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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46196
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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there, Earlier last year (around august 2014), I up and

Resolved Question:

Hi there,
Earlier last year (around august 2014), I up and left my job. 2 reasons why, 1. I was stressed out due to family issues and I was trying to help/conform my mum as best I could. 2. I was heavily over worked and under paid (despite the managing director telling me he should be paying me more) because I made a few errors now and then. I was always doing more than I could handle, even telling the managing director himself "I've got enough work", yet he would give me more.
I often did over time, even out of hours and he would tell me what a great job I did (rarely), but when say I was trying to do 3 things at once (even things that's not my job, even though I complained its NOT my job to do) and made a mistake I would be pulled into the office and threatened with the "Do you value your job?" speech. Even though I had VALID explanations, yet it was always ignored.
So basically, after another day of what I honestly considered hell (I woke up every day not wanting to go into work and friends and family told me I should have left already; I was there 3 years). I had had enough and didn't come back the next day, I sent them a notice of immediate resignation.
Down in my contract I had to give a minimum of a months notice (to which I gave 0); so they are clamming I owe them £1200 (my months salary, I was an IT Technician; not high level, like I said I did a lot and got paid terribly for what I did).
I told them I dont have that and offered them just over half telling them that's all the money I have and I dont have another job. They refused and wanted it in full. So they started the money claim.
I got the claim, and I went to citizens advice and they said to counter it as that's clause (1 months notice) isn't for small employees like myself. So I countered. It got to the stage where they asked if it could be handled by a middle man. I agreed to it, but they again refused the middle man service by the court.
So now I have a court date on the 6th of March. I've never been so I don't know what to expect. Sorry this is really long too. People keep telling me I shouldn't have to pay that money, but I think I'm going to lose and I really DONT have that money as I've got bills to pay..
To add, I was an IT technician, where they made me do orders for the warehouse, clean the water features (big walls where water streamed down) and give customer service to their product (which wasn't my job) all while denying me access to the server room and warehouse (where all my stuff to DO my job is stored unless given permission and escorted). They hindered everything I tried to do for them. That and it seemed like all the managers were trying to fire me even though ALL the other staff were really happy with what I could do and did for them. I was fed up with being treated like S**T. All why expecting me to do MY OWN JOB and more!
I dont have the money to afford a lawyer for this so I'm honestly worried.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What are your specific queries about this situation?
Customer:

Hi Ben, basically; am I going to have to pay this money or is their a chance the judge will say I dont? That and the added fee's they will probably make me pay.

Ben Jones :

There is a chance that you won't have to pay the money. It is not as simple as the employer claiming for the month's notice you would have been expected to serve. They can only claim for actual losses which they have incurred as a result of you leaving without serving notice. Have they actually lost the £1200 they are claiming? Can they show that they have? Sometimes the employer has not lost anything because they had existing staff which took on your responsibilities for no additional pay. In that case they can't claim that money because they have not lost it. However, if they have had to get someone in to do your job and that cost them more than what they would have paid you, then they could claim the difference. But they cannot just claim your month's salary . As to other costs they may ask you to pay then those won't be that much because this is a small claims court matter and as such each party pays their own legal costs. You could only be asked to pay their claim and hearing fees and that's if you loe. Those won't be much more than a couple of hundred

Customer:

Okay, basically there was another IT technican, who has been their since the start and was the one to originally give me my tasks. So he could have easily covered my tasks that I did. I dont know about them being able to prove anything. But they're the kind of company that will try and lie about it so I dont know what kind of defence I have because I'm pretty sure I cant prove any of it..

Customer:

Also, 2 of my friends also left prior to their notice and have exact duplicates of my contract but they haven't even been contacted and have started new jobs else where. Having left for similar reasons to me. Does that help my case at all? Becuase they're going by what it says in my contract, when it says the same thing in theirs but they were not contacted at all to pay anything.

Ben Jones :

it is their claim so they have to prove that the losses they are claiming have actually been suffered. As to being treated differently to others that does not matter so much - you each have individual contracts, even if identical, and each will have your own liabilities towards the company so in one case the employer may decide to take no action but it does not mean they cannot take action against another employee in similar circumstances

Ben Jones :

but you can also use constructive dismissal as a result - where you leave because of a breach of contract by the employer and it allows you to leave with immediate effect

Ben Jones :

that's because the contract is already void due to the employer's breach and as such the notice period within it no longer applies

Customer:

How would I go about constructive dismissal? As in, what can I say to prove it was. The only thing I can think of was the jobs they had gotten me to do that I dont think I should have had to do. Often bullied into it. In my contract I was employed as an "IT Technician", but worked under the workshop manager; helping orders and customers and even going on my hands and knees to clean out a water feature.

Ben Jones :

all of that is relevant - you need to argue that the employer has breached the contract in some way that they did not follow its terms. But even if this is not a reason accepted by the court the employer still has to prove their losses as mentioned earlier

Customer:

Thank you by the way, I will leave you good results; just a few more questions if possible.

How will they have to prove I cost them that amount of money if they do come up with proof. I know because I have friends there still that they didn't hire anyone for about 5 months and when they did they got rid of the guy after about a week. And there was 100% another guy there who could do my job.

Customer:

Will they need to show finance figures, or loss of money due to stock? The company sells Radios, all I did was support the team and their computers. Never anything critical that could stop them from selling anything or making money. There was no online market, it was all done via phone too.

Also, how should I present myself in giving information and my defence. I've never been to court so I dont want to lead with a big story because I think the judge would ignore it instead of if I gave short facts?

Ben Jones :

they need to link you not giving notice to the losses they are claiming - ho they do that I can't say as it varies from one business to another but they will need to provide evidence. Don't worry too much about presentation - this is quite informal, it will likely just be in a room with a judge and the other side, it's not a grand affair. Follow the Judge's lead - they will know you are not represented and have no experience so they will ask you questions to get to the bottom of things

Customer:

In your experience do I have a good chance with what I've told you, and if I explained to the judge in the same way are they likely to believe me? I'm not a very good out-speaking person so I will most likely be incredibly nervous and miss facts or information that might be important.

Are the judges generally fair? I've read stories where they basically dont really listen because you've not got a lawyer and side with the opposition. So I'm pretty nervous about that.

Ben Jones :

so many factors can influence an outcome that I cannot say what the outcome would be but you d have valid arguments there and remember that it's for the employer to be able to prove their claim as well. But yes they are fair in these situations, they try and keep things informal and to help the parties where needed - this is the small claims court, it is designed for unrepresented parties like you

Customer:

Okay, thanks very much for your help. I feel a bit better that I could have some chance of winning. Thank's for your time, have a good evening.

Ben Jones :

you too, best of luck

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46196
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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