There have been numerous speculative comments on social media and at various meetings in relation to ongoing HR issues within the club.

This statement addresses the facts relating to the HR issues.

Following the lodging of a grievance by an employee, the club appointed Director Simon Sadler to investigate. On undertaking the activity it was clear to Simon that there was a separate issue that had been ongoing for some time, which required the scope of the investigation to be widened. This increased the complexity considerably and coupled with the time of year, has meant the investigation has taken longer than anticipated.

In addition, due in part to the speculation on social media, the Directors decided it would be prudent that Simon’s report be considered by the newly appointed Directors and an independent person with experience in such matters.  Directors Charlie Hopkins and Malcolm Temple along with Trust member Colin Everett were asked to consider the findings of the report. The panel accepted the findings of the report and recommended that the report be considered at a special Board meeting.  

The resultant report was considered at a special Board meeting on Monday 16th August. Director Tony Pring declared a pecuniary interest and did not attend. This Statement follows formal meetings with those involved to make them aware of the Board decisions.

The report concluded that the initial grievance brought by a member of staff should not be upheld. The authors, however, did acknowledge the Club’s handling of the situation could have been better and improvements need to be put in place.  

In addition, the secondary issue that came to light when the grievance was investigated centred around an allegation that on a number of occasions e a member of staff  had submitted inappropriate timesheets seeking overtime payment. The claims had not been paid since they were under review. Previous claims had been authorised by Club Management and are therefore considered to be valid. The Report concludes that there is no evidence of falsification of records, but instead, an issue surrounding instances in which overtime and/or enhanced pay rates should apply. In addition, the Report concludes that the individual should have sought prior authorisation, and themselves realised that some of the claims were unreasonable. However, set against this is the fact that inter alia, there is an absence of Club policy in relation to standard terms of employment for the individual concerned, no code of conduct and no overtime payment policy. That aspect must fall on Management and the Board. Given the position, the member of staff has received a warning and will be provided with appropriate guidance and closer management in future to avoid any such repeat.

It is important to appreciate that there is no evidence that the Club has suffered financial loss around the issue. Despite the fact that one of the Directors has a personal relationship with the individual, there is no evidence from those involved in the payment process that any Director has sought to influence payment of the overtime claims.

The Report authors wish to stress that what has been revealed is somewhat a consequence of the Club situation inherited by the Trust and the considerable pressure on the initial Directors to regularise the Club’s financial and on field position.  It has been a matter of priorities. The new, larger Board now has the resources to tackle outstanding issues and to implement sound policies, practices and management arrangements.

To move forward, the Board will consider the approval of HR policy to cover the recommendations identified in the report. These are: a code of conduct for employees, an overtime payment policy, a performance management and appraisal review policy, a grievance policy, a whistleblowing policy and a lone working policy. This work has already started and will be delivered by the Operations Committee. 

In addition, with immediate effect, the Board has adopted a Register of Interests with set procedures for the declaration of conflicts of interests by both Directors and employees. Further and henceforth, two nominated Directors only shall be authorised to sign employment contracts, vary contracts within employment policy and approve progression from probationary periods. In the event either has a conflict, another member of the Board will deputise.

Furthermore and as part of the clubs drive to operate more effectively there will be a review of the current operation of both retail and ticketing

In summary:

  • The findings of the report have been considered and accepted by an independent panel
  • The grievance has not been upheld
  • The allegation of falsifying records has not been upheld
  • Action has been taken in relation to the fact some of the claims were unreasonable
  • The club has not suffered any financial loss
  • HR policy will be put in place for all employees no later than 16th October
  • Review of both retail and ticketing will commence and report no later than 16th October
  • Declaration of interests register will be put in place immediately
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