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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47889
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi, I have ben working at a pharmaceutical company as a contractor

Resolved Question:

Hi, I have ben working at a pharmaceutical company as a contractor through Keypeople (but working under an umbrella company. Before I started, I was asked to sign a contract to say if either party wanted to give notice, then 4 weeks' notice from either side. Then two weeks into the job, I was asked by the agency to sign an amended contract with a nasty little clause, which said, if I worked 1-2 weeks, either party gives 1 weeks' notice; 2-6 weeks- 2 weeks' notice and 6+ weeks work, then 4 weeks' notice. And that under certain circumstances they couldn't guarantee 4 weeks' notice. Essentially, I was forced to sign it, which I didn't want to because Tim said that if I didn't sign this new contract then I wouldn't be paid and as I was unemployed for five motnhs before that, I had no choice as I was short of cash. During the 4 and half months I have worked there, my work was being sabotaged on the shared network drive and I was being bullied. Two weeks' ago I tried to complain to the line manager who wasn't interested who basically had a go at me for even trying to complain, So last week I complained to the director and then today, I received an email from the agency, saying I had just two weeks' notice. Do I have a case for this unfairness?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. So as I understand it you are due 4 weeks' notice, even under the new contract, is that right?

Customer:

As I mentioned previously, the amended clause said that if I worked more than 6 weeks, then I would be given 4 weeks' notice, but there is another little c Can you please tell me This morning I went into the office as was asked to leave my desk immediately, talk to HR and leave the building.

Customer:

Sorry, sent an unfinished message. There is another extra claus that was added to say that 4weeks' notice couldn't be guaranteed under certain conditions, but they have not specified what they are. There is no misconduct from my end, they were trying to say that I was incompetent at the job, but my computer kept being accessed illegally and without authorisation and my work was being changed around or missing. I tried to tell my manager and even went to her boss, talked to IT but no-one was interested in getting my computer forensically analysed to show that I was telling the truth. Anyhow, the Agency have decided to give me only 2 weeks' notice with pay. I have asked them for 4 weeks' pay and will be sending it in writing.

Ben Jones :

Hi, so as far as the current contract in place stands, you are entitled to a notice period depending on the length of time you have worked there. In your specific case, you fall into the bracket for the longest notice period of 4 weeks, having worked there for more than 6 weeks. However, the contract also states that in ‘certain circumstances’ they may not be able to guarantee the 4 weeks’ notice. Whilst such clauses could potentially be lawful, for that to occur they must be clearly drafted and specify what these circumstances are. A clumsily drafted and unclear clause is unlikely to be binding and any ambiguities with it would usually be resolved in your favour, meaning that you would be given the benefit of the doubt and should still be able to claim the full 4 weeks’ notice. Otherwise, the employer could easily have this openly worded clause and always claim there were ‘some circumstances’ that applied in your case that would mean you do not get the 4 weeks’ notice. This would be seen as a potentially unfair term as it would be open to abuse at all times.


 


So you can still insist on the 4 weeks’ notice due to this unclear and non-specific clause and if necessary you can always take the matter further to the small claims court to seek what you are due in this situation.

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you