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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50202
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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We are a small business and we hire people on a

Customer Question

We are a small business and we hire people on a freelance/self employed basis to help with admin and reception. We do have written agreements in place but we had a new person start and train at a lower rate then after a period and upon successfully completing a test in our business systems would take on more responsibility and get paid a higher rate. I did not make him sign the agreement we currently use as it would not have reflected his. The person did not really master tasks or perform well on test so was let go via email but in a kind way and encouraged to stay in touch etc. In the email we requested that the person prepare final invoice that we would pay once the person returned the keys to the business. The person wrote back in a huff saying they wanted to be paid first then they would return the keys. So our question is we really don't things to proceed in this order. Our current employees who work at the same role have signed agreements that state they need to return company property when requested or they will need to pay for us replacing them. Although he didn't sign the agreement that said this he had a paper copy and reviewed it (as we were going to add in the change of salary upon successful completion of training period). We have no problems paying a final invoice and we state in writing that we will, we just want our property returned first.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

How long ago exactly did this person start?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They started in October 2016
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you in a short while. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your questions to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Many thanks for your patience. It is a tricky situation because you could just reach a stand off where you refuse to pay them and they refuse to return the key and it could just remain that way until one of you budges. This is not ideal as it can go on indefinitely. I would say that the best way to do this is to arrange for a mutual exchange in person where this individual meets with you, perhaps in the office or at a neutral location and they hand over the key, getting their payment in return. I am not sure if you can arrange for a cheque to be drawn or for a bank transfer to be actioned there and then but at least try and offer a solution similar to that. If they refuse then so can you in terms of paying them. Furthermore if they do not return the key you can warn them that you will have to look at changing the locks and that such expenses will be deducted from their pay so that may prompt them to reconsider their position.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay but would we get into trouble for withholding pay? I assume that is mainly for salaried employees. I don't want to withhold pay then be accused of doing something illegal. If he is keeping keys that don't belong to him is it theft? Of course we could do a mutual exchange but I just want to know my rights.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Withholding pay is only an issue when it is ‘wages’ so in relation to employees. What you are doing is potential breach of contract but so are his actions. You cannot be penalised for what you are doing, just be ordered to pay what you owe him. This would not be theft as he is not intending to permanently deprive you of them, just hold them whilst you pay him what he is due. Hope this clarifies?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But it is mt property & I asked for it back. I did call 101 non emergency Police & they created a report & said if he won't give back keys they will go to his residence to retrieve them
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

I am surprised the police have agreed to do this. 95% of the time they will leave it as a civil matter. You are free to use them if you can - it is free and there are no risks. But if he refuses and the police cannot help further then the above recommendations of a mutual exchange are the most reasonable solution

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. If this has answered your question please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars from the top of the page. I spend a lot of time and effort answering individual queries and I am not credited for my time until you leave your rating. If you still need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.