He had a learning disability which affected his ability to speak up for himself. He would become tongue tied – get his words mixed up, become very stressed and overwhelmed. He also suffered with poor mental health and high levels of anxiety.
During the first Covid lockdown his anxiety was very high, and he became very worried about his family. He was afraid that he could pick up Covid at work and bring it back home to his vulnerable family members.
At the same time he was being very heavily criticised for his work. His supervisor would walk him about the unit pointing out the areas he had missed that morning in front of others. He also found out that he had a derogative nickname.
He became ill and was signed off with stress. Occupational Health advised that he could not go back to work in the same area. As a consequence, he was then taken down a redeployment route. If he did not find himself an alternative job by the end of February 2022 the Trust would terminate his contract. He was given no support finding an alternative job.
After I met with this worker, I met with his Service Director, Senior Manager and HR Business Partner and relayed his story to them with his permission. They were shocked and dismayed at the situation. This service had so many vacancies in other departments close by; all that need to happen was for him to be transferred into one these.
The redeployment process was stopped, and the worker was transferred to a vacant post elsewhere. A formal investigation was carried out into the allegations of bullying and harassment which has since been concluded.
This member of staff did not fully understand some of the conversations which were had. There was a lot of ‘HR speak’ and this was fed back to HR who have improved their processes, including the process for redeployment.
In addition, the findings from the investigation were fed back to the senior line manager who has incorporated the learning from this experience into new ways of working within the department.
If the Freedom to Speak Up service had not been contacted, we would have lost a great worker for no good reason, not to mention the impact on him as a person. We have a much happier worker and one less vacancy to fill.
This 100 voices story is included in the National Guardian’s Office 2022 Annual Report
If you would like to share a speaking up story for our 100 Voices campaign, please contact [email protected] for more information.