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Security guard launches legal action claiming he was dismissed for raising complaint

A security guard has started an Employment Tribunal claim after his employer deprived him of basic rights including national minimum wage and holiday pay.

Posted on 06 August 2020

Mr Shepherd was engaged as a security guard for Harriss Property Limited in October 2018. Harriss did not provide him with a written contract when he started working for them. 

Mr Shepherd’s job involved long 12-hour night shifts for 4 days a week, guarding both a resident building and construction site. The work involved long periods on his feet patrolling the construction site, as well as monitoring the CCTV for intruders and interacting with the residents in the resident building. He was not given a break by Harriss during these shifts. He wore a Harriss uniform, used equipment issued to him by the company, and did not work for anyone else.

However, despite the long hours, significant demands of the job and integration into the business, Harriss told Mr Shepherd that he was self-employed. They did not pay him holiday pay and he received pay under the national minimum wage.

In March 2020, Mr Shepherd raised a complaint about the fact that he was being paid under the minimum wage with his manager. He explained that he did not want to go down the court route, but that he was losing a lot of money. Around two weeks later, the same manager had a short telephone conversation with Mr Shepherd to inform him that Harriss no longer had any work for him. He is not aware of any other security guards having their work removed at the same time.

Rather than being self-employed, Mr Shepherd believes that he was a Harriss employee. He is bringing claims for automatic unfair dismissal and detriment, as well as for losses in unpaid holiday pay and national minimum wage. He has also raised a complaint about Harriss’s failure to provide him with a written contract.

Leigh Day solicitors believe that other security guards engaged on a “self-employed” arrangement in the UK may be entitled to claim back losses in unpaid holiday and national minimum wage.

Gabriel Morrison, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: 

“In recent years, there have been multiple legal challenges against companies for the failure to provide their workers with basic employment rights, particularly in the logistics and private hire sectors. In those cases, the claimants have regularly shown that their working arrangement was a scam and that they had been wrongly deprived of those rights for years. 

“We believe that this security guard case is no different: Mr Shepherd was the face of Harriss to residents, wearing Harriss uniform and using company equipment while working long and demanding shifts. To make matters worse, his work was then removed after he raised a complaint about his low pay. 

“It is only right that other security guards doing this type of taxing and hard work are afforded basic rights such as minimum wage, holiday pay and unfair dismissal protection by their employers”.