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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 44871
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I work for an electricity distribution company and I have a

Customer Question

I work for an electricity distribution company and I have a set of valuable skills and authorisations.

Recently contracts have been awarded to contractors to work on our networks and to do so they need people with my skills and authorisations. This has raised an interest with staff with these skill as the contractors are offering significantly higher pay packages than our current employer.

So after a flurry of staff leaving to join these contractors the company is suffering from a skills shortage, skills which can only be attained through a 3+ year training course. This means the company is resorting too term and conditions which discourage these contractors "poaching" or "head hunting" their staff.

How - ?
Hinting that our authorisations maybe/will not be recognised should we move.

Asking for a significant fee to allow staff to go, but this does not ensure the above.

Then should they allow us to go and they pay the above, they then ask the contractor to pay another fee to re-authorize us.

It feels like my freedom work with whom I wish with the skills I worked hard to attain is being restricted, and maybe against the law?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

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

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

7years

Ben Jones :
OK, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you
JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

18 years with a previous electricity distributer

Ben Jones :

By the way, these authorisations are they specific to the company or are they industry-wide?

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

specific to the DNO I work for, there is confusion as to whom they belong to, the DNO or the employee?. dno - distribution network operator

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

each dno has the basic authorisations but require retesting wehn changing company - as network work differantly between the companies

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

I'm perfectly capable and authorized now, but should I move and do the same work, on the same network i won't be..

Ben Jones :

The more I think about it the more I believe I cannot comment on who owns the authorisations as that would be rather industry-specific issue that would be beyond what we could comment on. However, I can comment on the fees to allow you to leave if needed?

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

Ok

Ben Jones :

these terms are they simply in your contract, rather than in an agreement with the contractors?

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

They be in the contract with a contractor working for the company

Ben Jones :

but before they work for the contractor?

Ben Jones :

obviously the employer is trying to stop current employees leaving so they must have the terms somewhere?

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

It is not in my T&C's

It is a fee paid to the main company by the outside contractor should he wish to have me working for him

Ben Jones :

quite a complex set up I must say, not sure if it is for the likes of or site to give you the detailed answer you are after to be honest. It is best suited to getting a solicitor in person to examine this in much more detail, see the contracts and restrictions and advise on that basis. I just don't want to mislead you by giving you a simple answer based on the limited information which could be completely wrong

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

I understand, my partner is a HR manager in another company and she say this is legal - to prevent skilled staff leaving by restricting other employers taking you on..

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

just doesn't seem fair to me, I'm in a position to earn another £20K, but they don't want me to go because they'll be no one to put the wires back up after the next storm...

Ben Jones :

there are certainly ways to try and restrict poaching or moving between employers but all must be reasonable to be enforceable. Generally they are done by having restrictive covenants in the contract but it is an area of law hat I an talk about for days and still not get a definitive answer. But then the arrangement you have here is somewhat different, for example if you had a contract with the employer which said if you were to leave for the contractor they must pay them X, that would be unenforceable because this is a contact between you and the employer and the contractor is not a party to it so they cannot be force to pay these fees. On the other hand if you were forced to pay them (but the contractor pays them on your behalf), it could again be illegal if it is seen as a penalty, as penalty clauses are unenforceable. But as mentioned this is the basic position, the arrangement you have may be different and a lot more complex

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

Basically it is the contractor who has to pay this fee should they want me to work for them, and the company I leave is hinting that it may not accept my authorisations once I leave anyway and I therefor couldn't work for the contractor.

Anyway thankyou for your help.

Ben Jones :

You are welcome, I will ensure you get a refund as we could not help on this occasion

JACUSTOMER-3j0e8j2g- :

oh, wasn't expecting that - thanyou!

Ben Jones :

no problem, all the best

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