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Case Study: Why it Pays to Pay a Solicitor?


John instructed us because he thought £570 had been unfairly deducted from his final salary.

The situation

John was employed by Happy Engineers – an engineering company. Happy Engineers held a contract with their local Council. They paid John a weekly rate of pay and this included his travel from home in the company van at the start of his working day.

In 2013, Happy Engineers lost their contract with the Council and the tender was won by Botch Boilers. John had protection under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) so that he retained all of his existing terms when he automatically transferred to Botch Boilers. Contrary to his rights under TUPE, Botch Boilers wanted to harmonise John and his colleagues’ employment terms with the rest of their workforce.

Botch Boilers converted John’s pay to an hourly rate, and then moved from paying him weekly to monthly. In the course of these changes Botch Boilers got their calculations wrong and underpaid John by about £70 per week.

But that wasn’t all. Whereas Happy Engineers had allowed John to set off from his home at 8am, Botch Boilers required John to arrive at customers’ homes for 8am. This effectively meant that John was expected to travel in his own time and since Botch Boilers covered a wider geographical area, John’s working day was made longer for no additional pay.

John put up with this arrangement for over a year before he became dissatisfied and resigned from Botch Boilers. Shortly after John resigned and returned the company van, he was disappointed to find that Botch Boilers had deducted all of his final salary (£570) because he had caused minor damage to the roof.  Botch Boilers also sent John an inflated invoice for the balance of the repairs.

John was therefore fearful of a County Court claim – and he was also adamant that he shouldn’t be penalised for genuine wear and tear.

John asked our Employment Team to help him recover his lost wages.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

We examined John’s contract and pay slips and identified that not only was the deduction from John’s final pay unfair, as the claim for van damage was exaggerated, but Botch Boilers had been under-paying him.

We also found that the changes to John’s working day were void under the TUPE Regulations and, as such, John was entitled to be paid for his travel time. Although John was unable to quantify his time exactly, we provided calculations based on realistic averages.

Initially, Botch Boilers were unwilling to acknowledge that John had been underpaid at all and they refused to accept that John could be entitled to payment for travelling to and from customers’ homes.

The Company’s HR Director presented arguments which were contradictory and which did not match the various lengthy spreadsheets that she and Happy Engineers had produced.

We persuaded the HR Director to instruct Employment Law solicitors in order to seek an expert opinion.

The result

Their solicitors referred them to the appropriate Employment Law which confirmed that our case for payment was correct. We were able to secure a compensation payment of over £11,000 and persuade the Company to write-off the van damage. John’s legal fees were less than £2,000 including VAT.

By raising complex arguments under TUPE and persuading the employer to settle before legal proceedings were issued, we were also able to ensure that a large proportion of this compensation payment was tax-free.

Consequently John recovered a lot more than £570 and his case illustrates that it pays to pay a solicitor!

Client’s testimonial:

‘I’d like to say thank you to you for your excellent work in handling the case.

You have been great to deal with and kept me in the picture with regards to the possible outcomes and costs at all times and I appreciate that.’

To speak to an expert Employment lawyer contact us today on 01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

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