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Im hoping to get some advice for my partner on an ongoing work issue. My partner works for a company where it relies heavily on contact with customers. This company has always said that because people now a days have a mobile phone plan that includes unlimited minuites and texts they dont see why they should supply a mobile phone or contribute to the bill. This company give every customer my partners personal phone number to contact him on.


My partner now has had his phone temporarily cut off ( this is due to having to make a call to India for work purposes which they have not paid for despite being shown on the bill that it was a work call which has added additional money on to the bill) My partner also has to use his data on his phone which always goes over his limit as he needs to use the maps to get to customer locations.


I also want to add that this company ( my partner has been working for for 3 years) has issued him with a warning about his phone which has absolutley infuriated me! This company also use our electrcity at home and our broadband to update their console systems for the bus! They also use our money to buy batteries and cleaning products for the bus ( which they hardly ever re-imburse)



Also he cannot have sick days. They said to him if he is sick and there is no cover he will be charged from his wages the cost of the party ( upto £300) Also he has missed out on holidays and weddings as they are booking parties so far ahead we as a family cannot plan anything. They have also said that if a party is booked that day ( parties are always booked 6 days a week..upto 3 parties a day so he has one day off a week) he absolutley cannot have that day off.


I'm honestly so sick of this company, i feel like we are being taken this pee out of completely.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated as this is so much to get our head around. I think them issuing him with a warning over his personal mobile phone for work usage was the last straw.


Many thanks for your help

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Yes, they are taking the proverbial.


The tax man would be very interested in this as you can claim tax relief on all the above.

They should supply and fully pay for mobile phone for business use only.

They cannot charge you for cleaning products.

They have no right to be using your electric or broadband.


They cannot charge you for being sick.

I would be concerned on the working time directive too.


I'm saying all this assuming they are employed NOT self employed.


A user called sangie will be along with more info as they have far more experience in employment matters than me.

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Hi Sgtbush.


Thankyou for your reply. I agree with you that they are absolutley taking the proverbial.


I did not know that you could claim tax relief as an empolyee for mobile, i just dont understand why they absolutely refuse to supply a works mobile phone for business use or even contribute to the phone bill, when their whole business relies on customers! Also isnt there an issue with privacy with his giving out his number without permission to any Tom Dick or Harry? With regards to using our electricity and broadband ( also in his own time at home!) they say that he has to take them home to update the systems otherwise the consoles will not work properly.


My partner went to work not long ago with sickness and ( well, you can guess whatelse) and he had to go to work as there was no cover for him, its even worse that he works with children.


Yes i am concered about how much especailly at the weekends he drives.. he can be home at 10pm from being out at 8 in the morning. and then he will have an early start and late finish again the next day.


My partner is an employee, not self employed :) - thanks so much i look forward to Sangie's reply.. my partner has a meeting with them tomorrow to discuss his warning about his phone for their use so any ammo we can go in with would be great.

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Name and shame ?

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To be perfectly honest, this is too confusing. I don't see how the employer can use your money to buy things - do they have access to your bank account? And you say that he's an employee, but significant parts of this description are very much more terms for self employed people than employees. And what had he got a warning for actually doing?


You're either going to need to provide a lot more information, or you really need to take some proper legal advice. If you want advice here you need to start off with the terms of employment and why you say he's an employee. Because, unfortunately, being a lousy employer isn't illegal, and at the moment all you have provided evidence of is that it's a lousy employer.


By the way - how long has he done this job for?

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I understand this is confusing. My partner is a gaming party bus employee and has a perm contract, he is not self employed, he is responsible keeping the vehicle clean and tidy which is absolutley fine BUT he buys the cleaning products as the company dont supply them also batteries that need to be put in the handheld devices for the XBOX, PS4 ETC he is also expected to pay with his own money and then they are meant to reinburse him which they hardly ever do, he keeps the recepits inthe log book where it is collected every friday.


They have warned him because he has had his mobile cut off because we cannot afford to pay the extra on the bill for a company call he had to make to India,also the additional data charges have racked up to nearly double his bill this month) Im waiting to pay it on the 28th BUT because customers cannot contact him on it they have issued him a warning about his phone


There is nothing in his contract that stipulates he must supply and pay for his own mobile phone for company use or pay for cleaning products and use our broadband and electricity at home for their use as well.


He's been doing this job for about 3 years now but because they have got nasty about his phone it has broken the camels back for us and we wanted advise as we feel he is being bullied and blackmailed about this.

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I've got to be honest - I'm not convinced he's an employee. I suspect he's a worker. Which is significantly different. Or, at least, that's the form of the contract; because the law on this is changing every day, so it's hard to be definitive at the best of times even with full information. But I'm pretty sure that you'll find he doesn't have a contract of employment. The other possibility is a form of franchisee.


Either of those circumstances would make this down to what the actual contract says, because it's a contractual issue rather than an employment issue. So if his contract says that he needs to be contactable and he must provide the phone - and given he's done so for three years, then he's probably agreed to such a term whether it's in writing or not - then he's in breach of contract if he isn't contactable. There's nothing, even in employment law, and this may not per se be employment law, that says an employer must provide a phone, even if it's necessary. An employer couldn't force someone to provide their own mobile phone, but if the contract terms are that they must provide contact details for clients, then they can enforce that aspect - how someone does that is then their problem.


To be honest this does sound as though this is going to fall into that while new area of law that is growing up around the gig economy. So we may be looking at issues that are not clear. I think this would be one for face to face legal advice to clarify - but equally, it may be that legal action would be prohibitive anyway because this is such a new area of law, and cutting your losses might be the only real option.


As a matter of interest, if the employer is this bad, why has he stuck it out for three years? It does seem rather perverse. Is there a reason he doesn't have a better option for work? Because getting another job would seem sensible....

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On self employed/ employed question.


What does his payslip say?

What is his tax code

Is tax deducted at source?

Is NI contributions deducted at source?

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Hiya, many thanks for the points above and i do appreciate that the law changes all the time but i can confirm he absolutley is an employee, his contract is a permanent contract and has been forall the time. Tax and national insurance comes is taken out of his wage every month, he is not a contractual employee he has an employee number too, he has been self employed before but not in this job.


My partner has stuck with this employer as they have promised him numerous times pay rises and also advancement on his drivers licence to drive the bigger vehicals - upgrading to a C class licence . So with this in view he has stuck with company.

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Well if you are certain, you must do what any employee must do. Grievances about things you are unhappy with. If you are owed money, grievance followed by letter before action followed by a tribunal claim for unpaid money. There's nothing you can do in law about the warning - he can appeal but that's all. To go to a tribunal he would need to be dismissed. After three years of allowing them to use his mobile phone for work, I'm afraid that's a term of his employment now though, so that's not straightforward. We'd need to know more about what he's "agreed".


The same goes for things like home fuel bills - it all depends on whether he's got any agreement for those things to be reimbursed. I'm afraid that having done it for so long, he may struggle to action any of this.


He doesn't surely believe those promises still?


BTW, workers can have all those things too! The thing that makes me question this is what your said about sickness. If he must provide the service, and compensate for not attending a party, that is operating as a contract for services, not a contract of employment. I hate to labour the point, but on what basis are you positive about your view that he is being treated as a permanent employee? Because not a lot of people know the difference. Workers get payslips and deductions...

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The very recent case involving Pimlico Plumbers may well help him but until that filters down no employer will seriously consider it.


I agree with Sangie, it look as though he is treated as a "worker" and the rights he thinks he has wont be agreed by the company, only forced upon them by a tribunal so get used to the idea that he is looking for another job and soon. Then he can demand those rights (and the shortfall of money) and be in a position for claiming unfair dismissal when they let him go.


Agree about the phone as well, he should have told them at the outset he doesn't have one. As far as the world is concerned I dont have a mobile phone and I am happy to keep it that way.

Edited by Andyorch
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I've done a bit of research. As I suspected, most employers of this type that I can find on Google contracts either worker or franchisee status. Some seem to transition between the former, moving into the latter for the free who make a go of it. I found a few smaller local type ones that might be franchises who employ a handful of staff, but I can't be sure about that. I'm afraid I am still of the opinion that this is a worker who falls into this emerging grey area of employment. And I doubt it will be routine enough law any time soon to suit what he needs to make a claim and for such a claim to be straightforward.


But it's clear in one sense - if he wants to challenge this he needs to go to law, and there is a risk he may not win. That risk isn't insignificant either. So I'd have to advise proper legal advice based on knowing three contractual terms etc. And another job. Because I think this one isn't going anywhere, and he may be tied up in a tribunal for years whilst some of these issues go through the whole court process.


Sorry, but I think any advice now comes too late... It probably should have been, get a better employer.

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