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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44379
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I work for a breakdown recovery company and as a driver, I

Customer Question

I work for a breakdown recovery company and as a driver, I am permitted to take the 7.5 ton truck home after my shift. Back in the beginning of December 2012, I had a mishap with the truck. I parked on a slope, set the handbrake(as I thought), and left the truck for the evening. Some 30 seconds later, the truck started to run down the hill and into the back of a van which was parked further down the hill.
I completed a accident report form the next day, and as my truck was only superficially damaged, (eg bent bumper, cracked headlight lens) I thought no more of it. However, I have received a demand for payment for the damage to the truck (£653) which the company will be deducting from my wages at the rate of £100 per month ( 9% of take-home pay).
Upon questioning my boss, he told me that due to the high-risk nature of the recovery industry, the company has to have £5000 excess on their motor insurance policy, so that if an employee has an accident which is their fault, the company will charge that employee for any damage occurring to company and/or 3rd party vehicles. Also employees will be charged for any damage to customer's vehicles occurring whilst they are being recovered in the course of a working day.
In my particular case, there is the complication of whether the hand-brake was working as it should. I had previously mentioned in a vehicle defects form that the hand-brake had a tendency to spring off when knocked., but this problem was not addressed when the vehicle was serviced.
Unfortunately, the last clause in my employment contract states that "in certain circumstances it will be necessary for the company to recover certain sums from me and I hereby expressly grant my authority to such deductions from my wages should they be required.
My question is can the company legally behave like this, to come after their employees for payments which would normally be expected to be met by the motor insurance company?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to be able to assist with your question today. Please let me know if your co tract actually specifies anything further about what can be deducted or is that general clause all there is about this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Nothing specific, just that general clause about deductions.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
This potentially amounts to an unlawful deduction from wages, which is illegal according to the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Under law, an employer can only make deductions from, or withhold an employee’s wages in the following circumstances:
• If it is legally allowed (e.g. to deduct tax);
• If it is to recover an earlier overpayment of wages made by the employer; or
• If the employee has given their written agreement for the deductions to be made. This really needs to be specific though and a very general clause like in this case

If none of the above exemptions apply, the deductions will most likely be unlawful.

In order to try and resolve this, the employer should be contacted in writing, advised that this is being treated as unlawful deduction of wages and ask them to pay back the money within 7 days. Also state that if they fail to pay the money that is owed, legal proceedings could follow.

If the employer does not return the money as requested, the following options are available:
1. Employment Tribunal - this is a free claim, although the time limit to claim is only 3 months from the date the deductions were made. To make the claim the following form (ET1) needs to be completed: (
2. County Court – whilst this is not free, the time limit for claiming is 6 years. Therefore, it is useful if the Tribunal deadline has been missed. The claim can be made online by going to:

Hopefully by taking any of these steps the employer will be prompted to reconsider their position and try to resolve this without having to take the matter any further.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating as that is a very important part of our process. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44379
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your answer, much more encouraging than ACAS!

Leaving aside the consideration of unlawful deductions from wages, can the company pursue me through the courts to get money from me?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Potentially yes, if they can show that you were negligent and that your actions had resulted in a loss. However, if they have insurance that will cover this they would be expected to go through that first so then any losses they may have incurred would be an increase in premiums.

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