A home interiors company boss has been ordered to pay a kitchen fitter £2,400 in compensation and underpaid wages after telling him to “get your tools and get the f*** off site” in a heated phone call.
Published this week, the Employment Tribunal judgment against Ingrain Limited came despite protests that employee Nathan Monks had a poor attendance record, had used abusive language and damaged tools.
Mr Monks worked at the firm between February 2018 and March 2019.
Despite praising the kitchen fitter as a “very hard worker and a very quick learner”, firm owner Scott Stephens detailed how he frequently “arrived late and left early” and even missed entire days of work without notice.
On one occasion, Mr Monks reportedly missed one whole week of work without telling his boss. He was uncontactable throughout the entire period.
This, Mr Stephens said, had resulted in numerous verbal warnings that his job was under threat, particularly as it had caused “real problems” with contractors.
As a result of the ongoing absences, the firm was eventually forced to recruit a junior worker. “This emphasised to the Claimant that his job was at risk,” Hannah Westmacott, Deputy Chair of the Employment Tribunal, noted in her judgment.
Mr Monks was said to be “very apologetic for his absence”, with Mrs Westmacott noting that “he liked his job and wanted to keep it so he knew he had to improve.”
However, his attendance times remained “inconsistent”.
Mr Stephens claimed this displeased the contractors, while the kitchen fitter maintained it was his belief that work times could be flexible so long as the work was completed.
Against this background, Mr Stephens said there had been two further difficulties: that Mr Monks had lost his driving licence in summer 2018, making it “hard for him to move between sites or to take his tools to work”, and that one of the main contractors had banned Mr Monks from working on its sites, “which left limited projects for [him] to work on”.
But Mrs Westmacott said that these ongoing issues were not “sufficiently serious” for him to have been fired without notice.
The dismissal came in the context of a phone call on another matter, which Mr Monks took while he was on site.
The discussion became “very heated”, with Mr Stephens admitting he “became angry”, before telling Mr Monks that he had “had enough” and ordering him to “get your tools and get the f*** off site”.
Mr Monks called his mother, who advised him to visit the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service for help. Mr Stephens called back shortly after, but Mr Monks indicated that he did not wish to speak to him.
Aside from a brief text discussion regarding his hours on the last two days Mr Monks worked, the pair did not speak again until the beginning of proceedings through the Employment Tribunal.
The Tribunal found the words used over the phone to be “unambiguous”, with Mrs Westmacott noting: “It was clear the Respondent wanted the Claimant to leave the site immediately and take his tools with him.”
She added that Mr Stephens could have retracted his words when the pair were corresponding via text, but did not take the opportunity to do so.
Mr Monks was subsequently handed damages for wrongful dismissal without notice of £460.
Mrs Westmacott also concluded that Mr Monks had been underpaid over the course of his employment with Ingrain to the tune of £968.75, and that he was also owed outstanding annual leave pay (£520).
Ingrain Limited was also ordered to compensate Mr Monks for failing to provide a written statement of his employment terms (£184) and itemised pay slips (£276).
In total, the company was ordered to pay Mr Monks £2,408.75.
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