LAW6006: Spotless Cleaning Solutions Ltd is a contract cleaning company which has enjoyed fast growth over recent years: Employment Law Assignment, AU, UK

University Arden University (AU)
Subject LAW6006: Employment Law

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Explain the core principles that underpin employment law as it applies in the UK (or Ireland), including common-law, their purpose, origin and practical implications.
  2. Advise colleagues about significant legal implications of decisions, plans or proposals in the employment
  3. Advice about the appropriate action that should be taken in workplace scenarios where employment regulation
  4. Play a leading role in determining the appropriate organisational response when legal action on the part of a worker or employee is anticipated, threatened or taken.

Assessment brief

Spotless Cleaning Solutions Ltd is a contract cleaning company which has enjoyed fast growth over recent years. The company was founded in 2006 by two sisters called Joan and Margery Mopp. They started with three clients and a team of eleven cleaning staff. The company has grown organically since then, steadily winning new contracts, retaining existing ones and employing a few more people each month. By 2011 Spotless employed several hundred cleaners and a team of 35 managers, sales staff and administrators in their head office. In the Spring Joan and Margery decided to retire, selling their company to an entrepreneur called Dave Hose-Cuff.

Dave has plans to grow the company at a much faster rate by acquiring smaller companies and merging them with Spotless while also continuing the strategy of organic expansion.

Since his arrival, Dave has been impressed with most aspects of the Spotless operation, but he is not happy with the way the ten-strong sales team operates. He thinks that the operation lacks coherence, that the staff do not support one another as much as they could and that there is an insufficient drive, enthusiasm and hunger to attract new business. He has therefore fired the existing Sales Director and hired a more dynamic figure in the form of Fran Overshoe. She has extensive sales experience and has been highly successful in previous roles but has not managed a team before and is unfamiliar with the contract cleaning industry.

Soon after starting Fran decided that team-building must be her first priority, and to that end she and Dave Hose-Cuff agreed that the sales team should all be taken away for three days to stay at a country hotel where they will undertake a variety of outdoor team-building tasks designed to help them work better together and raise their level of enthusiasm. The trip will require staff to stay away from home for two nights and to engage in a variety of challenges including abseiling, orienteering and building a raft to get their group from one side of a river to the other. Fran’s partner, a former RAF officer, will be employed to run the training event.

When this plan was announced, most staff in the Spotless sales team responded apathetically. Fran Overshoe stated that everyone must attend, that no excuses would be accepted but that overtime would be paid to all to cover any additional hours that staff spent over and above their usual working day on the programme or travelling to and from the location. While some looked forward to the course, others agreed to come because they felt they had no alternative. A third group, comprising four staff came up with different reasons for not attending and asked Fran and Dave to be excused. The reasons given were as follows:

  • Two female members of the sales team said that they could not attend because they were single parents with responsibility for young children. Their childcare responsibilities meant that they could not spend time away from home at such short notice.
  • A senior salesman called Richard Buff asked to be excused from attending on the grounds that his ex-girlfriend was due to give birth to their baby that week and that he was intending to take a period of paternity leave at the time of the training
  • A recent recruit called Yasmin Fogger stated that she was not prepared to attend because the last time she went on a similar programme some years ago, triggered a relapse of a long-term mental condition and led to a period of stress-induced absence lasting eight months.

These requests not to attend the outdoor team development event were turned down by Fran and Dave. They took the view that everyone’s attendance was vital for the future success of the sales team and that if they were to assent to one request then they would have to agree to all, and this would undermine the whole event.

Two days before the planned start of the outdoor development event Fran receives a formal letter signed by Richard Buff, Yasmin Fogger and the two women with childcare issues. This states that they are all withdrawing, with immediate effect, from the opt-out agreements they signed on appointment allowing the company to require them to work in excess of 48 hours a week. The letter states that in requiring them to attend the three-day outdoor development training course, later that week, their total working hours will exceed 48. For this reason they are not prepared to attend. Fran and Dave decide to reject this demand too. They reply stating that all four staff must attend the outdoor programme and will be subject to disciplinary proceedings if they do not.

The training course goes ahead as planned. All staff attend and find, to their surprise, that they enjoy the experience. It seems that the aim of building the team and its enthusiasm is being met. However, on the final afternoon, an accident occurs which has the opposite effect. During the final orienteering exercise Yasmin Fogger, while running down a steep slope, trips over and falls several feet. She sustains serious head injuries and a broken arm. As a result, she is now in hospital and is not expected to be able to return to work for several months.

  1. What possible legal claims might Spotless Cleaning Solutions now find itself facing?
  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each case? What further information would you need to know in order to give accurate advice?
  3. If you were asked to advise the company, which cases would you recommend were settled and which should be contested?

Prepare your 3000-word (+/- 10%) briefing paper. You should make reference to relevant academic research when justifying your key points.

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