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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi,I have a some questions about the practices of the workplace

Customer Question

Hi,

I have a some questions about the practices of the workplace my fiancee works, i'm pretty sure there are breaking the law but want to check.

Firstly staff are required to attend month meetings, outside of normal working hours in the normal place of business. They are required to be there or they will face disciplinary action, however they are not paid for this time, which can easily be 2-3 hours. Sometimes 'emergency' meetings are also called, lasting the same amount of time. So for example last month she was at 7 hours of 'meetings' but received no payment.

Secondly staff are given 30 minutes to clear up after the store closes, however the daily cleanup operation usually takes 1-2 hours, again staff are required to stay until the work is done, but are not paid for these extra hours.

Thirdly there are a theft in store this week, around £350 was stolen out of the till which had been left open by an employee. The theft was caught on CCTV and the Police have been informed. However the staff have been told by the area manager that the money needs to be paid back to the company by themselves. The area manager has taken just over £260 from the staffs 'tip' jar and informed the staff they have two weeks to make up the balance.

All staff in the store are paid minimum wage, the loss of this money which is given by customers and divided out amongst the staff at Christmas has upset them deeply, let alone being told they need to find more money to cover the loss.

Can you please let me know if the above is legal?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is there anything in the employee's contracts about attending such meetings?

JACUSTOMER-d4kho7zo- :

Hi,The employment contract does mention meetings, but not that they are unpaid

Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied last night. To answer your queries:

  1. Meetings – there is nothing specific in law which states that staff should be paid for workplace meetings outside of normal working hours. Workers are entitled to be paid for whatever constitutes ‘working time’, which can be defined as:
  • Any period during which the worker is working, carrying out his duties, and at the employer's disposal.
  • Any period during which the worker is receiving "relevant training".
  • Any additional period which is agreed in a relevant agreement to be "working time".

The specific time that is included, which is most relevant is ‘training’. The workers would only get paid if they are attending training sessions, and unless the staff meeting was for training then such meetings would not usually be paid, unless it was previously agreed that would be the case.

  1. Close up – this can have a stronger argument for payment as it is likely to qualify under the above definition “Any period during which the worker is working, carrying out his duties, and at the employer's disposal”

  1. Theft - In general, cash tips which are voluntarily given by customers count as gifts to the staff. However, if the tips are pooled, the employer can keep some of the money back, for example to make up money missing from the till. The employer is allowed to do this because the tips do not amount to ‘wages’, so this is not an unlawful deduction of wages.

However, they cannot force the workers to pay additional; money on top of that from their pay because if that happens the employer could be making unlawful deduction of wages.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

JACUSTOMER-d4kho7zo- :

Can you just clarify the theft point for me. The company have contacted the police about this matter and I would expect them to attempt to get the money back from the people involved via a prosicution. Should they recover the money, would they be require to reimburse the tip money otherwise they surly would be profiting from this crime?

Ben Jones :

It is unlikely that the police would see this as theft and they would decide this is a civil matter, something that needs to be resolved through the civil routes, like the tribunal or courts. But if they do decide and prosecute then they will only recover the money which they believe has been stolen. As mentioned tips can be used to offset till shortages so this is not theft and the employer would not be profiting from this - they will be covering money that has gone missing so they would not be any better off

Ben Jones :

If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer - 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

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