Constructively dismissed via a relocation attempt

Case Details

 This example is a theoretical case with details inspired by the past experience of our senior lawyers here at Monaco Solicitors. The names and exact circumstances are not real.

  • Client name: Bob Bracken
  • Job title: Head of Sales
  • Initial agreed fee: £300 upfront plus 15% inclusive of VAT on any uplift
  • Original settlement offer: £18,000: consisting of 3 months’ notice pay (£12,000) plus an ex gratia sum equivalent to 1 months’ salary (£6,000)
  • Final settlement agreement amount: £30,000: consisting of the 3 months’ notice pay (£12,000), plus an ex gratia sum equivalent to 3 months’ salary (£18,000)

Hear from the client and our lawyer

What the client said:

Below is a rough timeline of events composed by the client:

 

Rough timeline of events as promised, starting from the day I joined the company:

 

Sept 2015 – Joined [Company 1] as Buying Manager on [Company 2] – Location Salford

 

March 2016 – Temporarily became Head of Buying for Commercial Business Unit

 

Jan 2017 – Appointed Permanent Head of Buying Commercial Business Unit – Location Manchester

 

Nov 2017 – New CEO arrives and issues profit warnings

 

Dec 2017 – [Programme] is launched across the business aimed at reducing costs and restructuring the business, Buying would become a Group Function as part of the programme

 

March 2018 – I discussed the project with the [Buying Director] and volunteered to become the “transformation lead” for the buying element of the project, which was then put forward as a suggestion to senior stakeholders as part of some other functional short term improvements, it was agreed with the [Buying Director] that I would be able to continue my current location of work and we would carry out some of the project activity in Manchester

 

March 2018 – [Programme] Lead for the project was then announced as [Manager] who held a number of kick off meetings

 

Early April 2018 – After several further meetings the [Buying Director] put me forward to become Head of Buying Transformation to the [Manager], with Project Management Support agreed.  I had a brief interview with the [Manager].  He asked me to table any concerns about the role at which point I mentioned that travelling to Birmingham every day was not possible due to my young family and my wife due back at work in early May.  I also at that point wrote to [Manager] and asked for objectives for the role to be agreed and linked to an incentive scheme.

 

I never received any formal objectives, job description, and I started to receive actions from the project manager to be completed.

 

End of April 2018 – My change in role was finally communicated to the business and I passed over responsibilities for managing the majority of my team.

 

[Manager] returned from a weeks leave and was not happy with progress on the project,  after several difficult meetings with the teams he questioned my ability to do the role, we discussed my family commitments again.  I confirmed in writing I still wanted to do the Transformation role but required a clear remit and objectives.

 

May 2018 – [Buying Director] left the business suddenly.  The day after the HR Director contacted key members of the Buying team to catch up.  At this point I voiced my concerns about workload, the project, and my family circumstances.  Later that day I spoke to the [Manager] who offered me a choice of 3 options, leave the business and come to an arrangement, continue to do the transformation role, or a slightly different role.  In that meeting I indicated I did not want to commit to the Midlands long term due to my family commitments and could potentially work on some other areas of the project for a short period of time and leave at the end of July subject to agreeing an exit arrangement.

 

12th May – I indicated to the [Manager] that I did not see a future for me at [Company 1] as I could not commit to Birmingham and was willing to stay for a few months and close some projects out if we could come to an arrangement, on the 13th May he advised I would receive contact from HR and they would have a discussion about an exit agreement, stating that the first £30k was tax free (leading me to believe it was over £30k)

 

15th May – I had the opening discussion with HR where he offered me 3 months PILON = £12k after tax, and £5.7k ex gratia payment (4 weeks pay).  I advised I was disappointed and was expecting more.  He asked me to think about and get back to him, I said I would make some phonecalls.
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Lawyers initial thoughts:

Below is the letter crafted by our lawyer and addressed from the client:

I write further to our meeting of [x] date, whereby I was offered a settlement agreement

amounting to PILON, being £12,000 after tax, plus one month’s salary ex gratia of £5,700. I thought it would be helpful to set out the relevant events leading up to this point:

 

Sept 2015 – Joined [Company 1] as Buying Manager on [Company 2] – Location Salford

 

March 2016 – Temporarily became Head of Buying for Commercial Business Unit

 

Jan 2017 – Appointed as Permanent Head of Buying Commercial Business Unit – Location Manchester

 

Nov 2017 – New CEO arrives and issues profit warnings

 

Dec 2017 – [Programme] is launched across the business aimed at reducing costs and restructuring the business, Buying would become a Group Function as part of the programme

 

March 2018 – I discussed the project with the [Buying Director] and volunteered to become the “transformation lead” for the Buying element of the project, which was then put forward as a suggestion to senior stakeholders as part of some other functional short term improvements.

 

Crucially, it was agreed with the [Buying Director] that I would be able to continue my current location of work and we would carry out some of the project activity in Manchester.

 

March 2018 – [Programme] Lead for the project was then announced as [Manager] who held a number of kick off meetings.

 

Early April 2018 – After several further meetings the [Buying Director] put me forward to become Head of Procurement Transformation to [Manager], with Project Management Support agreed.  

 

I had a brief interview with the [Manager].  He asked me to table any concerns about the role at which point I made it clear that travelling to Birmingham every day was not possible due to my young family and my wife due back at work in early May.

 

I also at that point wrote to the [Manager] and asked for objectives for the role to be agreed and linked to an incentive scheme. I didn’t receive any formal objectives, job description, and I started to receive actions from the project manager to be completed.

 

End of April 2018 – My change in role was communicated to the business and I passed over responsibilities for managing the majority of my team.

 

[Manager] returned from a week’s leave and was not happy with progress on the project,  after several difficult meetings with the teams he questioned my ability to do the role, we discussed my family commitments again.  I confirmed in writing I still wanted to do the Transformation role but required a clear remit and objectives.

 

May 2018 – [Buying Director] left the business suddenly.  The following day, the HR Director contacted key members of the Buying team to catch up.  At this point I voiced my concerns about workload, the project, and my family circumstances.

 

Later that day – I spoke to the [Manager] who offered me a choice of 3 options, leave the business and come to an arrangement, continue to do the transformation role, or a slightly different role.  

 

In that meeting I pointed out that I could not work in Birmingham due to my family commitments and could potentially work on some other areas of the project for a short period of time and leave at the end of July subject to agreeing an exit arrangement.

 

12th May – I indicated to the [Manager] that I was willing to stay for a few months and close some projects out and do a handover if we could come to an arrangement.

 

13th May -[Manager] advised I would receive contact from HR and they would have a discussion about an exit agreement, stating that the first £30k was tax free (leading me to believe that it was over £30k)

 

15th May – I had the opening discussion with HR where he offered me 3 months PILON = £12k after tax, and £5.7k ex gratia payment (4 weeks pay).  I advised I was disappointed and was expecting more. He asked me to think about and get back to him, I said I would make some phone calls.

 

As far as I am concerned my meeting with the [Manager] constituted a binding contractual agreement for a new role whereby it was expressly agreed that I would be based in Manchester. Therefore, the company’s demand that I travel to Birmingham for the foreseeable future is outwith the boundaries of my contract.

 

It is also objectively unreasonable as Birmingham is two hours’ drive from Manchester, which is not a proportionate amount of time to travel daily. The company’s insistence that I either travel such distances daily or leave the business also goes to the question of trust and confidence.

 

There is no reason why I cannot manage the majority of my duties in Birmingham remotely, yet this possibility has not been considered. I am quite willing to travel there for say 2 days per week as long as the company reimburses my travel.

 

I am now in a position whereby I am having to go back out onto the jobs market at a time when there are not many opportunities available, and this could have been avoided by better planning on behalf of the company.

 

In order to bring the matter to a swift conclusion, I would be prepared to accept an offer amounting to £30,000 after tax, equivalent to an increase of £12,000 on the ex gratia amount. So this would include PILON plus £18,000.

 

This offer will remain open until COB on 23 May 2018 after which point it should be considered withdrawn without further notice.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely

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Chronology of case actions

See notes & video above


Final outcome

An increase of £12,000 was achieved.

 

Lawyers Analysis:

This was a quick case whereby only one email was written to the other side and we quickly achieved a £12,000 uplift with the minimum of fuss. It’s a lot of money but more importantly the stress was minimal.

Clients Reaction:

Thank you so much Monaco Solicitors, really happy the with result!


Next steps

If you want to talk to us about your work situation, including your next steps and whether you deserve a better deal, just get in touch on 020 7717 5259 or request a free consultation, no obligation.