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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45315
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I currently work as a Counters Team Manager Stores,

Resolved Question:

I currently work as a Counters Team Manager for Morrisons Stores, it is a job which I have had for a year since the in-store management structure was changed. Previous to that I worked as an Assistant Night Duty Manager and also a Team Leader within the convenience sector of Morrisons. In total I have worked for the company currently for nearly 4years.
According to the restructure map the Counter Department should have 3 Team Managers. Of which I am one. Since the restructure I have been the only permanent Team Manager on that department. There has been about 6months where I have had a 2nd Team Manager, however, they were put into the role and not given any management training and were only given basic job role training, similar to what a general assistant would receive. They also did not receive performance reviews or given any structured feedback from senior management. It was the duty of senior team to carry out these reviews.
I recently suffered what I can only suggest was a minor breakdown. I felt I was in a position at work where everything was on top of me. This is a job position which I had been employed in for nearly 3years and I felt, confused with what was being asked of me, vulnerable as everything was being put on myself, both from my general assistants and senior management, alone as there is a culture (which I felt came from the store manager) that the senior team do not have a ‘hands on’ role on the departments. I felt as if I was being bullied into working extra hours as whenever I was due to finish a 9hr day, I was told to stay, due to myself being the only Team Manager on the department I had to no-one to ‘share’ the workload. Even if I felt I had completed my days’ tasks and was leaving, senior management would imply that I was taking a ‘short day’ or trying to ‘sneak out early’. Because of this, I felt compelled to stay and was regularly working 60hours weeks. The additional hours were unpaid as I am salary paid.
Due to my health, I have diabetes and suffer from epilepsy, this extra work made me very tired and this had a major effect on my home life. I would be ratty, very sleepy, withdrawn and depressed. I was also suffering very heavy headaches. The doctor signed me off work for 3weeks in total, due to workplace stress. I was not contacted by someone from management for nearly two weeks to see how I was and I personally arranged a meeting with work to explain to them what was causing this stress. I did not expect anything from them, (pay rise, more staff etc.) I just wanted them to understand my position and how I was feeling. The meeting was with the Assistant Store Manager, after nearly an hour I came away thinking that it did not achieve anything. The ASM seemed to not understand my concerns and felt that it was all ‘part of the job’ and that ‘he has to deal with it daily’.
I returned to work after 4weeks off in total (I had a week holiday taken during this time), as I thought I felt fine. The first week back, I was not given a ‘Return to Work Interview’ and I felt that Senior Management were not serious about the issue. Nobody asked how I was feeling, or seemed to try and understand. The Store Manager kept on asking how my holiday was. To me, this implied I was taking unwarranted leave, as he did not once ask if I was fine emotionally. I raised this issue with the ASM but he backed the SM and claimed this was not the case.
I have been back at work now for 5 weeks. I do not think that anything has improved and within the last week I had the same feelings I had at the time of the breakdown. I am getting the same feelings of guilt, vulnerability, stress and am getting headaches again.
I am writing this letter as I feel there are some issues which I feel my employer is not being responsible for or even may be illegal.
These are my Key Points.
- I am on a salary based on a 43hr week, my contract states that I would be required to work additional hours ‘occasionally due to business needs’. I do not have an issue with this except in my mind everyday does not constitute occasionally.
- I struggle to get sufficient lunch breaks due to lack of staff. This means I can be working 12-14 hrs days with only 30-45mins break in total.
- I feel that I am being bullied into working the extra hours.
- For the amount of hours I work each week based on my salary the hourly wage is below the minimum working wage.
- Understanding of workplace stress/sickness at work.
I am writing this to see if you can give me some advice regards ***** ***** situation.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Have you raised a formal grievance about any of this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, i havent. What part of the issues that i have raised do you feel i could have grounds for a grievance with. I do feel its difficult to put in a grievance as its 'against the establishment', and feel it would land of death ears or be turned around and the blame put on me.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hi there. I will deal with each of the issues you raised separately.
First of all the hours you are being asked to work. Your contract does state that you could be asked to work additional hours as required although you are right that ‘occasionally’ does not mean constantly. This clause is there to allow extra hours to be asked of you when necessary to help out with unexpected workload, cover holidays, sickness, etc. it does not mean the employer can ask you to work them on a constant basis as that is not what such clauses are there for. So if the employer’s requests become unreasonable by being applied more often than intended you could refuse to work the extra hours and make it clear that such a clause would not entitle the employer to force you to work overtime on a consistent basis.
In terms of the pay you get for the additional hours, overtime does not actually have to be remunerated, unless the contract allows it. For example solicitors are on a salary but can be asked to work extra hours as needed and they do not get any overtime for these. Often they could work Throughout the night and very long days for no additional pay. So unless your contract allows for overtime pay there ia jo legal right to demand any even if you frequently work overtime. You can nevertheless refuse to work unreasonable additional hours as mentioned above.
The legal entitlement to breaks is shorter than you may expect. The law only entitles you to take 20 minutes rest for every full 6 hours of work. So for 12 hours (and up to 18 hours) you are only allowed to take 40 minuets rest. If tour contract entitles you to longer then that would be an additional contractual entitlement but the above is the legal entitlement.
Finally, their understanding of stress at work and your rights in relation to that. Whilst stress in the workplace is becoming an ever-increasing problem, no specific legislation deals with it. The rights of employees in these circumstances are scattered across various legislation and common law examples.
A good starting point is to look at The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related statutory instruments, which impose a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. This includes a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities to reduce the incidence of stress at work. In addition, under common law an employer owes a duty of care towards its employees, the breach of which can amount to negligence.
As no standalone claim exists for being exposed to stress, the affected employee has the following options open to them if they were going to challenge their employer over this:
1. Grievance - this is a formal internal complaint, following which the employer is obliged to investigate the issues and deal with them in an appropriate manner. It should always be the first step in trying to bring the problem to the employer's attention and to try and reach a resolution.
2. Constructive dismissal - this occurs where the employee resigns because they feel they were left with no other option in the circumstances. Further considerations include:
• It must be shown that the employer had acted in breach of the implied terms to provide a safe system of work or through their actions (or inactions) had broken the mutual trust and confidence
• The breach relied on must be sufficiently serious to justify instant resignation
• This claim is only available to those with at least 2 years' continuous service with their employer and must be made within 3 months of resigning.
In the first instance, I would advise going down the grievance route first and only consider pursuing legal action as a last resort if it is evident that the matter cannot be resolved in any other way.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok thank you for the answer....It does seem from that though, im probably not going to get very far. Im not seeking monetary compensation for it, just feel that Im not being treated well in the workplace but seems as though they hold all the cards if I wanted to challenge them.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Well you shouldn't just give up like this, for example in a grievance situation the employer has a duty to formally investigate the issues and decide what appropriate action must be taken. If you are unhappy with the outcome you can also appeal and it would go to a different member of management who would hopefully be neutral about it. So in many ways you have nothing to lose by at least trying that route. However, not doing anything could create issues in the future as the employer become even more confident that they can treat you as they wish. If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45315
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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