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I was fired on the spot from a small company without notice.

I was a manager there...
I was fired on the spot from a small company without notice. I was a manager there. The company has a dire history of firing on the spot at the whim of the owner. The owner of the company called me in and presented me with a list of "concerns". That evening I received a voicemail saying I didn't need to come back in. I am owed 2 weeks salary. The expected salary date was 21 December.
After looking through the staff handbook it looks like the conditions for immediate dismissal are for gross misconduct. However, what I was accused of is listed under misconduct or serious misconduct. I was accused of using the internet for personal purposes (facebook email etc.) and being absent on 2 afternoons (one when I left early because I was sick and the other for an emergency in my flat - but remember I was the manager!).
Can they withhold the salary I am owed?
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
1/3/2013
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50,751
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor
Verified

Ben Jones :

Hello and thank you for your question, which I will be happy to assist you with. Please let me know how long did you work there for?

Customer:

I started on 22 October 2012 and was fired on 10 December 2012

Customer:

I am not concerned about being fired - I was looking for an alternative anyway - I just want the salary that I am owed (2 weeks). The owner has a track record of non-payment of salaries and late payments.

Ben Jones :

Have they said why you are not getting paid?

Customer:

No, the company is a private language school so they were on (and still are) holiday until 7 January. My question is are there any circumstances under which they don't have to pay me what is owed? I can wait for a while but just need to know where I stand.

Customer:

I received no letter outlining what they said except on the day I was fired...here's the outline. 08.00 I arrive at work - my computer is locked. Owner asks me for the building key saying she needs to copy it. 09.00 she asks me to sign the employment contract (I had a copy but she had never signed it). 10.30 she hands me a letter asking me to attend a meeting at 11.00 to review probationary period. We have the meeting - she raises use of internet, 2 x absences. She takes notes and we discuss. 18.00 (same day) she leaves a voicemail saying I don't need to come back to work. Salary payment date was supposed to be 21 December (last day of school for the year)

Customer:

I sent an email on 14 December outlining my expectations for salary (2 weeks, plus holiday pay plus discrepancies from previous salaries). I heard nothing back. I appreciate it's not a lot of time but I just need to know if I am entitled to what I worked for?

Ben Jones :

Under law, an employer can only make deductions from, or withhold an employee’s wages in the following circumstances:



  • If it is legally allowed (e.g. to deduct tax);

  • If it is to recover an earlier overpayment of wages made by the employer; or

  • If the employee has given their written agreement for the deductions to be made.


 


If none of the above exemptions apply, the deductions will most likely be unlawful.


 


So if they refuse to pay you and none of the exceptions apply, the employer should be contacted in writing, advised that this is being treated as unlawful deduction of wages and ask them to pay back the money within 7 days. Also state that if they fail to pay the money that is owed, legal proceedings could follow.


 


If the employer does not return the money as requested, the following options are available:



  1. Employment Tribunal - this is a free claim, although the time limit to claim is only 3 months from the date the deductions were made. To make the claim the following form (ET1) needs to be completed: (http://www.justice.gov.uk/forms/hmcts/employment)

  2. County Court – whilst this is not free, the time limit for claiming is 6 years. Therefore, it is useful if the Tribunal deadline has been missed. The claim can be made online by going to: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.


 


Hopefully by taking any of these steps the employer will be prompted to reconsider their position and try to resolve this without having to take the matter any further.

Customer:

OK, but what does this mean?: "If the employee has given their written agreement for the deductions to be made."

Customer:

could that be a clause in the contract somewhere?

Ben Jones :

It can be but it has to be very clear and you must have been told about it - most commonly it would be a separate clause or agreement signed by you that you agree to it

Customer:

OK, understood. Thanks Ben. So it looks like my only issue could be timing.....legally they can't deduct/refuse payment of salary. I have already drafted a letter saying that I will give them 7 days to make payment or I do the county court route.

Ben Jones :

The tribunal would be easier (and cheaper)

Customer:

ah, OK

Customer:

can I make any claim about length of delay in payment - like interest or financial distress it has caused?

Ben Jones :

Interest will be included but will be minimal, the rest you can't really claim for

Customer:

OK. well, that's it Ben. Thank you again. I think I may have signed up for the free trial with renewed subscription here by mistake.How do I just make the payment for this consultancy and that's it?

Ben Jones :

You have to rate the advice before exiting and I will sort out the rest by contacting customer services

Customer:

Brilliant - thanks again.This is a great service.

Ben Jones :

My pleasure and all the best

Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50,751
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor
Verified
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