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0 votes
Our clerk has resigned and is likely to try to claim for constructive dismissal. We have just had an informal exit meeting with the clerk for her to have her say. As we have issues with her conduct and financial irregularities  we have been advised to have an investigation meeting with her to put these things to her whilst she is still an employee of the council so that it is recorded. This would not be a disciplinary meeting. The outcome would have to be discussed to decide if there is a case and then the disciplinary policy would have to be followed
Do we need to have an extra ordinary meeting to decide to do this or can we just arrange an informal meeting with the clerk
by (500 points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
I had a clerk with +/- 20 years service “resign” and threaten ind trib within 6 months of me joining the PC. The basis for the “resignation” and threat of tribunal was that the questions I’d been asking were “intimidating.”

The realisation that a fraud enquiry would be initiated was enough to make any fanciful ideas of ind trib disappear pretty quickly - a bit like the clerk really  but not before he unilaterally arranged for the PC laptop to be forensically wiped at the local IT store.
Much of the responsibility for that fiasco laid with the historic incompetence of the long standing members of the PC.
Now they have had another clerk “resign” after bullying and blackmailing the incompetent PC and are probably facing another ind trib - which has already been threatened by the outgoing clerk.
“Mary” - can’t help but wonder if that’s a pseudonym since it all sounds very familiar - might just be a coincidence of course.
Either there is a prevalence of incompetent PCs with appalling HR deficiencies or there are serious systemic problems with the way regional and national associations are “encouraging” clerks to take this route.
From my own very limited experience - since 2017, the PC I have an interest in has had a 20 year served clerk “resign” after being found out and the replacement came from another region of the country having done a moonlight flit there leaving under a cloud of incompetence, complaints and financial irregularities only to be recruited here (against minority (but well informed and suitably experienced/ qualified) advice) and has now been found to have threatened ind trib, had prolonged and repeated “sick” leave, public complaints and professional inadequacy.
What region are you in “Mary?”  If you say Cornwall I’d take a wager that you are using a pseudonym and I’d take a stab at exactly where you are
On the other hand, may be just a coincidence but either way - don’t be afraid of ind trib unless your PC is inept and incompetent - if it is the pc I have in mind you’ll hear the “I TOLD YOU SO!” ringing out for miles around
by (6.4k points)
No we are not in Cornwall purely coincidental.
Can you give me an answer to my question please
If there are grounds for constructive dismissal your PC will have to answer for any inadequacy that is claimed. If there aren’t, let them crack on. I’d “suggest” you might be better keeping your powder dry and reserving your misgivings about conduct rather than giving them your defence in advance.
Without knowing all the detail it’s impossible to know where the best course of action lays.
So actually, no, I can’t answer your question because it is too vague.
+1 vote
I presume that your clerk is serving a period of notice as set out in her contract. Are the issues with her conduct and financial irregularities a recent development, or is this something that has been ignored for a period of time? You say that you have been advised to have an investigation meeting with her. Who gave you this advice? If she proceeds with an employment tribunal case against you, the normal way to address this would be to hand matters over to the legal team associated with your insurance company. Regardless of whether this happens, you should notify your insurance company immediately that there is a possibility of legal action against the council, as this is a condition of your insurance. You should also take advice from your internal auditor regarding Box 8 on the Annual Governance Statement on your AGAR.

Whilst you may ask the clerk to attend this meeting, you cannot force her to and it is unlikely that she will, particularly if she is receiving professional advice. You have already conducted an exit interview with her. This meeting will help you to build your case against the clerk and will not help her in any way. The standard contract of employment for a clerk requires one month's notice, so she would be advised to take sick leave to avoid meetings of this nature. Your disciplinary policy applies only during her period of employment. If the financial irregularities are of a serious nature and amount to fraud or theft, you should consider involving the police, but proof will be required in order for them to take action.

Finally, to address your question regarding the procedure for setting up the meeting, the answer may lie in your own policies and procedures, particularly the terms of reference of your staffing committee, if you have one, or whatever other arrangements you may have for line management or supervision of the clerk.
by (52.8k points)
We have been advised by the legal advice dept through our insurance company to have this investigation meeting and report back to them after it whilst the person is still the clerk.
+2 votes
Welcome to the minefield that is HR in Parish Councils. In many cases that councillors are not fully trained in such matters which is a good case for mandatory training for councillors in their first 6 months of duty as PC's move further away from "getting the job done for the community" and enter "the world of box ticking"

Like it or not there are strict procedures to follow to avoid actions against the council regardless of assumptions made. Your committee terms of reference should clearly show whether such an "investigation" meeting can be held without council approval and therefore without a council meeting.

 As an employer you should be aware of whether the employee has grounds for a constructive dismissal claim ( due to their treatment) or is trying it on. These grounds of course may not come to light until a tribunal level is reached. Any meeting you have with the employee must be fully recorded and fully minuted for future reference.

 There is no such thing as an "informal" meeting in HR terms and it seems that the concerns  of the council on alleged behaviour were not approached before the resignation. If there are problems it is for the employer to identify them and take steps to rectify with support and training or even prosecution if required. If shown that they have done so takes away from the employee the reason of being "unfairly treated" leading to the call of "constructive dismissal"
by (25.8k points)

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