Francis had been a care home manager for less than a year. Twice, her salary was not paid on time, on the second occasion causing her to be off work because she could not pay her childcare costs.
She telephoned her line manager to explain this but on her return (following payment) the company denied having received her explanation for her absence. She was also accused later of having failed to follow an instruction to discipline one member of staff.
Francis was then dismissed for a failure to follow absence procedures and also for her failure to follow the instruction. Her internal appeal against the decision to dismiss was unsuccessful so she complained of unfair dismissal on the grounds that she was dismissed for asserting a ‘relevant statutory right’ – her right to be paid the wages due to her.
The tribunal upheld her complaint, a decision which the company appealed on the basis that there is no right to be paid on time.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) rejected the company’s argument. Where an employee is not paid any of their salary on time, it concluded, that failure by an employer does constitute breach of a relevant statutory right.
The EAT commented that it would be odd if a small underpayment of wages constituted a ‘deduction from wages’ under the Employment Rights Act 1996, but a failure to pay an employee the whole amount due did not.