Heating engineer ‘was unfairly dismissed over travel dispute'
A heating engineer involved in a dispute with his employer over whether he should be paid for time spent travelling to jobs was unfairly dismissed.
That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in a case involving Thomas Holloway, who worked for Aura Gas from January 2015 until September 2019.
He worked 45 hours per week and was also required to travel to different locations to perform his role.
Initially the jobs were local. However, the distances began to increase, which sometimes saw him travelling up to six hours per day.
The extra travel time meant that Holloway’s working day became far longer than his contracted hours, but he received no extra money.
In October 2018, a colleague told him that the managing director Gary Robinson had changed the company’s unofficial travel rules so that employees would not be paid for the first or last hour of travel each day.
Holloway and Robinson exchanged a series of emails on the matter.
Robinson said: “Travel is definitely not included in your working day, and we do not pay you to travel unless over the hour.”
In June 2019, Robinson asked Aura Gas’ general manager Ian Morgan to investigate Holloway over several issues including refusing to complete his contractual hours, refusing reasonable requests relating to work tasks, falsifying time sheets and dragging out jobs.
Meanwhile, Holloway wrote to Martin Cornell, technical manager at Aura Gas with grievances including not being paid for “all the overtime”; that his pay reduced from 'double time to time and a half”; that he was “always given the job that involves the furthest distance”; and that he had been undermined by Robinson.
Morgan produced a report on the grievances which found that the company were acting in line with procedures in the contract that Holloway had signed.
The report said there was no evidence to suggest Robinson had been intimidating or undermining. Holloway’s complaints were rejected following a grievance hearing.
He resigned and brought a claim of unfair dismissal and breach of contract.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that Aura Gas had breached the contract due to Holloway’s unpaid wages, and constructively dismissed him over the issue.
The change to two hours per day unpaid travel time was never addressed to Mr Holloway’s satisfaction.
Judge Matthews said the unpaid travel time amounted to a “fundamental breach of the implied term of trust and confidence in Mr Holloway’s contract of employment with the company.”
Holloway was awarded £6,374 for unpaid overtime wages, £3,503 for unfair dismissal compensation and £2,058 for wrongful dismissal.
Please contact Faith Widdowson for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.
Heating engineer ‘was unfairly dismissed over travel dispute’
Mr T Holloway v Aura Gas Ltd