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taratill, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6466
Experience:  15 years experience of advising on employment law matters
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I am an employer and offered employment to a young individual

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I am an employer and offered employment to a young individual two and half months ago on proviso he committed to employment for two years. This was communicated by e mail including duties, hours of work, pay, study package, overtime, termination, confidentiality etc.
Acceptance of above was acknowledged by e mail and start date confirmed. A hard copy setting out above was sent, signed and returned by the employee. The signed copy however, did not state the offer of employment was subject to two year commitment.
The individual is quite competent and surprisingly has tendered his resignation sighting he wishes to work in larger work environment. We are small business employing five staff as well as myself. The other staff are aged 20 to 40 years of whom two are male and three females.
The individual is quite competent and has been supported with training guidance by myself and other staff.
I have discussed and tried to understand his reason for wishing to leave but he has not been able to offer any.
Our business is such where there is legislative and technological change affecting our client and our processes. Nonetheless there is no apparent reason why the individual should seek to leave within such a short spell.
Whilst the work is driven by deadlines it is not stressfull. I would describe myself as fair and tolerant employer.
Though I am inclined to accept his resignation. I am concerned of the impact on our work and viability of recruiting a suitable replacement as we generally do two thirds of our turnover in second half of the year. I am also concerned of another staff who had a joined a year ago of what she may do, having committed to same duration.
Although I have said I would be willing to waive requirement of two years I have asked that he stays at least till the end of year. If he refuses, from practical point of view it seems I would have to let him go but to enforce a longer commitment can I use two year committment as negotiating tool or was it not binding as not mentioned in terms of employment acceptance letter.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. How long has he worked for you for now and are you likely to suffer a financial loss if he does not work till the end of the year?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

two and half months. we would could potentially suffer financial loss from failing to deliver work we have received. We act for clients on a recurring basis dealing with payroll, tax returns.

It will take a replacement atleast three to four months to settle in.

Trained staff are generally not available or need to be paid 50% more. The individual employed is 20 years old and is paid £8ph plus 28 days annual leave.

He is die to go on vacation next week for two week and wishes to work remaining week and leave.

It is my view that in the absence of a written notice clause it is extremely difficult to hold him to work for you for a year.
You should note that even senior executives are rarely required to work in excess of 3 months notice so a contract requiring a person to work a minimum period of 2 years is extremely unusual and very difficult to achieve.
Even if the contract was clear regarding the agreement to stay 2 years (and at the moment it is your word against his) your only recourse would be to claim in breach of contract if he failed to work the full period.
Given that he has only worked 2.5 months for you and by your own account is not fully settled as it would normally take 3-4 month to settle you will struggle to establish that a loss is suffered if he leaves without working the full period.
From an employment law perspective I fear that what you are trying to do to retain staff is quite unworkable. I understand your concern about losing staff that you are training as it is a real problem especially for small businesses but it is always a risk from both parties that it will not work out.
It might be easier to charge reasonable training fees and recoup them in the event that an employee leaves within a short space of time.
I am sorry that this is not the answer you were hoping for but it would be unfair for me to give you unrealistic expectations.
If you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The individual has just e mailed to say has thought about it and wishes to leave on 21st August but is willing to leave earlier if so required.

I am concerned of the impact on other staff and wondering whether it may be best to let him leave immediately and pay whatever pay and accrued holiday is due on proviso he agrees.

Am I at risk of later being sued for wrongful dismissal.

The only risk is if his contract sets out a notice period and you do not let him work it then he could sue you for wrongful dismissal, failure to pay notice.
If his contract is silent then statutory notice of a week applies. If this is the case then you can say you do not require him to work notice and pay a week in lieu plus a payment for outstanding accrued holiday.
If you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.
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