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Unlawful deductions from wages may not seem a strong enough phrase to describe one case in which an employee was not paid anything at all for seven years’ work. Employment law is well equipped to put right such injustices, however, and the woman was awarded £182,000 to compensate her for her unremunerated toil.
Following her resignation, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that the woman had been employed without pay by a businessman throughout the seven-year period and upheld her claim in respect of unlawful deductions from wages. The award was based on a calculation of the gross salary she should have received.
The employer challenged the award on the basis that it should have reflected the net sum that would have been due to the woman after deduction of Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions. In rejecting the appeal, however, the Employment Appeal Tribunal noted that it had been the employer’s responsibility to make such deductions at source, through the PAYE system.
The ET could not be expected to carry out the complex tax calculations involved and it was for the employer to settle the matter with HM Revenue and Customs. The appeal had been entirely unnecessary and had been pursued by the employer as a means of further delaying payment of sums due to the woman. In the circumstances, he was ordered to pay the legal costs of the appeal.