullying
What is Bullying?
  • “Bullying may be characterised as a pattern of offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour; an abuse of power or authority which tends to undermine an individual or a group of individuals, gradually eroding their confidence and capability, which may cause them to suffer stress.”

ACAS definition

why is bullying a problem
Why is Bullying a problem?
  • Bullying costs UK employers £2bn/year (CIPD)
  • Bullying causes inefficiencies
  • Redress is through employment tribunals or courts of law; constructive dismissal, breach of contract or personal injury claims, criminal law under Protection from Harassment act
1 have a policy
1. Have a Policy
  • 80% of UK employers have a policy
  • “Dignity at Work” policy template on SLCC website
  • Covers all parties to the council
  • “Zero tolerance” approach
  • Define bullying so that it can be recognized
  • Outline the process (tie in with Grievance policy)
2 encourage dialogue
2. Encourage Dialogue
  • Keep talking
  • Set up Staffing or Personnel Committee
  • Encourage formal performance appraisal process
  • Keep it factual and objective.
  • Encourage Members to attend training on performance management.
3 assert yourself
3. Assert yourself
  • You are less likely to suffer if you can be assertive.
  • Assert your rights
  • Encompass these rights for everyone in your policy
  • Seek out self-help books/training and strive for a self-development goal.
4 keep a diary
4. Keep a Diary
  • Objective and factual evidence key
  • Note down details in a diary or journal
  • This will assist in the need for evidence and be useful to assess whether there is a pattern developing
  • If there are witnesses ask for them to make a note of the events too
5 identify an ally
5. Identify an Ally
  • Find someone to talk to and to support you; a Member, a colleague or a fellow clerk in your network?
  • The Society’s Regional Advisors should be notified and you may be passed on the Employment Advisor if you require specialist help.
6 put it in writing
6. Put it in writing
  • Confronting the bully can make the issue worse
  • Refute allegations in writing
  • Complaints should be put in writing to the perpetrator and copied to Chair and/or Personnel Committee (but not all Members)
  • Keep the complaint factual and objective without reference to emotions.
  • Point out what you want to change and how that will benefit you and the council.
7 use the grievance process
7. Use the Grievance Process
  • Written complaint triggers Grievance Procedure
  • Statutory right to be accompanied or represented
  • Ask to know who’s on the hearing panel
  • Decide a desired outcome – what would make things better?
  • You need to exhaust this internal procedure before you progress to an Employment Tribunal
  • Nb limitations of Code of Conduct now
8 consider mediation
8. Consider Mediation
  • May be appropriate to enlist the services of a professional mediator to build trust.
  • There is a cost to this kind of service – ACAS charge £2k to provide two consultants to a council for 2 days.
9 see your gp
9. See your GP
  • Stress/related medical problems are symptoms of bullying.
  • Make appointment to see your doctor
  • Counselling may help you cope with the effects of bullying
  • Don’t be afraid to take sickness absence – a break from the workplace can help
10 seek specialist advice
10. Seek Specialist Advice
  • Advice is available from your SLCC Advisory Service Advice notes

  • Your CALC/OVW may also be able to intervene and advise
  • ACAS on 0845 7 47 47 47 or