The man I spoke to today faces a horrible dilemma.
Six months into the job, and only today has the employer provided a contract of employment.
It states that the man has agreed to opt out of the Working Time Directive. He hasn't.
It doesn't say how many hours work per week are guaranteed. During the last six months, hours worked have varied, but are seldom less than 50pw. The pay is always the same.
It does say that overtime when required (including weekends) is compulsory. It appears that the employer expects it to be unpaid, just like it has been during the last six months.
I've advised him of his rights to address these issues. And yes, I can help him get paid for the hours he's worked...get the company to agree he hasn't opted out of the WTD....and get confirmation of the correct weekly hours etc.
What I can't do is be sure they won't respond spitefully.
If they dismiss him for "poor work" or "misconduct" after he raises these things, the likelihood is that the law will be fine with that. This poor guy now has a very stressful decision to make about his next steps.
It's awful that there is a wait of two years before getting most unfair dismissal rights. Even under the last Labour government it was one year, and these things still happened with depressing regularity.
The following words are from this employers solicitors website:
"You may be aware that if you sack an employee, they only have the
right to claim unfair dismissal if they’ve been employed for more than 2
years. This minimum length of service is known as the qualifying
This means that it’s relatively safe to sack someone who has not yet
been employed for the qualifying period, even if you don’t have a fair
reason for dismissing them."
My phone call today wasn't about a zero hour contract or an Agency contract. This is a worker with a "proper job"; a permanent contract. I feel for this man. Why should he be forced to choose between being exploited or the risk of being punished for objecting? He's got eighteen months to go before he has proper employment rights, and that's a long, long time with a bad boss.
This sort of thing causes great anxiety, and can make people ill.
I can't think of a reputable reason why we don't have full employment rights from day one in the job.
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