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Share Scheme Dispute - Am I entitled to compensation?


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At the start of the year I became aware of a benefit that I was entitled to at work and that I hadn't been informed about. Details of the share scheme I was eligible to join were tucked away on the company's intranet site and I had never seen it nor been informed about it before. It detailed a share scheme and stated that 'When you are eligible to join you will be invited to participate in your company’s Plan. You will be issued with an explanatory booklet, a copy of the Partnership agreement and will receive a unique password from xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx’, it offers no explanation however on when an employee becomes 'eligible' and what qualifies 'eligibility'.

Therefore in my opinion this clearly puts the burden on the company, the intranet page doesn't tell you how you'll know when you've become 'eligible' to join and clearly states you'll be invited by the company. I have been at my company for several years and was never invited to join the scheme.

I originally complained about this issue direct to the company in march. It took them several months to deal with and they were very uncooperative e.g I phoned up/emailed to ask progress and they often wouldn't respond and in the end I received a letter that I should have received years ago, inviting me to join the scheme!!! I wrote back and complained, highlighting that the letter was 4 years too late and stated my grounds for compensation. I didn't receive a response until september and it merely stated 'we recognise no grounds to compensate you' and 'details of the scheme are clearly stated on the company intranet site' and I could have joined at any time. During the process the company did ask me to send a spreadsheet detailing how much compensation I thought I was entilted to, I don't understand why they would do this if as they say 'there are no grounds to compensate'.

I formally appealed this decision and once again it took a disproportionate amount of time to finally receive a response. Once again I had to chase up the matter several times and didn't even receive polite courtesy emails along the way. The company's final decision is that they won't compensate me for the reasons quoted above. I disagree though, the scheme isn't clearly detailed at all, it doesn't explain when an employee becomes eligible and it places all the burden on the company clearly stating they'll invite you to join.

Had I known about this scheme I would have participated. I am involved in another share save scheme at my company and had I known about this one I would have invested a certain amount per month, I hold the company responsible for me losing out.

I also have noticed that in my company disciplinary procedure notes it says that in each stage of a complaint that I should have received a response within 10 working days, the company have clearly not followed this procedure taking 2-3 months each stage to respond.

Should I take up this compensation matter externally and what channels do I go through?

Any advice would be greatfully received.

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I don't see any case for compensation - certainly there isn't one in employment law, and although civil litigation isn't my area of law, I an't see one there either. The information about the scheme was available on the intranet, and I cannot see any case to bring that the employer had an obligation to bring that to your attention. I very much doubt that there is anything civil law could do about this, and the cost of obtaining legal advice would undoubtedly wipe out anything you might gain.

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I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.

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