Do I sue? Fiddly(15 Posts)
Am reposting on behalf of very grumpy friend who has just lost his job (like I did last week). We were commiserating and he told me how his employer had treated him - he's disabled. I know this is a marathon, but what do you reckon is actually going on here....
Where it says 'I" it's him, not me. 40-something tech genius, now crippled with lung disease.
1. Taken on after interview with director as part-time employee in April, earning a max of 115 on living wage a week to comply with disability rules. Job: to create the org’s online shop. Registered as a bank worker at suggestion of HR director who was not there at the job offer as this complied with hourly pay rules, who has now left. Was (and am) Only person in team (indeed dept) with any experience of online, let alone comms; I worked with 2 paid shop staff on secondment.
2. Worked more than full-time on the project, six days a week. This was largely due to fixing the several very serious competency issues in the organisation at the same time as structuring and making the website. Developed all concept and content – eg hiring high-end photographers at minimal pay, writing the code myself, sourcing celebrity raffleprizes myself.
During this time I worked up to 50 hours a week as a volunteer as well as paid hours, dealing with the toxic legacy of the project (eg firing unsatisfactory freelancers) and bulding the site from scratch at speed.
2. No employment contract issued. Chased etc for several months. No answer given as to why no reply. Longstanding HR worker tells head of dept she thought I had been contracted as an employee.
3. Pay was irregular, missing, or short several times.
4. In July, I had pneumonia & had to take 3 weeks off. Supplied medical cert as requested to line manager. Was told I had no entitlement to sick pay as I had not worked there for 3 months.
4. When I did finally speak to someone in HR six months after asking for a contract, a new employee informed me that as I was registered as a bank worker I had no employment rights.
5. Zero hours contract finally issued. I didn’t sign it. It was not a reflection of the work I had been doing for six months for the organisation.
5 ii. After yet more sudden illness, I inform Head of dept (then line manager) that I will only be working paid hours for 7 weeks as a means to stay reliable. We agree, with proj manager, that I will work Mondays and Tues.
6. Co Director tells me I have to produce timesheets that show irregular hours to make it look as if I am a casual worker. He assures me my job is safe, despite rumours of cuts in the organisation.
He tells me my expenses are not to be paid as “the org don’t do that’. The org’s polices clearly state they do.
7. Head of dept tells me I have to produce timesheets that show irregular hours to make it look as if I am a casual worker. Head of dept refuses to sign off timesheets that reflect hours we agreed and that I worked as not irregular enough.
8. I bring this up with proj manager who is no longer on secondment and is my new line manager. I point out that as the 3 managers (as listed above) call regular meeting on Monday, I will have to lie on my timesheets. I ask not to do that.
9. She says, twice ‘We have to fudge your timesheets.’ I say, it’s me that has to do them through the rules of the org., and I really can’t as it’s fraud. I email her. She doesn’t respond.
10. I am told as of 30 Nov that I will no longer be paid anything for the work I am doing thanks to cuts. Head of dept says ‘We love you and we want you around, the job can be done as a volunteer.’
The other non-disabled staff are untouched, by the way, and have had large pay rises despite one of them saying 'I don't really have anything to do'.
Is there any proof of this or just his word against theirs?
He's got written records and notes of time and dates of convos.
ACAS. What they don't know you could write on a postage stamp.
What do you mean 'earning a max of £115 a week to comply with disability rules?' That makes no sense. There's no rule limiting how much disabled people earn.
Why on earth has he done all this time as a volunteer for them as well as paid hours?
They are obviously behaving badly and it's not really clear why, it all seems very strange. Does your friend have any reason to think it is because of his disability? It doesn't seem related, and they are obviously happy for him to work for them if he's been working for them 6 days a week for months. Strange.
He's on ESA, hence the £115 limit. The reason he volunteered was because the job needed a lot more than the paid hours he could give, so he said he'd volunteer extra.
But he's fit enough to work 50 hours/6 days a week? Why still claim benefits then? Did his employer refuse to pay him any more hours than £115- worth? Just seems odd.
What I find strange about this situation is why your friend seemed OK to rack up more and more hours and getting increasingly committed to a company that was feeding him such spurious, unreliable and inconsistent information. Didn't he question them at the time? he was getting fed platitudes from random staff in the company who are likely not even qualified in employment policy (a director, a project manager, HR "new employee" etc etc).
On the one hand he hasn't been treated well, but he hasn't exactly helped himself by allowing the situation to drag on for months.
A tribunal may rule that he was willing to continue to provide a service on very shakes ground and ought to have nipped it in the bud and raised his concerns through official HR channels a lot soon. OK it's benefit of hindsight but hopefully a lesson learned for the future.
My advice would be
- stop investing any more of his time working there. Like, from today!
- contact ACAS to get their advice. They may suggest grounds for tribunal, but unless he has really good records eg emails, he will be on a hiding to nothing
My sense is he may have to write off the work done so far.
Frankly it sounds like they are aadministratively crap as well as not wanting to pay more than a certain amount. To me, on the face of it, it doesn't sound like it's about disability but about money. If I were him I would cut my losses. Is there anything specific that makes him think it's about disability?
He obviously can't work 50 hours plus in any consistent way because he's has serious illnesses as a result, so that's a daft thing to say. Besides, that's irrelevant to this organisation exploiting him, and not the point!
It sounds like he's been treated like shit, and unfortunately charities aren't immune from doing this kind of thing to their staff. It's very murky to have someone doing some paid hours and some voluntary, I have always tried to avoid that when I have managed projects - or at the least have them working on very distinct areas of work so to justify some volunteer hour.
I don't think I'd waste my time getting general advice. Go to one of the bodies that represent disabled people in the workplace and get proper, free representation. I'll get some links in a minute.
I'd start here - which is a government body set up for people who feel they've experienced discrimination and see how it goes.
You obviously know more than I do about this situation Laughing Gnome. It sounded as though he was working 6 days a week consistently for months at a time and I couldn't see anything claimed that the disability/any other condition was caused by that. Or that the disability was a factor in what's happened, in fact.
He's been exploited and they've behaved badly but is there any reason to believe they have discriminated against him because of his disability?
How long has he actually been working for them? Very unfortunately, the Con-Dem government increased the threshold to qualify for claims of unfair dismissal to 2-years continuous employment, with very, very limited exceptions.
He has been poorly treated, quite possibly unfairly treated, but unless he's in a position to sue for unfair dismissal, whether it counts as discrimination is kind of academic.
"He has been poorly treated, quite possibly unfairly treated, but unless he's in a position to sue for unfair dismissal, whether it counts as discrimination is kind of academic"
Completely wrong. It's very relevant. Protection from discrimination starts from day one of employment (or actually before, in the case of recruitment)- you don't need two years' service to bring a claim of less favourable treatment when it's because of a protected characteristic, whether you have been dismissed or not. And if you have been dismissed because of a protected characteristic you don't need two years' service to claim unfair dismissal either.
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