Quoting from a "step by step guide" issued to callers to the helpline:
"This Step By Step Guide has been written by Christine Pratt, FCIPD and FCMI, for The National Bullying Helpline (NBH). It is designed to help both employees and employers who find themselves subject to disputes or contentious work related issues and it is valued at circa £800 if you consider the content in terms of a 3 hour consultation with an Employment Law Solicitor at circa £250 per hour."
"If you still need help, before invoking a Tribunal claim or instructing a solicitor, consider using us as a Third Party Dispute Resolution Service. The DTI recommend this approach (See Page 20: Michael Gibbons Review).[Non sequitur follows] We have helped resolve many situations through an employee going to their Executive Management and asking for an independent investigation into their dispute/grievance. Most of our work is done in this area and we have proved extremely successful in ‘taking the heat out of a situation’ and persuading both the employer and employee to settle out of Court. [was this planned for the employee X case?] Talk to someone you trust at work, at a senior level, and recommend this as a ‘way forward’. Generally, employers will welcome a positive approach to a problem and by recommending this service you will acquire a real feel for whether your employer is a ‘caring’ employer, or not."___
(Callers are encouraged to allow HR & DM to contact their employer using the template letter (below), sent out to Bullying Helpline callers as part of the "information pack". This is verbatim)
(You need to fill in the details and personalise the letter)
To the Chief Executive (or most senior Manager).
Dear Sir / Madam,[at the time the MD of HR&DM was Christine Pratt. Comapnies House records reveal that she subsequently resigned, to conceal the obvious link between HR&DM and NBH]
Re: Request for Independent Investigation / Mediation
Following my letter / grievance letter submitted on …… (provide some details), I have been feeling increasingly unwell and have now been signed off work for Work Related Stress by my GP for a period of ….. The treatment I am enduring presently is making me feel unwell.
I would therefore like to formally request that you authorise/ instigate an independent investigation or mediation in respect of concerns I have regarding my employment situation. This approach is less confrontational than a formal process as both parties may be able to reach an amicable solution.
I have identified a Company, HR & Diversity Management Limited (HR&DM) who specialise in providing a complete Dispute Resolution service (both independent investigations and/or a mediation service). I ask that you now authorise this company to assist in this case. HR&DM are professional personnel advisers and independent mediators in cases of workplace conflict. They have full professional indemnity insurance (up to £1million) and have a team of expert advisers and specialists, all CIPD qualified, that work in the field of dispute resolution. Please find attached portfolio. The MD of HR&DM is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.
The benefits of involving HR&DM are as follows; a) HR&DM is an entirely independent Company b) management can ‘stand back’ and need not get involved in the process, so could claim that they did not influence the outcome in any way c) Trade Union’s approve of this approach d) Solicitors approve of this approach e) the report HR&DM produces, marked for your attention, will contain recommendations and dispute resolution remedies f) If appropriate, HR&DM will mediate and will endeavour to assist both parties resolve matters g) HR&DM will observe whether procedures have been followed and will make positive, written, recommendation to you, the employer, at the conclusion of the investigation.
This process can be extremely positive and will greatly assist you in understanding what the problems are that are causing me such distress. I would like to explore the option of this ‘less confrontational’ approach and hope you will be in agreement.
I attach details on Mediation and Investigations. Please contact HR&DM on Tel: 0901 742 0388 or see: www.hrdiversity.co.uk for further details. Alternatively, email : email@example.com
I look forward to hearing from you.
(The template letter continues with a sales brochure for HR&DM which includes the excerpts below)
"At the outset of every project, HR & Diversity Management Limited (HR&DM) enter into a Confidentiality Agreement with the Client, to agree terms and a working methodology. An Investigation into workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination, for example, can take from 3 weeks to 3 months and from a costing perspective may be justified in terms of cost of litigation and damage to the organisation, if a contentious situation is not resolved amicably. HR&DM observes Data Protection Laws. Witnesses are interviewed and statements are collated observing statutory rights ie: Right to Be Accompanied and right to remain anonymous (Case Law Asda v Others). Internal policies and procedures are followed also. Statements are typed up and are sent to the witness for approval and signature before facts contained in the statements are taken into account or referred to in the final report. If the alleged victim is stressed, or off work, she/he is asked to sign a Medical Waiver to show that they have consented to the investigation. (This is done even when the employee has instigated the investigation via the National Bullying Help Line run by HR&DM).____
As part of the investigation, HR&DM will look at a number of issues, both internal and external to the organisation. The final Report will contain recommendations for resolution and may also include recommendations regarding coaching, training, stress counseling etc."
In this case, Christine Pratt will project manage the case.
...Please expect a call from HR&DM and or feel free to make direct contact with Christine Pratt by telephoning ...
(After a helpline caller had done as suggested, recommended HR&DM to the employer and HR&DM were appointed to conduct the independent, impartial and fair investigation, Christine Pratt produced a report which included this statement):
"Conifict of interest. Employment Law Solicitors will take instructions from an employee or an employer and advise them on employment matters but will not represent both parties at the same time, as this places them is a position described as a ‘conflict of interest’. HR & Diversity Management Limited operates in exactly the same way. At no time will we act for both the employee and the employer."___
Compare: http://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/contact.html where it says:-
"In a situation where you may wish us to support you in bringing a complaint we do not represent both parties in a dispute unless we are explicitly invited to do so for mediation purposes"