Thursday, 1 September 2016

Employers - the buck stops with you

Employers who bring in a recruitment agency to fill a key vacancy have been warned they could face tough financial penalties if things don’t work out.

Gemma Workman is an employment lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and she said an employment tribunal ruling had brought home the extent of an employer’s responsibilities towards candidates.

“The tribunal ruled that an employer must pay out damages to a candidate after the company withdrew a job offer made by a recruitment agency acting on their behalf.

“And so they had no choice but to pay out £3,000, as the candidate had verbally accepted a job offer made by the agency.”

Gemma said the tribunal decided that given the seniority of post the claimant had been offered, it was only reasonable that he should receive the equivalent of one month’s salary.

“This is because any written contract at that level in the organisation would have a minimum reasonable period of one month’s notice. But as the employer terminated the contract without notice by withdrawing the job offer, the candidate was entitled to damages equal to a month’s salary in lieu of notice.”

Gemma said the employer had appointed the recruitment agency to identify suitable candidates for vacancies as maintenance engineers, and although there was a dispute as to exactly what was said, the tribunal accepted the man’s claim that he was offered, and accepted, a post.

“The employer though denied a job offer had been made, and the candidate brought a claim for damages for breach of contract which the tribunal upheld – ruling that the employer should pay one month’s salary of £2,708 plus tribunal fees of £390.

“Employment law is a minefield that’s changing all the time, and business owners need to be sure of their responsibilities. Even though the company felt they were handing responsibility over to the recruitment agency, ultimately the company themselves were responsible for the process of taking on new staff.

“It’s clear that there was some dispute over what was said and what offer was made, but employers need to take professional advice to ensure they don’t get caught out in the future.”