Told to work in another office location than was agreed
A trainee solicitor who brought a claim against the law firm he was due to start his training contract has been awarded four weeks’ pay.
Mr A Osvald claimed breach of contract in the employment tribunal by Holden & Co when told he’d be required to work at different offices days before his training contract was to begin.
Osvald completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in 2013, but put the prospect of a legal career on hold as he was his family’s primary child carer. He applied for a training contract at Holden and Co in 2021 and met with the firm’s managing partner to discuss the role, including his need for flexibility, office location, child pick-up arrangements and the possibility of the firm paying for a parking space close to the firm’s Hastings office.
Employment Judge McLaren said that this discussion “set out the parameters for a working relationship” which the partner then took forward in a subsequent email offering Osvald part-time employment for the annual salary of £22,000.
Osvald received the final contract four days in advance of his start date. Upon reading it, he raised several issues relating to terms about the location and working hours which he believed had changed from their initial agreement, stressing that he could only work in the firm’s Hastings office due to childcare commitments.
The partner responded that it was essential that Osvald could be required to work at the firm’s Ashford office and that he could not agree to all of his amendments.
In her ruling, Judge McLaren rejected Holden & Co’s contention that the initial meeting was just “exploratory”, explaining that a contract had been offered and accepted based on Osvald and the partner’s meeting and subsequent email chain.
The contract’s subsequent amendment that required Osvald to go to Ashford therefore amounted to a breach of contract, the judge found.
A remedy judgment awarded Osvald four weeks’ pay equalling £1,354.