Unlawful Deduction of Wages: Mr Haq v Irfan Qadir

Caragh Bailey
15/02/2021
12
9 min read
unlawful deduction of wages from employment law friend

Case Ref:
4121115/2018
Case Name:
Mr A Haq v Irfan Qadir t/a Natural Balance
Relates to:
Unlawful Deduction of Wages & Unfair Dismissal
Decision:
Both claims succeed (Click to read details)
Award:
£2417.48

Mr Haq worked for a health food shop in Glasgow, he was a trusted and valued employee. After many years of happy employment, it was understood that he would buy the business, due to his employer, Mr Mian's, ill health.

It all turned sour after Mr. Mian sold the business to his nephew Mr Irfan Qadir, instead.

Mr Haq was kept on as an employee, losing some benefits. The working relationship broke down, the claimant stormed out of the premises - with property that his employer claims was stolen - and it ended with a drawn-out and unfair dismissal. The following claims were brought to the tribunal:

Unfair Dismissal
Unlawful Deduction of Wages
Including:
Including:
  • Unlawful deduction of salary
  • Unlawful deduction of holiday pay
  • Unlawful deduction of pension contributions

Mr Haq won most of his claims despite behaviour that could amount to gross misconduct, but, had his unfair dismissal basic award cut to nil, because of it.


This case shows how complex and multifaceted employment claims can be, as well as how winning your claim does not necessarily mean you'll get the compensation that you're looking for. Whilst you may win, you may lose. We break it down below.

Unlawful deduction of wages: Mr Haq's case

on 16th May Mr Haq arrived at work two hours later than expected. He went upstairs to an office room and when asked to come and cover the shop floor, he refused. He collected a number of items he said were his personal belongings and took a photo of them, to send to Mr. Irfan, after Mrs Irfan accused him of theft. Mrs Irfan retreated upstairs because of his aggressive behaviour. After a short while, he left.

Mr Haq had an understanding with his employers that he carried out a private practice, advising customers regarding health supplements. He was allowed to buy stock from his employers for this purpose at a 20% discount.

Mrs. Irfan, his employer's wife, who was working in the shop at the time, was afraid of him and suspected him of criticizing her husbands business to his customers. She claims that he had been angry and aggressive and that he stole stock to sell under his own business, as well as CCTV tapes and the notebook in which the records of the products which he had bought and what he still owed for it. Mr. Haq denies this. Mr Mian confirmed that Mr Haq admitted to removing the tapes during a subsequent phone call.

After the incident
Mr Irfan told his wife to call the police. She reported bullying and theft of the CCTV cassettes. Later, when the police questioned Mr Haq, he again denied taking the cassettes and texted Mr Mian “Thanks for phoning querying about the USB stick and some old VHS cassettes, there was some misunderstanding, I don’t have any of them. Please let Mr Irfan know thanks.”

A day before Mr Haq sent this message, Mr Irfan had sent him a message, stating “I have informed police about you, don’t dare to enter the shop again.”
Mr Haq responded, saying that he was confused and asking what was wrong. Mr Irfan told the employment tribunal he had blocked the claimant at this time, but later messages show both read and received receipts on Mr Haq's messages to both Mr & Mrs Irfan. From the 16th May to the 23rd of July, Mr Haq received no communication from his employer, despite several requests for payslips, wages and his contract of employment, which he had also requested before the incident.

Mr Irfan had sent two letters to Mr Haq in this time, both sent to the wrong address. The first, dated 30th May, inviting him to a disciplinary meeting on the 6th or 9th of June. The second, dated 20th June, stating that his dismissal was agreed in a meeting on the 9th of June, on grounds of abusive and bullying behaviour and theft, affective 14th of June. The second letter also requested Mr Haq pay his employer £2752.36. The tribunal understood this to be the amount that the Irfans believed they were owed for the 'stolen' items. Neither of these letters reached Mr Haq and both were returned to sender.

Finally on the 23rd June Mr Haq emailed Mr Irfan. His communications so far had been via Whatsapp and text message, which was their normal means of communication. This email again states that he has not returned to work since Mr Irfan's text message of the 16th May, telling him not to enter the shop. It also states that he has received no communication since then and requests: "My PAYSLIPS for the months of MAY & JUNE, MY WAGES FOR THE MONTHS OF MAY AND JUNE. My employment contract."
Mr Irfan emailed him the two letters which had been returned.

Unlawful deduction of wages: The verdict
There are many issues with the evidence in this case including that it appears both the respondent and the claimant attempted to blackmail the other party during proceedings. The Judge did not find that this was sufficient to throw out the case. The decisions are as follows:

Salary

Mr Haq argued that by removing his personal items from the shop, he was not indicating that he was leaving employment. Both parties agreed that his employment ended on the 26th July. He was awarded his usual salary up until this date for unlawful deduction of wages, despite not having working at all in the period from the 16th May to the 26th July.

Holiday pay

Mr Haq wanted holiday pay for a trip he took in April. The tribunal found that he had been paid his usual salary that month and had not accrued any further holiday entitlement. The Tribunal found that Mr Mian had paid Mr Haq all outstanding holiday pay for the time prior to the selling of the business. This unlawful deduction of wages claim failed.

No written statement of particulars

Mr Haq requested his contract of employment several times and never received one. The Judge awarded him two week's pay in compensation.

Pension contributions

Neither Mr Mian nor Mr Irfan had made any pension contributions to Mr Haq. The Tribunal found that Mr Haq had not opted out of any pension scheme since auto-enrolment began in April 2017. While most of Mr Mian's obligations transferred to Mr Irfan when he bought the business, Tupe regulations exclude pension schemes. Mr Haq was awarded a 3% contribution based on the past 6 months' wages. Mr Haq was told that he is free to claim unlawful deduction of wages against Mr Mian for the pension contributions he was responsible for before the sale of the business.

Unfair dismissal

The reason for Mr Haq's dismissal was fair. However, it was unfair due to Mr Irfan's failure to carry out a proper investigation and procedurally unfair because he was dismissed without a meeting.

His basic award was calculated at £3756.80. The Judge reduced this award to nil because it was 'just and equitable to do so' given Mr Haq's behaviour on the 16th May which contributed to his own dismissal.

Mr Haq received no compensatory award because he had begun work in his new business before the date of dismissal. The Judge found that it was clear that he intended to leave his employment at some point and any wage loss suffered was as a result of his decision to stop working for his employer and begin working for his own business. Additionally it was found that any wage loss would be covered by the income from Mr Haqs new business.

What can we learn from this case?

    1
    You might win your unfair dismissal case, but win no monetary award if you have contributed to your own dismissal
    2
    You might win unlawful deduction of wages for the time until your effective dismissal, even if you do no work in this time. (If you are paid by salary as opposed to an hourly or daily wage).


Frequently Asked Questions
Your employer cannot take deductions unless:
    A
    They are required or allowed by law (NI, tax, student loan repayments)
    B
    You have consented to the deductions in writing
You can claim for a series of deductions going back as far as two years from the date you make your claim.

Do you have a case of unlawful deduction of wages?
There is much more to winning your case than simply being in the right, our specialist employment solicitors know all the laws and tactics, to make sure you get the best chance at a fair settlement. Get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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