Charity must pay back £9k to former cleaner for wages gaffe

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A HARTLEPOOL charity must pay nearly £9,000 to a former cleaner who worked for nearly three years on less than minimum wage and repeatedly didn’t get paid.

A judge described the actions of Manor Residents’ Association, in the town, as “outrageous” as he ordered the charity to pay £8,805 to Linda Gooding at a tribunal.

The tribunal heart how Mrs Gooding, 56, worked 37 hours a week for the charity for just £5.40 an hour - under the national minimum wage of £6.19 per hour - and for the last seven weeks in the job received her wages either late or not at all.

She never once saw a contract of employment in her 32 months at the charity, from February 2010 to December last year, and the last payslip she received was in May 2010.

The “shambolic” actions led to Mrs Gooding walking away from the job on December 14 last year - just four days before she launched legal proceedings.

And she described her “huge relief” after being awarded the payout at Teesside Magistrates’ Court after successfully claiming against the charity for constructive dismissal.

Mrs Gooding, who lives in Forfar Road, in the town, with husband Kenny, 58, a joiner for Housing Hartlepool, also brought claims against the charity for breach of contract, unpaid holiday pay, failure to give written statements of employment and failure to give itemised pay statements.

Employment judge Andrew Buchanan ordered the charity, based in Kilmarnock Road, Hartlepool, to pay its former employee £3,395.92 compensation and £3,196.16 for a future lack of earnings, calculated over the next 16 weeks.

The charity must also pay £687.09 as a result of Mrs Gooding being paid less than the national minimum wage and a further £916.12 due to the fact Mrs Gooding was never given a written statement of employment. She will also receive £259.74 for the unnotified deductions and £350 for a loss of statutory rights.

Manor Residents’ Association had until March 7 to reply to the claims but the court didn’t receive a reply until the day later, resulting in the response being rejected.

The charity’s manager, town councillor Angie Wilcox, wasn’t at the tribunal and refused to comment.

Mrs Gooding has suffered with depression since finding herself out of work five months ago but has continued to apply for dozens of jobs without success.

She described her fear of never being able to find another job, but said: “I’m just so pleased justice has been done.

“Councillor Wilcox represents the area, she is supposed to be a pillar of society.

“It wasn’t long ago when she was campaigning against the bedroom tax saying how can people live on £2 a day, I wasn’t even getting that when I wasn’t getting paid, it was shambolic.”

Linda, who also has seven grandchildren, said it was in October last year when the problems started to arise with her weekly wages of £200 gross, minus a national insurance payment. When she walked away in December she was still owed money from the last seven weeks, which she has now received. She was never aware that her hourly wage was in fact way short of the national minimum wage.

The tribunal heard how the charity is funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, Greggs Foundation and local authority grants, and employs 32 people.

Judge Buchanan said: “It is outrageous that such an organisation is not fulfilling its legal obligations.

“I’m only aware of this one case. I hope it’s an isolated incident, but one is one too many.”