Wednesday, 7 May 2014

"Wanting to be sacked to look after seriously ill partner" -

Here is a situation I dealt with last week:

A driver for a major company had been off work with Cancer for ten months, and was about to return to work.

Heartbreakingly, his wife has now become seriously ill, with a long-term condition.  All he wanted was for his boss to sack him so he could look after his wife. He's been to see him and virtually begged to be sacked.

Being sacked would mean he could claim benefits such as carers allowance and income support straight away.

But no.  The employer was not prepared to carry out this "mercy sacking".   For legal reasons, it was best for the employer that our member resigned.

When the Unite member rang me for advice, his question was "How do I best word my letter of resignation?"

I advised he should not resign, as doing so would give him problems claiming benefits, possibly for upto 26 weeks.  "But they won't sack me!", he protested. "I just want to start the next chapter of my life and get on with it.  I can't wait for them to sack me, it could take months."

And he was right.  A chat with the boss confirmed that they had no intention of dismissal anytime soon.

After making some phone calls, I persuaded the employer to sign a "COT3" agreement, drafted by ACAS.  Not many people have heard of these agreements. They are free, and can be extremely useful.

Basically, what has now happened is that the Unite member has been dismissed (without the unpleasantness of a meeting) but has waived his right to take the employer to a Tribunal.

In addition, we've sorted it that this man is paid his holiday and other contractual pay as a tax-free lump sum.  In this case, this has provided the driver with a final payment around £700 higher than he would have got if he had resigned.   With proof of having been dismissed, he should have no difficulty in claiming benefits straight away.  I don't know how much in benefits this man will be able to claim during the next 26 weeks, but it will be a lot more than if he had resigned and wasn't allowed to claim at all!

The Unite member is now absolutely delighted to have such a huge weight lifted from him.

The law can be harsh and cruel to workers who resign employment with a perfectly good reason. In my experience, workers seldom resign without one. In this instance,  without support from his Union, there would have been absolutely no chance of finding this sensible solution.