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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32086
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was on a zero hour contract, working as a beautician for

Customer Question

I was on a zero hour contract, working as a beautician for 'Arch Angelz', a concession operating from Debenhams in Salisbury. I was very loyal for three years, building up the business considerably to the extent i recieved several commendations in their company magazine.
I left suddenly several weeks ago because i had an opportunity to set up my own small business.
I was scheduled for a small number of hours the following week but nothing was guaranteed, even those hours could have been cut if they felt it necessary. The company tend to use the sudden imposition of shorter hours as a way to discipline staff for minor problems.
I felt that nothing was guaranteed for me and so could go at very short notice. Other women have done so with no sanction.
Now the company have taken about £80 wages they owed me for my work and told me twice by letter and once by email that I owe them about £800 for loss of earnings for hours i was allegedly scheduled for, but did not actually work?
They further threaten that if I don't pay up they will refer me to a debt collecting agency and wreck my credit worthiness.
Can they do this?
It would be very expensive to use a lawyer to help me, is it worth referring this to my local news paper, or at least advising them i am going to do so?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Did you have a contractual notice period you had to give and also did your contract state they could make such deductions?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I need to find my contract and will try to do so ASAP.

However' the series of emails from them suggests there was a contractual notice period, though I am not sure how long it was.

Their emails also suggest they could make these deductions, however, they are deducting a months work rather than a week which was all the work I was guaranteed. I did offer to work this in order to save a lot of fuss but they rejected me on the basis I was working elsewhere which at that time I was not, although I was planning to go self employed. I have these emails available if you want to view them.

Notwithstanding all this, are such clauses in the contract breaching 'Unfair Clauses Legislation', because they clearly are unfair.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Such clauses would not necessarily be unlawful so it is best if you could find the contract first and then I can have a look at them to see whether they are enforceable. Thanks
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Very busy over the weekend. We are trying to locate the contract and will contact you ASAP when done.


Jeff & Drita Lowe

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Been busy. We will reply soon.

Jeff Drita Lowe

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
No problem at all, take your time
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK Ben,

I have found the contract. I will scan it tomorrow and send it to you if that is the best way forward. However, I will outline a few essential points.

1/ The manner in which it is typed up is a bit unclear but it appears I am only required to give one weeks notice and so how can they claim a months loss of earnings?

2/ The crucial part of section 4 states;

'This is a zero hours contractual agreement. Due to the nature of your role there are no set or standard hours of work for you. You are not guaranteed a minimum number of hours of work each week and in a particular week, you may receive no work at all from the company. However, the company will endeavour to give you advanced notice of the hours that you will be (required) (offered) to work in a particular week.

(You are not obliged to accept the hours of work offered and the company has no obligation to offer you work on an ongoing basis).

3/ Section 7 deals with deductions; it states in capital letters;


This includes any apparent damaged caused to the furniture (not wear and tear) etc, etc, etc ......................... and loss of sales due to an employees behaviour. etc, etc, ..............

Deductions can and will be made if losses to the company are resultant of an employees actions such as unauthorised absence, failure to go into work without notice, leaving work early without permission.

4/ Another section number 6 deals with 'holidays'; but I had not asked for a holiday, I had merely told them I would not be available for those 12.5 hours the following week.

When a staff member needed to take time off the practice was to inform management who would find a replacement. In practice they normally insisted that we find a replacement ourselves and inform them. I tried to do this but failed, I informed management that I could not find a replacement and could not work these hours on this occasion, this was with three days notice and on numerous previous occasions replacement staff have been found for their different concessions with far less notice e.g.. I have often filled a vacancy for someone who has gone sick at a moments notice.

I then took a week off to attend a course and did not consider my reasons for not being available were their business anyway. This was 'private' to me.

Upon return I received an email and the company had offered me 12 hours for the following week which was completely inadequate for my needs. This was essentially their way of punishing me for not accepting hours that I was not under any obligation to accept the week before anyway. I was pencilled in for 12 hours per week for the rest of the month but nothing was guaranteed. I was also the senior member of staff at this particular concession and junior staff were being given my hours.

At this point I sent an email to the company stating would not be working for this company any more.

I feel that although the contract states/or seems to state I should give a 'minimum period' of notice, it doesn't make it clear what that is. If it is meant to reflect what notice the company should give me, it appears to be 'one week'. I can see nothing that states I must give a months notice. I also (mistakenly)offered to work this period when they threatened me but they rejected this on the basis I was working elsewhere, which I was not!.

The contract embodies a number of contradictions. The one most affecting me is that I am not obliged to accept the hours 'offered' but can be sanctioned for absence. Another is that I only need give a weeks notice but they are claiming almost £900 from me for a months work.

They have so far sent two invoices by email and one by post. About two days ago they sent an email stating they had sent my details to a debt collecting agency.


Jeff & Drita Lowe

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
thank you I will take these into account when I check the contract once you have forwarded it to me
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Ben

I can't scan but can I fax it over to you. Jeff

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
no access to fax I'm afraid, do you not have the documents in PDF format? Or maybe you can take a photo and post on here?