Advice Clinic - Breach of contract & deduction of wages

The Claimant was employed by the Respondent as a Second Chef earning £7.46 an hour; however when she deputised for the Head Chef due to his absence the Claimant would earn time and half extra.In 2011 the Respondent made the Head Chef redundant and their duties were incorporated into the Claimant’s role and her job title changed to Chef. The Claimant was not given written confirmation of this term incorporated into her contract of employment.The Claimant alleged that further to the Head Chef position being made redundant she was performing additional tasks that were previously those of the Head Chef, and as such the Respondent increased her pay to £11.19 per hour. The Respondent denies that the Claimant carried out these tasks, but rather it was the Catering Manager who took over these additional tasks.  They do admit however, that as the Claimant worked an additional 2 hours and was assisting the Catering Manager so her pay would be increased to £8.50 per hour. The Claimant raised a grievance on 1 June 2012, stating that the role she performed was more akin to that of Head Chef and therefore she was entitled to a pay increase.  The Respondent found her grievance to be unsubstantiated. The Claimant contends that she has a contractual right to £11.19 per hour, which was incorporated into her contract of employment by verbal agreement. She contends that from March 2012 the Respondent has made a number of unlawful deductions from her wages by only paying her £8.50 per hour since January 2012 and that these deductions are continuing. The Tribunal concluded that although the amounts paid by the Respondent to the Claimant were confusing as she was paid by way of overtime rather than an increased hourly rate, she was in fact never paid at the rate of time and a half (£11.19). The payment of an extra 2 hours per day was less than time and a half, amounting to £9.45 per hour. The Tribunal also found there was no contractual agreement that the Claimant was entitled to be paid £11.19 per hour when she covered for the Head Chef. It may have been that there was an informal and casual arrangement with her previous employers to be paid time and half on occasions when she covered his cooking duties but the evidence does not support a finding of an oral contractual agreement because there was no documentary evidence to support the Claimant’s contention. Key points:
  • The Tribunal did not agree with the Claimant’s argument, due to no credible evidence.
  • If the Claimant was correct she would be receiving a higher hourly rate than the Head Chef for doing a job with substantially fewer responsibilities.
The Tribunal dismissed the claimant’s claim for breach of contract and unlawful deduction of wages.

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