Solicitor “fobbed off” staff who wanted employment contracts

Tribunal: Solicitor did not submit response to claims

A solicitor who “fobbed off” three members of staff who repeatedly requested employment contracts has been ordered to pay nearly £10,000 for constructive dismissal and unlawful deductions from wages.

Employment Judge Anthony Ross said Toslim Ahmed, principal of Universal Solicitors in London’s East End, “clearly failed” to provide employment contracts.

“This was a real disadvantage to the claimants because they did not know what had been agreed, for example, in respect of notice pay nor exactly when they would be paid nor anything about their holiday entitlement.”

Judge Ross described Mr Ahmed’s failure to provide the claimants with a statement of terms and conditions, or contracts of employment having that effect, was “an egregious breach of the statutory requirements”.

This was because the law firm “should either have known the law or have been able to ascertain the relevant law”.

Further, the claimants had requested contracts “several times” and the solicitors “fobbed the claimants off” by saying he would deal with it but failed to do so.

The judge said he was unable to entertain Mr Ahmed’s argument that the claimants were not employees, because the question had been determined in an earlier default judgment after the solicitor failed to submit a response to the claims.

“In any event, from the evidence that I heard, the claimants were employed by the respondent. For example, they requested contracts of employment and were never told that they were not employees.”

Judge Ross said MT Chowdhury and MO Faruq were employed by Mr Ahmed as caseworkers for two months to 30 November 2019.

ME Hossain was employed for 11 days fewer, but his role was not made clear. However, he earned more than the caseworkers –£26,400 a year compared to £15,800.

Judge Ross said the three claimants each resigned because of Mr Ahmed’s “unprofessional conduct” and were constructively dismissed, entitling them to damages for breach of contract.

Awards for unpaid wages, notice pay, holiday pay and the failure to provide statements of terms – as per section 38 of the Employment Act 2002 – totalled £2,919 for each of the caseworkers and £3,837 for Mr Hossain.

In a brief further judgment, Judge Ross dismissed an application by Mr Ahmed for reconsideration of the awards.

The judge said the “only argument” to support the application was that the members of staff were not employees.

“There is no evidence that I failed to exercise my discretion in a just and equitable way.”

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