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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47901
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi. I was employed by a local construction business and worked

Resolved Question:

Hi. I was employed by a local construction business and worked there for over 3 months. I didn't have a written contract with them and was told I was on 3 months trial.
I was asked by the boss to move a company vehicle and accidentally reversed into a parked car causing a small amount of damage to both vehicles. My boss sacked me on the spot and is now demanding I pay for the damage to both vehicles. He still owes me 2 weeks wages and is insinuating that he is going to withhold my wages to help pay for the damage to the vehicles. I would just like to know where I stand with this?
Thank you
Carl
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: 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. can you tell me was the accident on company property.

Customer:

Hi. No it happened when we were doing a job away. It was in a farmyard.

Ben Jones :

ok do you have a licence to drive the vehicle please

Customer:

I hold a full uk licence. The boss asked me to get into the pickup truck and move it. I had never driven it before.

Ben Jones :

Ok thank you leave it with me I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready.I will post back on here when done there is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.

Customer:

Ok. Thank you.

Ben Jones :

If you were at fault for the damage caused then you could potentially be held liable to pay for the costs associated with repairing that. However you should check to see if the employer has any insurance in place that could cover that and then you may only be charged the excess and be asked to cover the increase in premiums, if that is the case.


 


In terms of withholding your pay to cover these costs, it would potentially amount to an unlawful deduction from wages, which is made illegal under 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 explicit written agreement for the deductions to be made.


 


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. Advise them 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 - the time limit to claim is only 3 months from the date the deductions were made. To make the claim, form ET1 needs to be completed and submitted - you can find it here: https://www.employmenttribunals.service.gov.uk/employment-tribunals

  2. County Court – this is an alternative way to claim and the advantage is that the time limit is a much longer 6 years and is usually used if you are out of time to claim in the Tribunal. The claim can be made online by going to: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.


 


Hopefully by warning the employer you are aware of your rights and are not going to hesitate taking further action they will be prompted to reconsider their position and work towards resolving this.

Customer:

I read that it is a legal obligation for an employer to provide you with a contract within 13 weeks of employment. If they don't then you are not liable for the cost of the damage because you haven't signed anything? My ex boss does have insurance, but has told me he didn't want to go through the insurance because he could not afford it! Like I can?!! He sacked me and now demands £1000!

Customer:

My employment ended after 14 weeks. So over the 13 week time limit!

Ben Jones :

Hi sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. An employer must provide you with a written statement of employment particulars (similar to a contract) within 2 months of you starting to work there.However, if they fail to do that you cannot just make a claim for it on its own - you need another valid claim, such as unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal and 'attach' the contract claim to it. In this case that is not possible because you do not have the necessary length of service to make such claim so you cannot challenge the employer's failure to issue you with a contract.

Customer:

I have not had a statement of employment Nothing at all. Surely I am not liable for the damage caused because I never signed anything with a clause relating to accidental damage or the like. It happened in work time and I was asked to drive that vehicle. I no longer work for that company because he 'let me go' after the 3 month probationary period. Should he not have given me a weeks notice as it was over 3 months?

Ben Jones :

It does not matter whether you signed anything regarding accidental damage or nit - this does not depend on what you signed - it depends on what you actually did and in the end comes down to your actions - did they cause the damage in question and if they did, then you could be directly liable, regardless of what you signed or not. Someone who drive on the road and accidentally drives into another vehicle will be automatically liable because their actions caused the damage - they obviously haven't signed anything but that does not matter, by law they would be negligent and would likely have liability for the damages causes, the same could apply to you.

As to notice you are due a week's notice once you have been there for more than a month, unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct.

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 :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. 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? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks

Customer:

Yes. Thanks

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome, all the best

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