read part one Here.
After quitting my job, waiting around to hear back from my job interviews was frustrating. I don’t like waiting around, knowing that there is no further way I can influence what happens next, when everything is suddenly out of my hands.
But at least I had something to concentrate on in that things had been left largely unresolved with my last employer.
Even though I had been messaging him every day asking why my last payment was still not through, I had nothing back. I was still in touch with all the other staff who had left shortly after me for the same reason, and none of them had heard anything from him either. One ex colleague – and current friend – had had a phone call from him, on a hidden number, saying that he was having problems with his phone and that things would be sorted “soon”.
We’d heard this before. We didn’t believe it.
We also hadn’t heard a lot back from the various authorities we had submitted reports to. Some of this we expected – most of them said it would take a while for our reports to be considered and some made no obligation to get back to us at all.
But I wasn’t satisfied with that, so I went to my local Citizens Advice Bureau to speed things along.
There, I was told that due to various cuts, there was nothing they could do for me in person and that I needed to phone them. Which was annoying, but understandable – the office was so bare and empty and crammed between chicken shops that I felt sorry for it.
The man on the phone was helpful in a way that wasn’t very helpful.
He said that because of the extent of legal breaches committed – missing pay, and failure to provide legal documents, and potential breaches of charity laws – it was too complex to be handled by the CAB. That meant that each issue needed to be dealt with by a different organisation. We needed to file reports, independently, with the Charity Commission, with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and with ACAS.
We’d already done the first ones, but it was explained to me more fully what they would do.
Not a lot.
They would put a flag on our ex employer’s name and the organisation name, so they would be watched closely in future and maybe stopped if they did it again. Maybe. But maybe not. And it wouldn’t mean that anyone would get paid.
But no matter how much evidence I had that they had broken employment and charitable laws, we couldn’t do anything about it until a judge had ruled in our favour.
The man on the CAB helpline suggested we get in touch with a number of law organisations that offered free advice for people in our position. He said it was essential if we expected to get any of the pay owed to us, but even then it was unlikely.
I thanked him and called ACAS, who said that all they could really help us with was the lack of our final payments. They said that to recover it, we need to submit a form claiming the money we’re owed and saying that we are prepared to take him to court over it. Then, they contact the employer and encourage him not to let it get taken to court, and if nothing comes of that, then open an employment tribunal in court.
We could submit a joint form, which would give our argument more weight, but it was still a lot of hassle for one week’s worth of money.
But dealing with all the nonsense made it clear that it wasn’t about the money. By this point, everyone had basically moved on. Looked for other jobs, maybe got other jobs, would probably have forgotten about it in favour of other things if we weren’t all still talking about it together. We could manage without that bit of money.
But if we left it, he could do it again. We had found people online who had described him doing it before, but who had done nothing to stop it because they had other things to deal with. Like finding another job. Putting a tribunal in motion can take months, especially as ACAS tries as often as possible to keep settled civilly, out of court.
The flags we had set up would achieve nothing because he wouldn’t be punished until evidence had been put before a judge, which meant nothing would change until – at least – our tribunal, if even then. We weren’t fighting for our money back any more, but to make sure that the person who had wronged us – who had exploited us and broken the law and then just disappeared – was punished for it.
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