A London estate agency has been ordered by a court to pay £3,600 to a recruitment firm after a dispute over an agency employee who reportedly took time off to visit her sick father in hospital.
The Ham & High newspaper reports that Olivers Town estate agency - which handles sales, lettings and property management in the Hampstead, Primrose Hill and Kentish Town areas of London - was ordered to pay back £3,600 worth of recruitment fees to JR Recruitment.
Oliver McHugh, the agency’s managing director, told the court he was not prepared to pay the fees because he was dissatisfied with the employee for taking time off and being “preoccupied” about her father’s ill health.
The newspaper says his submission to the court said: “She took several days off from the June 5 as holiday and then June 16, 17, 18, 19 as her father was taken ill. She mentioned she did not know when she would return to work until she knew the situation regarding her father.”
McHugh went on: “She attended the office on June 29, however, throughout the week it was obvious to myself and her colleagues she was naturally preoccupied as to her father’s health, and as such was unable to fulfil her employment duties.”
McHugh also claimed that JR Recruitment had pressured the employee to go back to work in a ploy to ensure it would not lose its recruitment fees.
The newspaper reports that James Richmond, managing director of JR Recruitment, denied pressuring the agency’s employee and said he made multiple attempts to collect the fee, and even included a discount before going ahead with legal proceedings.
Richmond’s written statement to the court said: “Mr McHugh mentions he contacted me to update me on the situation with the employee... going on to say that James had been in contact to persuade her to go back and a verbal agreement was made to extend the probation period. This is not true.”
The agency is reported to have paid the money immediately following the court decision. However, the newspaper says the recruitment firm chief’s car - parked near Edmonton County Court, where the hearing was held - was scratched by a key across four panels.
Police arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage.