SidVicious7
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Recently I've been in employment with a company, for a continuous period of around 2 months. I got the job as a favour from a family member, so didn't require any interview etc just that I start the next day. Therefore, hourly wage was not formally identified just that it could be around £7 an hour, or perhaps minimum wage for my age (£5.90), but nothing official. Anyways, three weeks later my first pay slip came through, at a rate of £7.38 per hour, which I was happy with as if it was £5.90 I would have left as I didn't feel it was worth the work that I was doing. Few weeks later I received my contract given to me by the company through the post, to which I signed, with my basic pay being £7.38 an hour. Then, my next monthly payment came through at £5.90, to which I chased up on with the head office and got told that the initial £7.38 was a mistake and £5.90 is correct. I informed them that regardless, I have signed a contract and have worked the past month on the basis of £7.38 an hour wage and therefore I am owed that for the hours worked. I was told no, and that instead i now owe the company around £150 for the first months payment as I was "overpaid" at £7.38 per hour. When I disputed this further, the owner of the company informed my manager that I am receiving a one week notice whereby after which I would no longer be getting paid, and that I will no longer be working at the company. I am on a 6 months probationary period so all that is required is a one week notice, however I feel this was given only because of the pay dispute, as two weeks prior to this I was asked if I can stay on as part-time once I return to my studies. I am unsure what to do and thought I would seek some advice on which legal avenues I may be able to take, if any, as I feel wronged by this company particularly with breaching of the contract and an unfair dismissal. Any help would be appreciated
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Joleee
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do you have a service in town that gives free legal advice? i know there are drop in centres around. i don't know if Citizens Advice could help.

your contract specifically said 7.38 so regardless if it was a mistake, i don't know how they can go back on it. my concern tho is i don't know how much freedom they have to let you go if you're still on probation. what does your contract say? sorry you work for such a sh*tty company btw.
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SidVicious7
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I'm not sure about a service in town that gives free advice, but I do know that I can go through employment tribunal, which is free? There are one or two other options but I'm just unsure on how to go about this situation.

My contract states that as I am on probation, the company can terminate my contract at any time with one weeks notice. But that is not the issue, I was planning to leave once University started next month anyway. My point is that they have only terminated my contract because of this pay dispute and with me emailing etc and not just accepting whatever they say. The contract specifically states £7.38 and nothing about minimum wage etc so I'm fairly confident as a current law student that they have no other option but to pay me, but I don't want to mess it up as I'll only have one chance to take action
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Joleee
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(Original post by SidVicious7)
I'm not sure about a service in town that gives free advice, but I do know that I can go through employment tribunal, which is free? There are one or two other options but I'm just unsure on how to go about this situation.

My contract states that as I am on probation, the company can terminate my contract at any time with one weeks notice. But that is not the issue, I was planning to leave once University started next month anyway. My point is that they have only terminated my contract because of this pay dispute and with me emailing etc and not just accepting whatever they say. The contract specifically states £7.38 and nothing about minimum wage etc so I'm fairly confident as a current law student that they have no other option but to pay me, but I don't want to mess it up as I'll only have one chance to take action
if you click on the link i sent you it should take you to a list of free legal advice centres; you might find one in your area. i don't know about the free employment tribunal, i'd have to google it. my point about your probation is that even if you think it's because of the pay wage, they might still be able to terminate you; they'll just give different reasons for it, like you weren't learning fast enough or whatever they want to say. that's how employers take advantage of people on probation, unfortunately. but you don't want to work for them anymore, so what would you hope to get at the tribunal?
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SidVicious7
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Yes, thank you very much I just clicked and I'll check it out properly, it does seem to cover the problems that I am having.

Also, my point about them terminating my contract due to pay disputes is simply an extra point that I can make against the company if I bring a claim against them. What I seek to gain is the loss of earnings that have added up, and compensation for them breaching a legally binding contract. I'm not the first that they'll have done this to, they have over 90 stores and I've spoken to some of my colleagues and let's just say they don't exactly believe in rewarding employees.

I wanted to know if I have a legal right to claim or if I'm biased towards myself?
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Joleee
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(Original post by SidVicious7)
Yes, thank you very much I just clicked and I'll check it out properly, it does seem to cover the problems that I am having.

Also, my point about them terminating my contract due to pay disputes is simply an extra point that I can make against the company if I bring a claim against them. What I seek to gain is the loss of earnings that have added up, and compensation for them breaching a legally binding contract. I'm not the first that they'll have done this to, they have over 90 stores and I've spoken to some of my colleagues and let's just say they don't exactly believe in rewarding employees.

I wanted to know if I have a legal right to claim or if I'm biased towards myself?
you're likely entitled to the difference for those hours you worked and they only paid you 5.90. i think you really need to find out what their reasons were for dismissal so you know if you have an argument or they were in their legal right. then, find out how to make a claim and give your company a warning you're prepared to do this. they might just cave in and pay without going through the process. i had a similar situation in Canada and that's what happened to me. p.s everyone is biased towards themself so i wouldn't worry about it.
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SidVicious7
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Yeah I'm adamant that they must pay me and honour the contract. I enquired today and they told me that they do not give out written notices.. so tomorrow I will email to ask for the reason behind my dismissal and then I can have that on record,

There is a local citizens advice place near to me so I will head down on Tuesday with all my evidence and see what they say.
I intend to write a grievance letter to the company, so I can have proof of trying to solve the matter internally, and then go through ACAS and try and come to a solution internally through a settlement. If not, then I guess I'll have little choice but to pursue the matter at employment tribunal and see where that gets me.

Fingers crossed...
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SamuelSingleton
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The difference in pay is actually your only point given that you're on a probationary period.

From your description it appears you're still working for them and for that reason you can't claim compensation for loss of earnings (unless talking specifically about the pay deduction), and you almost certainly won't get a financial sum for breach of contract that extends above the pervious amount (this being because you're on probation, you automatically won't have the required length of employment to bring an unfair dismissal claim, which is the basis of your compensation argument).

Why? Because you're still employed by them, you can't make a claim against them to employment tribunal, you can only make a claim in court. Once you've finished working for them, you can make a claim in employment tribunal, but your total hours there will already be final, there would be no further loss of earnings because you're no longer an employee.
If you want to make a claim against them, you would only be entitled to the difference in pay (£7.38 - £5.90, £1.48 x total hours for your second months pay considering you've already been paid £7.38 for the first month). Is it worth a court case (now) or tribunal (later) for approx £50 considering the fees? probably not, but that's up to you to decide, and if you lose a court battle, it will cost you a lot more realistically

If they bring a claim against you for the £150 owed, you are of course entitled to dispute that with your contract and counterclaim for earning deductions, but you're better off filing a claim of unlawful deduction of wages for this. In this case it's only if you still want to pursue the money and it unequivocally says in your contract you will be paid £7.38.

Bare in mind also, whilst it wouldn't hurt you in any sense to bring up a grievance procedure, there's no legally binding process that needs to be followed with this and so no matter how strong you think your case may be, you don't know your employers case.
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SamuelSingleton
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Sorry, edited my above post to include more of your concerns ^
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SidVicious7
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Cheers for the reply Sam, I actually feel as though there are a few more points however.
I am still working for them but have been given a week paid notice to leave so as of next Friday I will no longer be working for them, which is when I would intend to take action. In the meantime I will be writing a grievance letter and then contacting ACAS, so employment tribunal would be last resort.

My first month pay of £7.38 was for 113.5 hours, which they intend to deduct the difference of £5.90 this month, which would amount to roughly £170.
The second month of 156 hours worked in that month, at £5.90, would see a difference of £230..
On top of this next and final month which would be around 78 hours with a difference of £115
That, along with the accrued holiday pay entitlement which would stand at around 4.7 days, equalling around £300 pay, would result in a total deduction of earnings of £815 (assuming they do not pay me the accrued holiday pay) so if you ask me, £815 is definitely worth pursuing!

Also, with regards to the loss of earnings, my point would be the fact that I had turned down other job offers over the summer with certain hourly wages, on the basis that I was getting paid £7.38 an hour from this company. That, along with a signed contract stating £7.38 as my hourly wage, and no mention of minimum wage etc, would surely see the law being on my side.

There are other issues as well, such as being told I am insured to load customer cars outside the store, with regards to damaging their cars, and injuring myself, only to be denied access to the company policy with regard to this after enquiring many times over email and phone, only to be finally told this week that there is no real policy and that we are basically not insured. I know this is a separate issue but surely lying to employees about being insured is a serious matter, and can be used against them.

Also, with regards to probationary period, I was asked to stay on as part time once the summer is over, with witnesses, and now suddenly two weeks later after the dispute, am given a week notice to terminate contract, whilst it is in their right, surely this is not a coincidence and can also be used against them.
With regards to this am I entitled to a written notice, or the reason behind dismissal?
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SamuelSingleton
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(Original post by SidVicious7)
Cheers for the reply Sam, I actually feel as though there are a few more points however.
I am still working for them but have been given a week paid notice to leave so as of next Friday I will no longer be working for them, which is when I would intend to take action. In the meantime I will be writing a grievance letter and then contacting ACAS, so employment tribunal would be last resort.

My first month pay of £7.38 was for 113.5 hours, which they intend to deduct the difference of £5.90 this month, which would amount to roughly £170.
The second month of 156 hours worked in that month, at £5.90, would see a difference of £230..
On top of this next and final month which would be around 78 hours with a difference of £115
That, along with the accrued holiday pay entitlement which would stand at around 4.7 days, equalling around £300 pay, would result in a total deduction of earnings of £815 (assuming they do not pay me the accrued holiday pay) so if you ask me, £815 is definitely worth pursuing!

Also, with regards to the loss of earnings, my point would be the fact that I had turned down other job offers over the summer with certain hourly wages, on the basis that I was getting paid £7.38 an hour from this company. That, along with a signed contract stating £7.38 as my hourly wage, and no mention of minimum wage etc, would surely see the law being on my side.

There are other issues as well, such as being told I am insured to load customer cars outside the store, with regards to damaging their cars, and injuring myself, only to be denied access to the company policy with regard to this after enquiring many times over email and phone, only to be finally told this week that there is no real policy and that we are basically not insured. I know this is a separate issue but surely lying to employees about being insured is a serious matter, and can be used against them.

Also, with regards to probationary period, I was asked to stay on as part time once the summer is over, with witnesses, and now suddenly two weeks later after the dispute, am given a week notice to terminate contract, whilst it is in their right, surely this is not a coincidence and can also be used against them.
With regards to this am I entitled to a written notice, or the reason behind dismissal?
Thanks for clearing that up. Once your employment is terminated you qualify for the tribunal route but there are still some considerations you might want to think about.

With regards to your pay, you're definitely entitled to your holiday pay but you would get that paid anyway (that's a right separate from probation) so don't worry about that money you can't preempt that they wont pay that. So your claim is they've changed your pay without your permission and therefore if they choose to pursue repayment of overpaid wages, then you have your contract and would likely win any counterclaim, that is their fault with the contract, no denying it - but you need to wait for them to a) deduct it or b) claim for it back and then use your contract as evidence it's yours. As a side, where you said there's no mention of minimum, the contract just needs to say your hourly rate and doesn't need to mention the minimum wage it's just evidence you're being paid it

It's the loss of earnings you'll struggle with. You would need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is their fault you accrued loss of earnings by working for them as opposed to another company. In reality it's not, given by your admission that you signed a contract (which would state X hours per week or 0 is implied) you essentially relinquish any loss of earnings by going to them, and the money you 'could have' earned over summer with someone else is foregone.

You personally won't get any financial gain by bringing up about the lack of insurance (but i think you recognise that) and that would just lead to fines for your employer, so do that if you want.

And finally, staying on doesn't negate you're still on probation unfortunately, with or without a witness. Probations just lower the risk to employers and nothing legally exists stating that a company is obliged to keep you. For that reason you're not entitled to an unfair dismissal claim because the notice is the correct notice for your employment duration (1 week for employees of 1 month - 2 years unless otherwise in your contract) and notices can be verbal and take effect the day after you're told (it's just common practice for it to be formally written). You can ask why, but my concern would be no (smart) employer is going to put in writing "refused to take a pay cut" and it would be up to you to prove that, coincidence is a funny thing which is hard to prove without doubt
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Mature79
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Your taking the correct action by writing a grievance letter (make sure you keep a copy). From my experience of working at Citizens Advice we always told clients with employment disputes that they must follow their employers grievance procedure. Failure to do so results in problems later with ACAS.

You can only go to an employment tribunal by going through ACAS and your also correct that it is free (something the government changed a few years ago when making changes to legal aid). ACAS will normally try to act through mediation if they believe you have a case before agreeing to a tribunal. It is for this reason that you must follow the grievance procedure, however it's not uncommon for the company to drag it's heels during the procedure.

There is further information on the ACAS website regarding what is reasonable to expect in terms of timeframe for the procedure and the time limits for starting action against an employer.

Good luck
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Notoriety
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Don't trust anything anyone posts on here as legit advice; you have no idea what their background is.

Go to your local advice centre and seek free legal advice, e.g. Citizens Advice. They can give you a lot more specific support and you know they're on it.
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SidVicious7
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Yes, thank-you for that and you're right I will be getting paid for the holiday pay etc as that is my right - albeit so is the right to £7.38! They have already paid me 5.90 for 156 hours so that's my main cause for taking action as the contract specifically says 7.38, whether it was a mistake on their behalf or not. And yes, if and when they deduct my first months wages, that'll also be included in the action taken against them.

With regards to the loading policy, that's just a side point that I wish to raise as they seem to take advantage of vulnerable workers who probably have no other alternative but to do as they're told (low skilled workers who would find it difficult to find another job)

I understand the probationary period element and of course it is their right as long as they give the one week notice, but in terms of me against them, it may be worth noting the course of events that led to the dismissal, which in turn may add to the weight of my argument. Although having said that, my primary aim is and was always simply to be paid what I should rightfully be paid, which is what I had signed on the contract, and anything else would simply be a bonus.

Thanks for your feedback it has brought some things into light, I'll be sure to keep posted!
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SidVicious7
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Cheers for that,
i intend to go when it next opens which is Tuesday, due to the bank holiday Monday, so in the meantime I just wanted general thoughts from others as it is all happening so fast. I won't be doing anything really until I visit the local advice centre.
Thanks for the heads up!
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Notoriety
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(Original post by SidVicious7)
Cheers for that,
i intend to go when it next opens which is Tuesday, due to the bank holiday Monday, so in the meantime I just wanted general thoughts from others as it is all happening so fast. I won't be doing anything really until I visit the local advice centre.
Thanks for the heads up!
Besta luck.

Normally I would let this slide, but as it's a) in law-study help and it attracts wannabe law students thinking they're a partner at a firm and b) some stuff said above I think is wrong.
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SidVicious7
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For what it's worth, what would you suggest doing?
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SidVicious7
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My apologies I forgot you said to visit my local citizens advice and get some feedback from them
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SidVicious7
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Thankyou, that was a mature response, if you'll pardon the pun.

Yes, I've done some research and that's why I'm writing a grievance letter so I can keep it on record that I have tried to solve the issues internally, should it then go to ACAS etc. This way nothing can come back on me that I have not followed such and such a thing, and instead will bolster my own case by showing that I have tried all avenues before taking action - should it come to it.

Thank you for the words and I shall see what the outcome is soon
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