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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49836
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I had a member of staff work (the only one) from

Customer Question

Hi. I had a member of staff work for me (the only one) from October 2014 to May 2015. The business struggled cash flow wise and in May I made him redundant.
In January 2015, we amended his pay terms and annoyingly included a "guaranteed bonus of £1,250 payable in April, July and September".
At the time of his redundancy I hadn't been able to pay the April bonus. He said in an email as we finalised his dismissal that "I appreciate you will still pay me a bonus even if we part ways when cash flow allows".
We continued a working relationship as such where I paid a £100 per week retainer plus a commission on any sales he made. I terminated this last week as he had made only 4 sales between May and Oct 30.
When we met for this, he put me on the spot and asked how much bonus I could pay him and when. I said between £1 and £2k when our property sold, which is now on the market. He agreed to this.
However, he is now sticking in emails to the higher amount and threatening small claims court unless I pay in 7 days.
Does he have a good chance of winning? As far as I could see, his employment ended in May, he agreed not to receive a bonus until cash flow permits and we only "sort of" agreed an amount a week ago, with a condition it would be triggered by a property sale, so he has no case to bring???
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Is he taking you to the tribunal?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, he is looking at a Petty Debts claim (similar to the UK Small Claims Court). The employment relationship terminated on 15 May 2015 after commencing 1 October 2014, so in Guernsey employment law, that option would have never been open to him as you need to be employed for a year.He agreed to the redundancy, and actually the retainer idea was his, but he was not employed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Oh, meant to say, thanks very much! I'm James!
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** my colleague has asked me to assist with your query as it is more my area of law. Are you happy for this to be answered under UK law as we do not have Guernsey law specialists here?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes, no problem at all, Ben. I think in all material concerns there are little to differentiate. Look foward to hearing from you.BEstJames
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Was the bonus originally conditional on anything? Also were all the subsequent discussions and changes made verbally?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Don't think IT was. he proposed in an email and I agreed, to a "guaranteed bonus of £1250 in April, July snd october"How ever redundancy discussions started in April before the bonus was due. Combination of verbal and emails. I have an email for him acknowledging thanks for saying I will pay him a bonus regardless of his future as and when cash flow permits"No further mention of amount until our verbal on 31/10 when he put me on the spot. I said between £1 and £2k but not until our house sells. He agreed. I also signed an email confirming I would pay when the house is sold or before if possible.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Lots of the changes are in emails. Including the redundancy letter contents which he agreed to before it was finalised. That letter was silent on the subject of bonus
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks for your patience. Initially there would have been an agreement for payment of the bonus, which as you stated was guaranteed. He was one bonus payment for April and as it was not conditional on anything he would have been entitled to receive that even if he was dismissed.
You subsequently had some discussions about the payment of the bonus so it would really depend on what the parties’ intentions were and whether there was a clear understanding that the initial terms were changed. There is no way easy way to establish that unfortunately. In the absence of a formal written agreement it would be down to a combination of factors and t could end up being your word against his. If challenged in court it could really go either way, depending on whose evidence is more believable. But these discussions could have certainly resulted in a change to the original payment terms if these were your intentions and he was agreeable to them.
If he is being difficult in accepting these changes and is pushing for court action, you could be clear and make him aware that it would not actually guarantee payment. He would have to pay court fees and spend time pursuing this. It won’t be a quick fix. Then even if he wins, payment still depends on you being able to afford it right now. He could try and take enforcement action but that will cost more and still does not guarantee payment. So tell him that he will just complicate matters by taking legal action, so it is best if he just allows you to pay him as agreed in your last discussions – remind him you do not dispute your liabilities but it is in the interest of both of you to just allow you ro pay him when the property sells, which is when finances will actually allow it. H needs to be realistic in all this.
I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? If your query has been dealt with please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. If you need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.