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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 39000
Experience:  Expert in UK Employment Law
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An employee has announced that she wants to knock off early

Resolved Question:

An employee has announced that she wants to knock off early on Fridays because she can no longer get childcare. We are a very small business and cannot recruit someone just to cover a couple of hours, or move existing staff around. She is still willing to work her wednesday shift, but that is not a sustainable solution (we;d have to finds someone else to cover her Friday shift, and really need to be able to offer the full package). Can we assume that by refusing to work her contracted hours she has repudiated her contract and accept her resignation?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Please note that as a practising solicitor I am often in and out of meetings, travelling, or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at evenings and weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance if there is a slight delay in getting back to you. Rest assured that I am dealing with your query and will respond ASAP. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email as soon as I have responded. For now please let me know how long she has worked there?

Customer:

She's been with us since March 2011.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. Has she actually refused to turn up for her contracted hours on Fridays?

Customer:

Well she has arranged for another member of staff to cover for her. I don't think she's actually worked a full Friday since July. We allow staff to take time off if they can arrange cover, but we thought it was understood that it was for exceptional circumstances, not every week.

Ben Jones :

So if she arranges for someone to cover for her and this person does so and turns up for these hours and does the work, is your business affected in any way?

Customer:

No. However, we are dependent week to week on the goodwill of one other employee to provide the cover. It is not a sustainable long-term solution.

Ben Jones :

You need to be very careful about treating her actions as a resignation, because that is unlikely to be the case. Whilst she may not be performing the contractual hours expected of her, it does not mean that by doing so she is resigning. She would be acting in breach of contract and that could be seen as a disciplinary matter, allowing you to take disciplinary action against her, which could eventually result in dismissal, but it would not automatically amount to a resignation.


 


Also, you need to take into account the cover she has arranged. If the person covering is happy to provide this cover and this is not affecting your business in any way, then taking formal action could be deemed unfair because you are not in any way being affected by this and everything continues to runs smoothly. I know you may be worried about the reliability of the cover, but if there are no reliability issues to cause concern, unless this becomes an issue in the future, at present it would not be one.

Customer:

OK. So effectively as long as the cover is available, we have no way of forcing her to work her conrtacted hours?

Ben Jones :

Unless you have no policy on this and it affects your business in some way, but if it makes no difference to you and does not affect the business, then tasking formal disciplinary action, including dismissal, could be seen as unreasonably harsh in the circumstances when all she is trying to do is ensure she has appropriate childcare

Customer:

Ok thanks. I just wish her appropriate childcare wasn't at the expense of our business continuity.

Ben Jones :

Yes I understand but I also gather that you have not actually had issues with this arrangement so it is probably best to keep a close eye on how things go and if it eventually becomes obvious that it has an adverse effect on the business you can revisit this and discuss her options again

Customer:

Thanks for your help

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and all the best

Ben Jones, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 39000
Experience: Expert in UK Employment Law
Ben Jones and 3 other UK Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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Ben Jones
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Expert in UK Employment Law