I was successful in an internal job application for a Shell job and signed a contract with Shell Holland to work in Kazakhstan back in January. Due to a lengthly Visa process (and having previously worked for Shell in Nigeria until that contract expired in February) I was taken on as contractor though a third party so I could do a few trips out there from the Holland office. After agreeing mobilisation date of 2nd September to start for Shell once the 'Work Permit' had come through and following company mobilisation procedures, I had Accommodation in London booked thought the company's Team Rellocations Group and a flight to Kazakhstan which should be leaving tomorrow. Once I arrived in London from a family Holiday in Spain (inbetween contracts) at 10pm, I found that my hotel had been cancelled and the following day I received an e-mail to say my contract had been terminated. This was a 2 years contract (originally advertised as 4 year). Reasons? Lack of communication between August 17th and 28th plus a few behavioral issues which will need explaining (in fairness, I missed a flight oning (in as a working professional, this is exceptionally damaging. I was advised in the termination e-mail that I could contact the writer for clarification but I need to ask: (a) Should I contact him and ask or should I obtain legal advice first (b) If I have a case for compensation based on 3 months notice (international salary) and a mobilisation payment on 15,000 Euros and loss of earnings. I have rented out my properties based on the contract signing date and start date and am now homeless (c) Put the record straight on my performance. I have been approached by agents for other jobs at Shell which I am not entitled to due to the signed contract). The line manager who was given verbal abuse to me (accusing me of trying to "F@#k half the office". I am in a serious relationship so this is both against my principals and exceptionally damaging) was subject to a final warning for conflict of interests single sourcing contracts to prefered candidates. I would class him as untrustworthy on this basis. I was also accused of missing a flight so I could go to Monaco and watch the Formula One (I wish). I would have complained earlier about this mans attitude but I was a conctractor and he reminded me I was disposable. (d) If a company is right to cancel a contract without any grievance processes. It all seems too convenient with the current visa quota. OK. That's a long complicated one, but at 38 years old this has serious repercussions to my character and references. Many Thanks, Jonathan
What have you tried so far?: No response to termination e-mail until legal advice has been received
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Yes, I'd like to wait. It's important as I'm now out of work. I tried a previous solicitor who was familiar with UK Employment Law and EU Law, but accidently confused this with European Law which requires a specialist.
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Thank you for your question.
Please can you tell me what law applies to the contract you signed with Shell Holland?
Was this as an employee or as a consultant?
I look forward to your response.
The two year fixed term contract was as an employee which was signed back in February but due to lengthly Work Permit procedures hadn't started. The first day on payroll is always considered the date that the employee fly's out. The law I would assume is Dutch as that is the division of Shell on the contract. The contract does state 3 months notice by either party, but Shell are saying that if the contract hasn't started then this is not valid, even if it was signed six months earlier.
I was also entitled to a rellocation amount which was quite significant.
I was working on an interim deal to provide some income through a third party prior to this until the Work Permit was approved.
Thanks for confirming.
Can you give me the precise name of the hell company that is named on the contract? Does it specify your place of employment? Does the employment contract have any clauses towards the end which has the words "applicable law" or "jurisdiction" or "resolution of disputes"?
Thank Mr . Valcke, an extract below:
"Dear Mr. Holder,
Shell Offshore Personnel Services B.V.
Carel van Bylandtlaan no.30 2596 HR The Hague The Netherlands
Tel: +48 12(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>
We are pleased to offer you employment with us, Shell Offshore Personnel Services B.V. (the “Company”), for the purpose of your secondment to Agip Kazakhstan North Caspian Operating Company N.V. in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, effective from an anticipated First Day Payroll of February 2012/January 2013 based on the following:
• Job title: Engineer (Rotating Equipment Maintenance) • Department: IPO • Location: Atyrau • Tentative starting date: 01 April 2012
• End date: 2 years after starting date".
I have just reread the below section which states:
This contract and its attachments and any disputes or claims arising out of or in connection with it or them is to be governed by the laws within The United Kingdom.
Apologies for the confusion with EU Law. Addtionally here is the termination section:
"16. Termination of Employment/Assignment
Termination of employment: Without prejudice to statutory provisions, your employment with the Company under this
contract will terminate:
Only in case of interim termination by three months’ notice given in writing by either party with effect from the last day of a calendar month, or such longer period of notice in writing as may be required by any applicable law; or
automatically on the last day of the month in which the employee reaches pension age under the regulations of the Retirement Benefit Arrangement; or automatically on the day you enter the employment of another company forming part of, or associated with, the Shell Group.
Notwithstanding the above the Company reserves the right to terminate your employment under this contract in the event of gross misconduct in which case you will have no right under this contract to receive notice or other compensation for such immediate dismissal."
Thank you for confirming the situation.
I see that your contract is governed by UK law.
If you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 12 months then your employment rights will be limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This essentially means that your employer can dismiss you for any reason, as long as its decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, holidays, for Trade Union activities, etc). In the event that the reason for dismissal was discriminatory, you can make a claim for discrimination in an employment tribunal as there is no minimum service required to claim, although you would need to provide some evidence to back up your claim.
If your dismissal was not based on any of the above grounds, your only protection would be if you were not paid your contractual notice period. Unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, you should be entitled to receive your contractual notice period. You mentioned that your letter of engagement gave you a 3 month notice period.Your employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they will have to pay you in lieu of notice.
If you were not paid your notice period when you were due one, that would amount to wrongful dismissal (which is different to unfair dismissal) and you could make a claim in an employment tribunal to recover the pay for the notice period that you should have been given. There is a 3-month time limit to submit the claim.
Wrongful dismissal could also occur if your employer does not follow a contractually binding disciplinary policy that they have and the claim would then be for pay for the time during which you could have still been employed had the employer followed the correct policy.
I understand that your contract has been terminated. In terms of what to do now, the issue is whether the grounds cited for terminating your contract amount to gross misconduct. If you did engage in misconduct, this would mean you have no right to your notice period. If you did not engage in misconduct, this would mean that you have a valid claim for wrongful dismissal.
Now, if you believe you have a case for wrongful dismissal, I suggest you turn to ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) which provides a free service to employees. They will try to intervene with your former employer. If they refuse, then you should consider taking the matter to the employment tribunal. In order to do so, you would need to complete the claim form ET1. You can find out more here:http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/ResolvingWorkplaceDisputes/Employmenttribunals/DG_176137
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Thankyou ever so much for the answer. Just to clarify, if a contract is terminated BEFORE the first day on payroll but was signed months before, am I still eligible for the notice period (and maybe rellocation) provided it was not gross misconduct. I won't forget to raise your answer. Many Thanks
Yes, you would still be entitled to your notice period as specified in your engagement letter.
12+ years experience // Masters in EU Law
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