ellis-whittam-logo

How to deal with serious disciplinary matters

Guest Blog by Jane Hallas, Employment Law Principal and Head of Charity Clients at Ellis Whittam

Managers in the Charity Sector may have to deal with potential serious disciplinary issues from time to time. This practical guide sets out some important steps to follow if a serious misconduct issue arises, where the employee may be dismissed.

Step 1 – Check the Disciplinary Procedure

First of all check your Disciplinary Procedure as this will clarify whether the potential breach is classed as gross misconduct. It will also clarify the procedure to be followed and if employees have a right to be accompanied to investigation meetings and any timescales to follow.  Regardless of the procedure all serious disciplinary matters should follow the steps below as a minimum.

Step 2 – Investigate

As soon as you are aware of the potential issues, carry out an initial investigation to try and determine the facts.  This will normally involve interviewing individual employees who may have witnessed the incident or have some knowledge of the allegation. Inform them that the process is confidential but the minutes of their meeting will be disclosed if the matter proceeds to disciplinary action. Ideally, the investigation minutes should be typed and signed by each employee as a true record. Consider whether to suspend the accused employee; this will only be necessary if they could hinder the investigation or you need to protect the Charity. Suspension is normally on full pay.  Gather any relevant documentary evidence. Finally, question the employee who is alleged to be at fault.  Determine whether there is sufficient evidence of a case to answer. Try to be impartial: look for evidence that points to them not being guilty as much as for evidence that points to guilt.

Step 3 – Invitation to Disciplinary Hearing

If there is sufficient evidence pointing to culpability, appoint a new person to deal with the disciplinary matter and send an invitation letter with 48 hours notice of the hearing and ensure that it includes:

  1. a) details of the allegations, cross referencing to the appropriate part of the disciplinary procedure and other relevant procedure (include copies);
  2. b) evidence of the misconduct (including witness statements and documentary evidence);
  3. c) confirmation of the right to be accompanied by a Trade Union Representative or colleague;
  4. d) details of the possible outcome (this will normally be summary dismissal for allegations of gross misconduct).

Step 4 – Conduct the Disciplinary Hearing

The meeting should be conducted by somebody senior to the employee who was not involved in the investigation.  During the disciplinary hearing, the Disciplinary Manager  should discuss all the evidence with the employee to enable them  to determine what they believe happened.   When deciding the level of sanction, consider the employee’s length of service, how any similar cases have been dealt with in the past and any mitigating circumstances.

Confirm the decision in writing and offer a right of appeal if a disciplinary sanction is issued. Gross misconduct will normally mean no notice or pay in lieu of notice is given.

Step 4 – Appeal

If the employee appeals against the disciplinary outcome, a more senior person will normally conduct the appeal hearing.   The appeal should focus on the grounds of appeal and any procedural shortcomings in the earlier steps to ensure they are rectified.

For a free initial advice call – members please contact  0845 226 8393, ask for the Partnerships Legal Team and quote your ACEVO membership number

Chris Munday-08

Would I recommend it to anyone else considering a career change? Of course.

Guest Blog by Chris Munday, CEO of Crossways Community

‘So is it what you expected?’ everyone asks. What’s it really like running a charity? And I think, and take another sip of my drink and say ‘Well, I don’t think I knew quite what to expect, but I’m enjoying it’.

It had all sounded reasonably easy a couple of years beforehand.  I was a partner in a City law firm satisfied with my job but knowing that I didn’t want to end my working days there. My clients were charities and I had run our firm’s social responsibility programme, so I had wondered about moving sideways to the charitable sector. At home our children were flying the nest so change was in the air.

In typical lawyerly fashion I took lots of advice, then accepted my first ever piece of career coaching (in my arrogance I had never thought it important before), sweated hours over my CV and launched myself onto an unsuspecting charitable world. The result? – well initially a bit of damp squib if I’m honest. I applied for plenty of jobs; emphasised my transferrable skills, pointed to my ability to dissect a pile of complex legal documents and polished my brogues in readiness. Charities were interested in me, even curious but a lack of track record in charitable employment was unsurprisingly a bit of a drawback. I was learning one of my first lessons in this brave new world.

But eventually I was appointed as the Chief executive of Crossways Community; a mental health charity based in Kent. I told the panel emphatically at my interviews that I knew nothing about mental health. They nodded sagely, (probably swallowed hard) and offered me the job anyway. And it’s great. There are lots of great things about running a charity: the first is a cliché, but it is wonderful to be able to have a direct impact on improving the lives of disadvantaged people, rather than just enabling others to do so.

I have to admit that being in charge is rather fun too. Being able to go a meeting and say ‘why don’t we do this?’ is energising. Being responsible for people’s careers and livelihoods is daunting but feels good.

Most of all I feel that I’m working in the real world. Being in City was huge fun and a privilege but for me it always felt a bit unreal. Here the decisions that I and my team make impact directly on real people. So we want to make sure we get those decisions right. That means using all our abilities, brain power and energies to achieve that. Because if we get it wrong then I can’t just shrug and say ‘Well I’m only the lawyer’.

And it’s a revelation to be the conductor in front of the orchestra; seeing how everyone’s contributions are necessary, being responsible for the overall sound and desperately hoping that nobody notices the odd squeak. My learning curve is almost perpendicular and my brain occasionally aches as I learn how to lead this organisation. But I know I needed more brain stimulation after over twenty years in the same job and it’s a refreshing (and scary) change.

I’ve discovered that building a team at all levels in the organisation is a vital and time-consuming task. I knew that in my head but have discovered that team building doesn’t happen by magic. I have learnt that I need to spend time getting to know how my staff tick so that I can ensure they are happy and working well.

While we’re talking about investing in relationships, I have discovered that I need to invest time in my relationship with my trustees and especially my Chair. The relationship between a chair and a Chief executive is unusual: part mentor, part line manager, part colleague. Not a relationship I’d ever had before.

And what about the not-so-good bits. Well you have to be resourceful: if my computer plays up I don’t have a host of helpful IT bods to turn up and sort it. So you use your common sense or Google the problem on your phone and hope for the best.

A law firm, like most of the professional services world, is focussed on targets, outputs and bottom lines. It has taken me some time, and quite a bit of rethinking, at Crossways to become less target driven, not always to expect instant results and to see issues in the context of real people’s lives and problems.

Its surreal going to meetings where I still don’t quite understand completely what’s going on and where acronyms and jargon fly around like tennis balls on Centre Court. But I have learnt that it’s OK, and indeed crucial, to say ‘I’m sorry can you explain what you mean by that please’. That’s a refreshing change – as a lawyer it’s hard to admit you don’t know the answer but when you’re the new boy you need to swallow your pride and ask.

My biggest problem has been loneliness despite being surrounded by people. In my previous role when I was stuck on a problem or needed to have a good moan I simply pushed back my chair, turned to my neighbour and asked their advice. Simple, easy and effective. But when you’re the boss and you’re not sure of one of your decisions, who do you ask?  There’s always your Chair but you don’t want to keep asking him or her all the time- after all you need them to keep thinking that you’re brilliant.

Sometimes I have discovered you just need to be brave, have the courage of your convictions and go for a decision. Other times you need a mentor or two. Or in my case three. Being able to do some guilt free unburdening and questioning with wise and neutral folks who have been in this game a while has been an essential and thoroughly enjoyable part of my new life. I also realised that I need proper further training so I am starting an MSc in Charity leadership later this year.

So is it what I expected? Not sure? Is it what I want? Absolutely yes. Would I recommend it to anyone else considering a career change? Of course.

shutterstock_316792295

When is an asset a liability?

What is a Community Asset Transfer?

For those that may need a quick refresher – Local authority organisations sometimes conduct an asset transfer to voluntary or community led organisations. This is usually in return for reduced or minimal rents, preferential terms or a full ownership transfer. This can come in the form of short-term licences to long-term leases and can involve the management or ownership of buildings and/or land.

Giving local organisations the opportunity to manage these facilities helps provide independence and financial sustainability, whilst creating lasting change in local neighbourhoods. So far, so good.

However, resources and time are often in short supply in these situations, especially in the initial rush to save assets from being lost for future community benefit. Site selection and feasibility, options for alternative uses and deadlines for funding may all impact on the ‘window of opportunity’ afforded communities.

Community organisations should not allow external pressures to force them into agreeing to something if they are not convinced of a project’s potential to be viable, manageable and sustainable.

Top tips for a CAT

  • It is important to be clear about who owns or is responsible for what under the agreement, including any accompanying land.
  • Use realistic timescales as CATs can take a long time to process.
  • Involve legal advisors from the beginning, on both sides, to make sure everything is done correctly.
  • Check that the Local Authority has the power to successfully transfer the asset before you undertake any work at risk.
  • Make sure that all documents involved are correctly reviewed by legal advisors.

Protecting your assets

As part of your asset transfer you may be required (depending on the terms) to be responsible for insuring buildings, land, sports grounds, playgrounds and so on. It’s important that adequate insurance is in place with the correct sums insured. The cover to be considered should include;

  • Buildings insurance (possibly including accidental damage and subsidence). It’s worth bearing in mind that some properties may have difficulty securing buildings insurance such as those in high flood risk areas. Please note that any smaller structures such as sports sheds or port cabins also come under this section.
  • Contents insurance that come as part of the transfer (i.e. sports equipment, furniture, carpets and other associated flooring, blinds and curtains, kitchen equipment to name a few).
  • Business Interruption insurance; this cover is only available where there is a material damage risk (i.e. buildings or contents insurance).
  • Liabilities; it’s important that all premises are listed under your policy and if the transfer includes sites away from the main premises, such as community playgrounds or sports fields, they also need to be declared to insurers.

This blog was written by ACEVO, with the kind support of Endsleigh.

To discuss your insurance needs in more detail, contact your dedicated Endsleigh Account Manager, Rachael Romasanta on telephone number 07841 496839 or email Rachael.romasanta@endsleigh.co.uk. More information on Endsleigh can be found here.

blogphoto3

Endsleigh ACEVO Competition 2015

Following the success of previous competitions, Endsleigh decided to launch another competition at the 2015 ACEVO conference held at the Victoria Park Plaza on November 18th 2015. The prize included the chance to win a £1,000 sponsorship and up to five Endsleigh volunteers to support an initiative of the winner’s choice. All entrants were asked to do was provide their business card at the Endsleigh stand.

The competition got off to a great start with over 50 charities and trusts entering.

We met some really inspiring leaders and it was great to hear about all the great work ACEVO members were participating in.

The lucky winner was

Together for Short Lives

Who are Together for Short Lives?

Together for Short Lives is the UK charity that, together with their members, speaks out for children and young people who are expected to have short lives. Together with everyone who provides care and support to these children and families, they are there to help them have as fulfilling lives as possible and the very best care at the end of life. They can’t change the diagnosis, but they can help children and families make the most of their time together.

How did Endsleigh support?

After much deliberation Together for Short Lives decided to invest the prize monies in reviewing and developing Together for Short Lives brand values. They undertook a piece of work to identify the driving forces behind the charity and what makes them unique. As a result, they have developed five core values and a statement about their work. The prize money allowed them to communicate the message with new literature.

Although Together for Short Lives could not utilise the five Endsleigh volunteers directly, they put us in touch with Children’s Hospice South West.

CHSW

After speaking directly with the Hospice it was decided that we would be able to add the most value by spending the day at one of the Hospice’s charity shops, based in Bristol.

The day consisted of many activities such as; processing new stock, cleaning toys so they were ready for re-sale, tidying the stock room, pricing and general tidying of the store.

 

The team at Endsleigh were delighted to get a lovely thank you from Together for Short Lives, along with some feedback from Barbara Gelb, CEO and Katrina Kelly, Communications Officer at TFSL;

‘Thanks Rachael, I wanted to say just how delighted I am about the work that you have been doing with our team, and the support that Endsleigh has been able to give to our values work, as well as to Children’s Hospice South West

Really brilliant result!

Thank you so much for all your support for the charity’s work.

All best wishes’


Barbara Gelb OBE
Chief Executive
Together for Short Lives

‘We are very grateful to Endsleigh Insurances (Brokers) Limited for supporting Together for Short Lives. Their kind donation has helped us bring our organisational values to life – commissioning some lovely artwork to show the driving principles behind our work to make life better for seriously ill children and their families.

Best wishes

Katrina’

Katrina Kelly | Communications Officer

We in turn would like to give Together for Short Lives and Children’s Hospice South West a huge thank you for allowing us to be part of their re-branding and Charity shop operations. We wish them well for the future.

Endsleigh_RGB_Colour

Endsleigh will be opening the 2016 prize draw at the 2016 conference. Please look out for our autumn blog with details on how and when you can enter. Don’t forget we will be at the Annual Conference in November where you can come and meet the team and enter on the day.

sadiq-khan-mayor-of-london-600x400

Peter Lewis: Stimulating philanthropy with a clear ask can help the new London Mayor deliver his objectives

Guest Blog by Peter Lewis, CEO, Institute of Fundraising
Originally posted on UKFundraising

The new Mayor of , Sadiq Khan, has made a welcome commitment to be a Mayor for all Londoners, but he faces big challenges ahead: tackling the housing crisis, rising inequality, and air pollution levels, at the same time as cuts to services hit many of the most disadvantaged Londoners.

His formal powers and budgets are limited to key areas – primarily housing, transport, and policing – but with a huge mandate from London (the biggest personal electoral mandate in the UK in fact), and as the Mayor of one of the world’s greatest cities, he has the power to make a difference simply by bringing people together.

London’s voluntary and community organisations work tirelessly to make London a better place:

  • supporting homeless people;
  • campaigning to make London more cycle friendly while building the cycle lanes that make that a reality;
  • working with young Londoners to tackle knife and gun crime,
  • and simultaneously offering them real opportunities to contribute.

It’s often voluntary organisations who take responsibility for their own communities: highlighting areas that need improvement or working to on local solutions to reduce pollution, maintain the parks, and keep the youth clubs open and welcoming.

At the Institute of Fundraising we are doing just that and working with Cardboard Citizens on a production of Cathy Come Home, highlighting the issue of homelessness 50 years on from the original broadcast of Ken Loach’s film. How better to highlight that homelessness still has such a huge impact on our City than by getting those who have been directly impacted to perform this infamous story.

Yet the voluntary and community sector itself has been hit hard by cuts over the last few years. Many local authorities no longer have the discretionary budgets to offer the support to advice centres, youth clubs, drop in centres, or women’s refuges that they used to. A whole panoply of services has been reduced or ceased to exist. And still the voluntary sector spirit, the volunteers, the commitment to make the world a better place lives on.

Bringing the sectors together

This is where the Mayor could use his convening power to good effect. He could bring together London’s voluntary and community sector, London’s business sector, London’s trusts and foundations, and London’s statutory sector to identify key issues to be tackled together, and work through solutions to those problems.

With its expertise in the issues at hand, its ability to find creative solutions, and its enthusiasm for positive change, London’s voluntary and community sector should be a true partner to the Mayor, statutory and business sectors, to meet London’s key priorities.

What do businesses need? Businesses need their employees to be able to get quickly and easily to work. Businesses need their employees fit and healthy, without fear of crime or domestic violence. In other words, the voluntary sector, itself 7% of London’ s workforce, can help address problems that are concerns for the business sector as much as for anyone else. These are shared problems, and the sectors should come together to find shared solutions.

Business can bring its expertise, and employee volunteers, but it can also bring more financial support to tackle these shared issues. Charity Commission data shows corporate giving has dipped recently, from an already low contribution of just 3% of charitable income. And at the same time we know that many senior business people give generously to causes they care about, either directly or through dedicated intermediaries.

London and

London has taken some good steps in encouraging philanthropy recently – the Mayor’s Fund, Islington Giving, the City Philanthropy initiative, London United Way, London Community Foundation, to name but a few. Evidence shows that these kind of propositions do not displace funds for other causes – corporates and individuals still give separately to these – but add to them. But these initiatives are small and disjointed compared to Toronto’s Vital Signs, New York’s Community Foundation or Chicago’s United Way.

The Mayor should bring all these initiatives, and others, together; convene London’s business, statutory and voluntary sectors and agree clear priorities. He should support them to develop a truly London-wide initiative to raise funds for these priorities with clear, unambiguous propositions – perhaps one each year. The funds raised can then be put into action through the best and most appropriate organisations for the benefit of all Londoners.