One of our clients managed to stop his ex-employee claiming back £1,250, which he had deducted for huge damages to her car.
Oh, and £500 in parking tickets!
The employee was an account manager, with company car, whose job involved driving round her region, and she’d been there around three months.
And during those first few months, parking fines slowly started landing through the letterbox.
But she didn’t pay them, despite being asked by her manager to do so.
Instead, she said she was going to contest them.
All £520 worth of them.
Here’s the problem for our client: as the fines were related to a company car, if the employee didn’t pay them, then the company would have had to.
Also, she wasn’t making any sales, so she wasn’t performing as needed, and it seemed likely that a dismissal was on the cards, made easier by the fact that the employer had extended the probation period, giving her only one week’s notice.
So we gave her the notice, and asked for the car back.
And that’s when we discovered damage to tune of £1,250, PLUS £400 for dented wheel rims, PLUS £520 for the unpaid parking tickets.
Not wanting to land her an insurmountable bill, we chopped the lump sum in half, and deducted that from her final salary.
Shortly after, ACAS Early Conciliation were on the phone, claiming that the ex-employee didn’t know anything about deductions, and had never seen a handbook, so it was unlawful for us to deduct these amounts from her final pay.
Thankfully for our client, that wasn’t the case.
The contract – which the ex-employee had read and signed – refers to the employee handbook at least five times, advising that there is more detail in there.
The handbook has sections on deductions from pay, how expenses are paid, and company car rules (including damages to car and paying parking fines).
She’d not only signed the contract, but had also signed a separate letter to say she had read and understood the handbook. This was part of a documented induction.
Having sent all that “proof” to ACAS, the ex-employee has gone very very quiet.
We would have won in the end anyway, but it would have been more onerous and potentially more expensive if we had not had the clauses in the contract and handbook.
Our documentation protects you when it goes pear-shaped – does yours do that for you?!