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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48798
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I had a two stage interview and accepted a contract of employment

Customer Question

I had a two stage interview and accepted a contract of employment to start work on the 26 Oct = on the clear understanding that a car will be provided to execute my duties under the employment job description.
At the interview I was asked whether I had full driving licence which I had confirmed as being correct. I had no communication on this from HR until the 12 Oct when I received a casual email in respect of the car that was being provided. I mentioned then to HR that I needed a Automatic car (whatever make) as I had a bad accident in 2004 on a manual and I have lost my nerves in driving a manual car.
I am now told by the new employer that the company policy is to provide manual cars only and that is stated in the Company car policy. I did not ask for this as in my global experience a car is provided and it is an arrangement with the employer either it is a manual or automatic. On requesting the policy I find that the car policy is only for a manual.
The employer is refusing to provide me with an automatic as it is not the company policy.
I emphasised my serious fear of driving a manual. I am told that unless I can get medical certification the Company policy stands in providing a manual car only. I am prepared to do this. I am told that even if it is confirmed the heads of department may not accept it.
I asked for alternate arrangement of being paid fixed rate as per the tax rules if I used my own car. This was refused too as it was not company policy.
I had given one months notice and leave my present employment today to commence work with the new employer on the 26 Oct.
HR had been negligent in dealing with my emails on the subject and refused to put anything in writing. I had asked for a three way conference call and this was refused too as a third party will be present.
I am now told that the job is subject to the use of manual car and if this was not acceptable the only option I have is FOR ME to decline the employment.
I have suffered ten days of stress and anxiety. I have no job to go to. The salary I will get is £35k with the new employer compared to £28k from the job I have left ( no benefits).
Can I get any advice from you? As I am nervous and upset can you please ring my father in law Mr Thauoos on *********** Any fees will be paid by him.
Thanks
Nicole Gericke
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Were you issued with a contract by the new employer and if so did it have a notice period for termination?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I was issued with a contract which states that notice of one month on either side.
There is no probation period.A) I am starting work on Monday.B) I have been to the Doctors and will receive a letter stating that I will be traumatised by switching to a manual car.C) My Job description states I am expected to drive to see clients.D) No mention was made to me at any time that only a manual car will be provided. It only came to light when I received a casual email from HR stating that arrangement is in place for a new leasing car. I THEN stated to arrange for an automatic and gave my reason.
I noted in the car policy which was sent after I had raised the inquiry that only a manual car of the employers choice will be provided.E) Employer refused to have a three conference call (with some one present) to sort matters. Not Company policy. Instead stated that there is no option only thing to do is not to take up the position offered. No alternative was provided. When I asked HR to put this in writing it was refused.F) I want to take employment with Unilever as it is a good step forward. If the Doctors letter is not accepted I propose to invoke a close in the Car Policy which states that an employee can have accessories of choice but it should be paid for at the time I collect the car. I have no problem with this.G) Can they refuse point F and what rights do I have? If I had known this issue I would not have given notice to the old employment which I left after giving 4 weeks notice.ThanksNicole Gericke
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, the starting point is that if the employer’s policy is to provide a manual car only then they can stick to that and there is no legal requirement on them to provide an automatic car. Similarly, they cannot be forced to allow you to use your own car and pay you mileage instead.
There is also no requirement on them to make it clear in advance that they only provide manual cars as this is not something which needs to be explicitly dealt with prior to your employment commencing. If this was a major factor in you deciding whether to take the job or not then it should have been negotiated with the employer in advance of you accepting the job and made a specific contractual condition. If you accepted the job on the assumption that an automatic would be provided or that it would not be an issue, then there would have always been a risk as the employer is not legally obliged to provide one if it is not in their policy or if this was not made a contractual condition in advance.
One option you have now is in trying to argue that your inability to drive a manual is as a result of a disability. If that is the case the employer would have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist you and that could include providing an automatic.
In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’.
The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
I will break this definition down:
• Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;
• Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;
• Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;
• Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.)
If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled. As you can see it is not just physical conditions and mental ones can qualify too. So in your case it could be down to you having post-traumatic stress disorder, which if serious enough and meets the remaining criteria above can amount to a disability.
Finally, you could indeed try and invoke the clause you mentioned by proposing to have the automatic transmission as an accessory and offer to pay for it yourself. I cannot say whether the employer will accept that or not and only time will tell. If they do not you could argue they have acted in breach of contract and pursue them for compensation. The issue is that it may not necessarily be great compensation, probably not much more than your contractual notice period with them. That is because they could have still employed you and offered you an automatic but then on day one issued you with notice of termination as per the contract. Your employment would have then terminated once the notice period had expired. As you have less than 2 years’ service with them you are not protected against unfair dismissal so cannot challenge the reasons for dismissal but would still be entitled to the contractual notice period due under contract.
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
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi BenThank you for your reply. Mr Thauoos who is a Chartered Accountant who is also specialises Employment Law had explained to me exactly what you concluded.I have sent the medical letter today which refers to the accident in 2013 and confirms my incapacity to drive a manual car.I received a reply from UNILEVER stating that HR will respond within 48 Hours.In the mean time I am confirming that I will be reporting to work on Monday the 26 Oct.Thank YouNicole
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
OK thank you that's good news.
regards
Ben
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi BenMr Thauoos spoke to HR after submitting the medical report. Good news they reviewed my case and agreed to provide an automatic vehicle. Started work and all is well.Thanks for your useful comments.NicoleSorry I did not respond earlier.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the update an glad it was resolved in the end. All the best