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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My boss have me a contract to sign and we must have it for

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My boss have me a contract to sign and we must have it for him by Monday, I have read the terms and conditions, and it states in the contract that if any damage happens to the machinery we must pay for it out of our wages and secondly, he does not want anyone working at the premises if they are part of any union. I am part of the union and have been for the past 8 years and if he finds out I fear he may sack me. Is this legal?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?

Customer: Hi thanks for your reply, been there for just over a year and my friend is in the same situation and he has only been given one today aswell. He has been there for just over 2 years
Ben Jones :

Does this contract change your existing contract?

Customer: This is my first contract that I've been given.
Ben Jones :

is the union officially recognised in your workplace? Or have you tried to get it officially recognised?

Customer: No the union is not recognised in the company. This is a small business and only 6 of us work there. He doesn't want nothing to do with unions at all
Customer: But it's not just mentioning the union I fear it's the fact that he expects for us staff to pay for broken machinery out of our wages if we sign the contract as it's written in there. And also breaks for he only expects us to have 30 minutes out of a 8 hour day
Ben Jones :

Generally, you need at least 2 years’ service to be protected against unfair dismissal, however there are certain situations when a dismissal would be automatically unfair, regardfless of how long you have worked there for.


The law protects employees from detriment or dismissal for:

  • Being members of an independent trade union

  • Not being members of an independent trade union

  • Taking part, or having taken part, in the activities of an independent trade union

  • Having used or proposed to use trade union services


So if you are dismissed for any of the above reasons you can claim automatically unfair dismissal against the employer.


Paying for breakages can be legally introduced if you agree to it and sign the contract. The issue there is that you will not be protected against unfair dismissal if you refuse to sign that and the dismissal was based on that factor alone.


Finally, the breaks – under law you are entitled to a minimum 20 minutes rest for every 6 hours of work. So if you work 8 hours you are still only entitled to just 20 minutes, meaning that by giving you 30 minutes the employer is already giving you more than you are legally entitled to.

Customer: Ok thank you, XXXXX XXXXX I refuse to sign the contract on Monday and he dismiss me for it is that legal?
Ben Jones :

if it just for that reason, it would be legal as long as you get a week's notice

Customer: Right ok thank you, XXXXX XXXXX sure if some parts of the contract is legal anyway. But thanks again for the help.
Ben Jones :

you are most welcome, all the best

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