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So I left my job on friday. I did so after a lot of thinking and basically I wasn't happy with the working environment and the ethical manner things were being done.

I didn't give a notice, I simply just wrote a two page letter detailing why I was leaving and put it on my bosses desk (he wasn't in at the time).

I left as though to go to a meeting I had arranged with a client and never returned. Work then called the police to report me missing as my phone also died for the day.

When I eventually got my phone working I had to call the police to say I was OK, etc.

Anyway this morning I have received a letter from my former boss basically I was a terrible employee but he goes on to say two concerning things which I want to know is true or not.

1) "I will assess and confirm to you any client damage that may have occurred or will occur as a direct result of your walk out, which I am certain you are aware is in total breach of your Terms and Conditions of Employment. We will seek to recover 100% of any damage that has or will occur as a direct result of your actions.

2) Overpayment, as you are aware you have claimed to be paid or hours (lunch Hours since your inception) which you are not entitled, I had intended to waive this, however in light of recent events i am not able to do this. We will also be submitting a legal claim for the recovery of this debt.

Can he do these things? Where should I go to for help on this matter?

closed as off-topic by gnat, Joe Strazzere, IDrinkandIKnowThings, user8365, Garrison Neely Oct 7 '14 at 14:52

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  • 11
    Note that this letter was written by him - and not a lawyer. Which means he hasn't consulted a lawyer yet. He might be trying to intimidate you into paying the costs outside the court. Your previous post would suggest he's capable of that. – Prinsig Oct 7 '14 at 13:50
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    Something to consider, does he want everyone to know about his illegal actions regarding the fire escape? Food for thought – RyanS Oct 8 '14 at 19:50
33

The UK is not an "at will" country so you will be subject to contractual obligations:

Introduction to UK Employment Laws for U.S. Employers

This works both ways for the employer and employee, so walking off the job was a bad move. You have signed up to a contract which determines your exit, and you need to stick with it or negotiate it before you leave.

You've caused issues if you were due to meet a client and just went AWOL, the client will have got some idea of what's going on, and it may damage the relationship between the company and the client. If it does, I would think (BUT I'M NOT A LAWYER) that they could sue you for damages on this.

The overpayment, sounds like you've agreed with the employer that you were overpaid (or at least that's what it looks like from his letter, you need to provide a response if this isn't true - if you don't it'll look like you are accepting this point). Whether the boss was actually going to forgive this sum isn't the point, if you've been overpaid they have a right to recoup their money.

So, I think you've made a big miss-step by walking out, especially when you were working out an overpayment. It will probably cost you more now as YOU NEED A LAWYER - NOW.

--UPDATE--

You need an employment lawyer to have a look at your contract. Thinking thorough the possibilities, if you're only 6 or 7 months in, you could still be under some kind of probational time (6 months to a year isn't unusual in the UK), which could limit the amount of notice required (I've seen it be a week until probation is finished).

If you also have accrued holiday leave, it's possible you could have resigned and left straight away (someone I worked with years ago did this, resigned and left same day), so it MAY be possible to shape this, but you still shouldn't have just left a letter and left.

But I wouldn't want to get to legal threats across parties (i.e. by trying to bring the employer's bad moves into the negotiation), could easily become M.A.D.

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    +1. Given the previous thread, it seems clear the boss intends to make things very messy regardless of the rights and wrongs - and breaching the contract gives him plenty of cover to do so. – Julia Hayward Oct 7 '14 at 12:11
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    Absolutely. And you need to remember the UK IT scene is VERY small, I've worked for companies from 2 men and a dog to multinationals, and I've met someone I know (or someone who knows me) at EVERY one of them. Getting slimed by a boss (especially for real issues like walking out) can have serious repercussions. – The Wandering Dev Manager Oct 7 '14 at 12:16
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    Off topic, but: nothing in here would count as wasting police time. Wasting police time requires "knowingly making a false report", and nobody here did that - the employer had a reasonable concern about the safety of an employee, and the employee let the police know he was OK when he was practically able to. – Philip Kendall Oct 7 '14 at 12:23
  • Noted, answer updated – The Wandering Dev Manager Oct 7 '14 at 12:24
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    In addition to this, make sure you make clear the reasons you left with your lawyer. If you just 'had enough' and walked out, you're probably screwed. But if the boss has been abusive, broke his end of your contract etc. you may still be entitled to an unfair dismissal payout regardless of the fact that it was you who left. – Prinsig Oct 7 '14 at 13:27
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When you talk to your lawyer, discuss constructive dismissal.

I've included a link to the gov.uk site to help you: https://www.gov.uk/dismissal/unfair-and-constructive-dismissal

Within the legislation, there is a line saying you can sue your employer for "let[ting] other employees harass or bully you".

Of course your lawyer is best qualified to help you with this and an internet forum can never substitute for those meetings.

Best of luck!

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    Thank you. This is the most potentially useful post. I will be getting in touch with a lawyer soon. – jampez77 Oct 7 '14 at 14:02
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    I also think this is the best course of action. Your employer made your job harder, lied to you and his clients and potentially endangered your life by locking the fire exit. Leaving the job without a 2 weeks notice was not the best course of action, but I agree that job was not a good place to work. – Nzall Oct 7 '14 at 14:19
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    Locking the fire exit may even be enough grounds to refuse to show up at the office, as it is dangerous; the same way your boss could not force you to go to a meeting in a quarantined hospital. (But I have no idea of the UK law). – Davidmh Oct 7 '14 at 15:02
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I am not a lawyer but I think in any situation where you are being threatened with legal action you basically have two options:

  • Get legal advice now, or
  • Wait and see if the threat is followed up on, and then get legal advice.

If you haven't signed any contract then (as I understand it) there may be a de facto contract of some sort between you and the employer, and it may be your employer is in breach of it due to some of the other problems you've described which might let you off the hook in respect of any breaches you could be accused of, but I'm not qualified to judge that. It's possible that your employer goes to a solicitor to try and take some action against you, the solicitor asks to see your contract, your employer admits there isn't one and the solicitor tells your employer not to waste their time and you never hear another thing from them. On the other hand it's possible that you aren't so lucky.

If you can afford it and you want to be prepared for the worst, find a solicitor specialising in employment law. If you can't afford that unless you have to, but you want to get an idea where you stand, you could try an advice service like Citizens Advice, or a relevant trade union. If you're feeling confident, you could just wait and see if your boss's threats are real or just bluster, but you'll have less time to act if they turn out to be real.

-5

Looking at your previous post I would go back to work tomorrow, apologise for walking out and state that the main reason you did so was because the fire escape was locked; you informed the company and that you didn't want to continue working there until the safety issue was rectified.

State that you recognise that you have contractual obligations and will gladly work out the remaining term as requested.

Your boss will probably ask you to leave, at which point say that you will as soon as you're given a letter of immediate dismissal and contract severance.

For future jobs you were ... err ... "travelling" during this period.

  • Brave approach @MikeB and I can see where you are coming from. Not sure the manner of the walk out really lends itself to this approach IMHO. There would have to be written evidence of the notification re: concerns about the fire escape too otherwise it is a "he said she said" and the comapny will just pursue dismissal for gross misconduct and still look to legal action on the points previously mentioned – Mike Oct 7 '14 at 14:44
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    Plus, the OP left a letter effectively saying "I Quit" based on what I've read. Hard to say "I left an unsafe work environment" when his boss has hard evidence countering this claim... – RualStorge Oct 7 '14 at 15:21
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    @Mike Getting fired for gross misconduct would be his best option. This would be under the terms of his contract, the employer would be the instigator and there would be no legal case to pursue. UK employment law is pretty specific that damages have to be quantifiable with clear cause and effect. Within the context of the first post, the whole thing sounds like an idiot company owner who is mouthing off before consulting an employment solicitor – MikeB Oct 7 '14 at 16:55
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    @RualStorge a letter saying "I Quit" could maybe be spun; the OP said it was a "two page letter" presumably spelling out every grievance in excruciating detail. – Carson63000 Oct 7 '14 at 20:34

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