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Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Employment and Discrimination Law

Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby south1 » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:10 pm

I started to work on a ‘zero hours contract’ for a firm to complete a project which was intended to last for seven weeks. There was a probationary period of 30 hours. After I did 43 hours I was told that I cannot carry on with the project and I was removed from the project.

Technically because I worked more than 30 hours my probationary period was over when I was removed from the project. However it is possible that my employer nevertheless considers that I have been removed from the project because I have failed my probationary period.

My supervisor told me by email that I was removed from the project because I did not do the introduction of work properly and when later I complained I was told also by email that my productivity was not good.

However I consider that these reasons did not correspond to the reasons stated in the documents given to me by my employer to remove a worker from a project, which are that a worker will be removed from a project if he/she did not follow repeatedly the guidance given to her/him by his/her supervisor or underperform for a significant period in comparison of the other workers on the project, for the following reasons:

• If I did not do the introduction of the work properly it is a question of guidance given by the supervisor to the worker and there is no evidence that I refuse to follow the guidance. Moreover my supervisor did not ask me to correct the way I did the introduction and did not give me any guidance concerning this matter

• The introduction of the work does not form part of the project itself.

• My supervisor told me also that I could do another project but not a project of this seniority what is not a good reason to remove me from a project according to my employer’s rule

• I was told that I underperformed but not that I underperformed in comparison to the other workers in the project. I know that I did not underperform in comparison to the other workers in the project because I know what was the work that the others workers did

• My supervisor told me that my productivity was not good because I worked 70 hours even though I work in reality only 40 hours and I had to correct him what is evidence that my productivity was not properly assessed by my supervisor.

• My employer did not follow its own rules to assess my work.

I think that my supervisor did not tell me the real reason why I was removed from the project and that he was looking for an excuse. The reason could be that my employer has phoned to one of my previous employers who told him bad things about me because I issued in the past a claim to the ET against him or it is one of the discriminatory reasons like age, race or disability for example.

I am unhappy because I have refused to work for another firm to work for this firm and at the end I have no work at all. I would like to know if I can bring a claim for breach of contract against my employer because a‘zero hours contract’ means a contract and I would like to know if my employer by not following its own rules concerning the removal of a worker from a project has committed a breach of contract. I would like to claim loss of earnings within a breach of contract and be paid at least the six remaining weeks of the project that I was not paid. I would like to claim also for injury of feelings

I would like to know also if I have to issue my claim to the Employment Tribunal or to the County Court
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby south1 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:15 am

I think that I made a mistake in my first post and I was in a ‘fixed term contract’ and not in a ‘zero hours contract’ because I should have been employed until the end of a specific event i.e. the end of a project. However I would like to know if I can claim for breach of contract because my employer ended prematurely the contract without according to me any good reasons as explained in my first post.

As explained in my first post there is also the issue of the probationary period.

I have an additional issue because the employees of this firm who were in a fixed term contract were entitled to join the pension scheme of this firm and I was prevented from joining it because the contract was ended prematurely by my employer. Therefore I would like to know if I can claim also for this reason and if I can ask this previous employer to enrol me now in his pension scheme
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:54 am

south1 wrote:I think that I made a mistake in my first post and I was in a ‘fixed term contract’ and not in a ‘zero hours contract’ because I should have been employed until the end of a specific event i.e. the end of a project.

The difference is fairly fundamental.
However I would like to know if I can claim for breach of contract because my employer ended prematurely the contract without according to me any good reasons as explained in my first post.

Very likely depends upon the terms of the contract.
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:13 am

I find it very difficult to believe the OP's contract cannot be terminated with notice.

The OP cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal.
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:20 am

Smouldering Stoat wrote:The OP cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

Unless he is right about the latter part of this:
south1 wrote:The reason could be that my employer has phoned to one of my previous employers who told him bad things about me because I issued in the past a claim to the ET against him or it is one of the discriminatory reasons like age, race or disability for example.

And thinking on, if he is right about the former, then was he not attempting to exert a statutory right? Dismissal for that is also exempt from the qualifying period.
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby atticus » Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:07 pm

OP does not indicate any assertion of a statutory right against this most recent employer.
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby south1 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:00 pm

I want to claim for breach of contract because my employer ended prematurely my fixed term contract but I do not want to claim for unfair dismissal. So I think that I do not need to prove unfair dismissal but only that my employer has broken my fixed term contract. As I say in my previous post I think that my employer did not tell me the real reason for my removal from my project and it could be because one of my previous employer told him bad things about me or it is because a discrimination reason like age, race or disability but the problem is that it is very difficult to prove. It is why I prefer to claim breach of contract and not unfair dismissal.

The terms of the contract say my employer can remove a worker from a project if he underperformes repeatedly and it says also that the worker should go through a formal complaint procedure and be warned several times. However this did not happen to me.

However the problem is that my employer considers that I have failed my probation period of the first 30 hours and as a consequence he did not need to go through the formal complaint procedure and warned me several times to remove me from a project. The problem is that my employer has not paid attention that when he removed me from the project these first 30 hours of probation were over. The question is what this probationary period of 30 hours means exactly in my case?
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby south1 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:43 pm

I would like to know if the formal disciplinary procedure in case of underperformance applies also to the probationary period because if yes does the very short probationary period of 30 hours has any sense in law because the disciplinary procedure says that the worker who underperformed could be dismissed if he/she underperform repeatedly after being warned several times what means that his/her underperformance should be assessed during a long period and 30 hours is not a long period?

My other question is does the employer need to have a probation period if there is already a clause in the contract which says that he/she can remove a worker from a project if he/she underperforms?

Therefore I would like to know if I issue a claim to the Employment Tribunal do I need to make any reference in the claim form to my probation period or only to the clause which says that my employer can remove a worker from a project who underperforms?
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby dls » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:08 pm

Presumably the assumption underlying the probationary period is that contractual obligations cease at the end of the period, and continue/restart thereafter on choice.

There _may_ have been a contractual breach, but the extent of damages would be very limited.

Surely the fundamental of a zero hours contract is that the employer has no contractual obligation to offer any work.
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Re: Breach of contract in a 'zero hours contract'

Postby Hairyloon » Mon Sep 12, 2016 2:50 am

dls wrote:Surely the fundamental of a zero hours contract is that the employer has no contractual obligation to offer any work.

OP has said that "zero hours" was in error, and "fixed term" was what was meant.
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