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Workers should have received statement of rights after one month
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that a hotel worker is entitled to compensation because her employer failed to give her a statement of rights after one month of employment.
The case involved three Polish workers who were dismissed after they complained about “persistent shortfalls in their wages, late payment and a falsification of their wage slips”. Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) requires that an employer should provide employees with a statement on the terms and conditions of work within two months of beginning employment.
However, none of the workers in this case were given such a statement. The Employment Tribunal at the first hearing held that two of the workers were automatically unfairly dismissed and awarded them four weeks’ pay in compensation. However, it ruled the third worker, Miss J Woronowicz, had only been employed for six weeks and so the employer had not breached the regulations because the two-month time limit had not been reached.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has overturned that decision. Judge Stacey held that the obligation “to provide the statement continues for employees with one month or more service, whether or not the employment relationship is ended in its second month. “It does not follow from the flexibility afforded to an employer by section 1(2) as to when the statement of initial employment particulars must be provided, that there is no requirement to provide a statement if the contract ends within two months.”
Judge Stacey added the following advice to employers: “It goes without saying that whilst sections 1, 2 and 198 ERA 1996 represent the minimum floor of legal rights, it is best practice for the written particulars to be provided as soon as possible to protect both parties and in order to minimise risk of ambiguity or misunderstanding of the terms agreed that form the contractual basis of the employment relationship.” The case was remitted to the Employment Tribunal to decide whether Miss Woronowicz should receive two or four weeks’ pay in compensation.
A separate claim of race discrimination involving all three workers, which was dismissed by the Employment Tribunal, was remitted back to be heard by a fresh tribunal.