Five staff sacked after hearings

FIVE employees were dismissed by Suffolk County Council last year out of a total of 74 staff disciplinary hearings, it emerged today.One person was sacked for sexual misconduct, another for misrepresentation on a job application, two people were fired for inappropriate behaviour and another person for misuse of council property.

FIVE employees were dismissed by Suffolk County Council last year out of a total of 74 staff disciplinary hearings, it emerged today.

One person was sacked for sexual misconduct, another for misrepresentation on a job application, two people were fired for inappropriate behaviour and another person for misuse of council property.

Figures into the council's formal staff disciplinary and grievance investigations have also revealed that 20 written warnings were given out, six people resigned and details of one case was passed to the police because of theft or fraud allegations.

Six final written warnings were also given for two cases of harassment, one of mistreating a resident, negligence resulting in injury to a resident, fraudulent claims and inappropriate behaviour.

The details have been released under the Freedom of Information Act following a request by The Evening Star.

The 74 formal disciplinary hearings exclude school staff as different procedures apply to them.

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The figures do not detail the number of cases which are dealt with informally.

A council spokesman said: “Disciplinary cases and grievances are dealt with informally in the first instance by line managers.

“If issues persist, there are formal procedures to follow, and human resources staff are involved to provide detailed advice. These figures relate to formal procedures carried out by the county council.”

Out of the 74 formal disciplinary hearings:

N Five were about sexual harassment/misconduct

N Five were about theft

N 28 were about inappropriate behaviour

The others were for reasons ranging from non-disclosure of convictions to performance issues, fraudulent claims and persistent lateness.

Punishments alongside the dismissals and written warnings included 28 management interviews. Five of the cases are subject to on-going investigations.

Although details of disciplinary cases and grievances have been given together, the council says very few of the cases where formal action has been taken have been for grievances.

The council spokesman said: “Most grievances are dealt with informally by line managers.

“There were just five grievances dealt with through the formal procedures - these concerned the application or interpretation of employees' terms and conditions.

“Each case was judged on its own merit. To provide further information would enable individuals to be identified.”

Councillor Sue Sida-Lockett, deputy leader of the council, said: “These disciplinary and grievance procedures cover around 18,000 of our staff, and I'm pleased that it's just a very, very small number of cases that reach the formal stage.

“Staff are our greatest asset and it's important that we try to resolve issues as quickly and effectively as possible - for the staff concerned, and also to protect the service they provide for the people of Suffolk.”

Among the formal disciplinary hearings held by Suffolk County Council in 2005 were:

N Twenty-eight were about inappropriate behaviour (which includes verbal abuse, offensive language, rudeness, negligence, insubordination and harassment).

N Eleven were about mistreatment of residents - this may involve people in county council residential homes with learning difficulties and can cover a range of inappropriate behaviour such as not complying with manual handling practices.

N Seven were about negligence resulting in injury to residents

N Five were about sexual harassment/misconduct

N Five were about theft

Outcomes of Suffolk County Council's formal disciplinary hearings included:

N Twenty-eight people receiving a management interview

N Fourteen people receiving a first written warning

N Six people received final written warnings

N Six people resigned

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