Farm Worker’s Working Time Case Settles at Employment Tribunal

We have today concluded proceedings brought in the Ashford Employment Tribunal on behalf of a young farm worker from Canterbury who claimed he had been forced to work excessive hours, denied minimum pay under the Agricultural Workers’ Order and ultimately sacked, unfairly, on 28th December last year by his employers, a local farming family.

Our client first began working at the farm on a casual basis whilst still at school before progressing to full time working.

He received no contract of employment, however, wage slips were provided irregularly and he was made to work long hours, averaging just under 55 a week, whilst being paid below the applicable AWO rate for just 35 hours.

He was subjected to detriment when he raised health and safety issues and was ultimately dismissed amidst a torrent of abuse.

He was referred to us by the CAB in Canterbury and a grievance and Tribunal proceedings were lodged subsequently alleging no fewer than 12 separate breaches of statutory employment rights.

The allegations were denied by the employer who fully contested the case which was listed for hearing over 2 days at Ashford starting today.

Settlement was reached, however, at Tribunal, on terms whereby the client (who had managed to secure fresh employment with another farm locally by the time of the hearing), is to receive £15,000 in compensation.

Nick Fairweather, who had conduct of the matter, commented:-

“Too often the agricultural environment is one associated with long hours, low pay and few rights for employees.  In fact, the law gives good protection and we are proud of this young client who had the courage to take on his employers through the Tribunal system.  The case is also a good example of Community Legal Services co-working between ourselves and the CAB. It was they who first recognised a case that could be taken forward here. As is so often the case, things have worked out well in the end as the client now has fresh employment with responsible employers locally.  We wish him all the very best for the future.”