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Thread: blackmail in the workplace??

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    Exclamation blackmail in the workplace??

    Hi all
    My hubby is having some serious issues with his employer right now and is questioning the legality of its actions. To me it seems more like bullying and blackmail....

    He works as an electric meter fitter for a company that has held the contract for replacing and maintaing British Gas electric meters. This contract is about to come to an end and so 3 weeks ago hubby was sent (with only 5 days notice) to a training course 400 miles away to allow him to work on another contract. Only 3 people in this area were chosen to go and nothing was said about what would happen to the remaining staff and in fact my hubby was given the impression that if he did not attend he would more then likely be out of a job when the contract came to and end (at the end of this month).
    Hubby attended the course (although there was little in the way of training... they were loosely shown what needed to be done and were then expected to start the new contract the very next day) Bedlam ensued the next day when jobs were sent down for the new contract but none of the equipment was available! In fact hubby had 2 days where no work had been booked in for him at all. There is no salary with this position and staff are paid per job. If they do.... if they do not work, they do not get paid!.
    Now here comes the good bit...... 3 weeks after this poor excuse of a training course, Hubby has found out that the remaining staff are to be transferred over to British Gas where pay and benefits far exceed those of this company.... (and to further kick him when he is down) have now issued him with a letter to sign that states he has received training and agrees to remain with the company for a period of 12 months! if he leaves the company before then, he will have to repay the training cost of £900 (which will be taken automatically from his wages) If he does not agree to sign the letter, the money will still be taken from him, and he will still not be sent for consideration of transfer to British Gas!!!!

    To say both he and I are furious is a bit of an understatement to say the least.
    He has refused to sign the letter so far.... but what are his legal rights in this situation? we really need some advice on this and fast!!!!
    they are really hassling him over signing this thing


    thanks to anyone that help shed some light on this xx

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    Default Re: blackmail in the workplace??

    If he is employed PAYE its the companies responsibility to pay for all training and PPE. If he is self employed, the company can make him pay for training and PPE.

    My guess is somebody should have made him sign the contract BEFORE training, I have done asbestos operative courses whilst being on PAYE and been signed into a contract where if i leave the company i pay for the training, as I could take that training with me to another company for better money. If the training was not upto standard, a complaint should have been raised at the time.

    I dont know where you stand legally though sorry.

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    Default Re: blackmail in the workplace??

    Thanks for your reply Tommy.

    yes hubby is PAYE and he did make a complaint to his manager (along with his 3 co-workers) only to be told that he was no longer their manager and could (would) not do anything about it. Hubby still has not received any equipment to do the new work and as such has not started on the new contract.

    Having looked around on the site here I had hubby contact ACAS and after explaining the situation to them we believe that first and foremost the company have no right to demand the signing of this letter. we also believe that it is not for the company to decide to keep hubby against his will and place him on another contract and that he has the right along with his fellow colleagues (working on the same contract yet not chosen for this additional training) to be transferred to British Gas when they take the contract back in house.

    Despite many attempts by my husband to contact managers for information he has come up against a brick wall, there are only rumours as to what the pay structure for the new contract will be (although previous rumours from within the company have proved correct). The future does not look bright, we have no idea of the length of the new contract, the pay structure is vastly less (rumoured) then the engineers working for the new company are getting and the work load is double what they are expected to do. As it is hubby is constantly being given a work load that is impossible to complete and like the others has been given work for this new contract that cannot possibly be done due to lack of equipment. He has thus far managed to avoid working on the new contract at all because of this (other members of staff were told to use sub- standard equipment and work without the proper PPE).

    The company are deliberately withholding information about the british gas transfer and in fact all other staff have attended a meeting to begin the transfer procedure.

    I am wondering if in fact hubby does complete jobs for the new contract if it would be seen as acceptance on his part! as well as refusal to sign this letter we have discussed refusing to even attend jobs for this new contract ........ Thankfully Hubby has only 1 more full working day (still on the old contract) and is on call till sunday night before going on leave for 2 weeks.

    Legal advice would be greatly appreciated .... I have advised hubby to take professional advice as soon as he is able (during his holiday) but we need to move fast, Hubby is adamant he wants to stay with the contract and make the move to british gas.

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    Default Re: blackmail in the workplace??

    As I understand my own standard permanent work contract, if I undertake external training (paid for by my employer) that shall 'further my career', e.g. NEBOSH, then I would be expected to repay the training fees, if I leave within 1 yr of completing training.

    Internal courses essential for the day to day performance of the job are exempt.

    I also believe it would be unacceptable to deprive some of the relevant transferrable workforce from TUPE protection if they were likely to experience financial penalty from doing so.
    Acas - Transfer of undertakings (TUPE)

    If they were intending to select some staff for retention and new training for new working contracts, this should have been done in an open consultative manner, with staff being provided with clear options.

    I would not sign the letter and I would demand to be transferred under the same pay and conditions as colleagues. If they refuse and deduct pay, you would need to take them to tribunal through ACAS, so there could be a delay seeing that money.

    Sounds like the whole thing has been hugely mishandled, it's unlikely the firm has got any of this right, so fight back, but do check first that the rumoured pay and conditions are all they're cracked up to be!








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    Default Re: blackmail in the workplace??

    Thanks Celestine
    Hubby is talking to the 3 other colleagues in the same position and they are making a stand together by refusing to sign the letter. I believe 1 of them is also trying to contact British gas direct regarding the transfer!
    This whole thing is totally underhand and hubby is understandably stressed ..... I have just started a new job myself that requires me to be away from home for a 2 day on 2 off rota, the stress hubby is under is really NOT helping that situation either ...... think we may all end up being sectioned under the mental health act if this keeps up for much longer lol

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    Default Re: blackmail in the workplace??

    I know it is some time ago now but could you tell me how you and your hubby got on with your tupe over to bg.
    I only ask because I am in a similar situation right now.
    Thanks.

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    Default Re: blackmail in the workplace??

    Hi twilightgeek,

    It would probably be best to give an outline of your particular circumstances.
    (AKA NOBBY!)

    This is only my opinion - "
    Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

    You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
    Cohen, Herb

    There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
    gets his brain a-going.
    Phelps, C. C.

    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
    The last words of John Sedgwick

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