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Can we keep 2 weeks wages as security?

We are a small business just about a year old. We have problems with some staff leaving without our stipulated 2 weeks notice .  Our salaries are not the most lucrative around but they are fair. Staff are fully aware of the salary when they apply and accept the job.

Can we legally include in the contract that we will be holding two weeks wages as security, so that they lose it if they leave without the notice?

It sounds harsh, so are there any alternatives?

Appreciate all the answers, as our accountant is not sure either.



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19th Jul 2010 12:10


Short answer - NO.

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19th Jul 2010 12:47

Payment in arrears

Surely payment can legally be made two weeks in arrears (provided its clear in the t&c, and you may not be able to apply it to existing staff)?

Though as previously noted, this doesn't the problem of people leaving without notice, as they are still entitled to pay for the weeks they did work.However it may help if, for instance, they have taken more holiday than they are entitled to, or fail to return company property etc.





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19th Jul 2010 15:01


The problem with the legislation is that it is all geared towards the employee. If the employee leaves with insufficient notice the employer has to prove a cost and can claim for damages through the courts. The cost of this course of action is usually way in excess of that which could be recovered.

An alternative is for the employer to see it as a bonus - the employee is effectively losing two weeks holiday entitlement, so in the long run the employer is winning. (holiday entitlement runs to the last day paid, so leaving two weeks earlier is good for the employer)

Alternatively, look at your recruitment practises and salary levels. If you are currently employing unsatisfactory staff, maybe the problem should be sorted at that stage. Better vetting of candidates, paying more for better qualified individuals etc, could prove more bvaluable than getting upset that the odd employee is leaving very quickly.

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19th Jul 2010 16:26

The cause of all the problems is very clear...

"Can we keep 2 weeks wages as security?"

"We have problems with some staff leaving without our stipulated 2 weeks notice."

"Staff are fully aware of the salary when they apply and accept the job."

are there any alternatives?....

Yes, there are alternatives. Properly train and support staff,  work with them, encourage them and respect them, earn their respect, protect their rights, pay them a decent wage. A decent wage is not around minimum wage. 

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19th Jul 2010 18:00

It's very early to be having staff troubles

If the business is only a year old, and already you are having problems with staff walking out, then it would appear that the problem is with the employer, not the employees.

We keep staff for decades - we very rarely lose staff except to retirement or illness.  Why?  Because we don't treat them as "staff", we pay well, and we make them part of our company "family".  Its very simple, if they cant earn as much elsewhere, and can't get better conditions elsewhere, and you give them the best possible life/work balance then why would they want to leave?


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19th Jul 2010 18:21


As a fairly new business I guess you cannot afford to pay top wages/salaries, but you describe them as fair so I assume you pay above minimum wage.

It can be tough to know what you are getting when you interview people, not everyone is honest at interviews. You will get better as you gain more experience, but even expert interviewers can get it wrong at times.

As you say 'some' staff I assume you have others that have stayed. Have you managed to get any feedback from the ones that have left, or even the ones that stayed? People may talk to colleagues where they won't speak to their 'boss'. If you find the problem is the job, you can put that right. If you chose the wrong people, you can put that right. Stick at it and try to find the cause.

You may just have been unlucky, unfortunately there are a lot of people who want the money, but don't really want to work for it.

I would pay in arrears, and with new starters do not pay holiday pay above their earned entitlement for the first few months. Obviously, this has to be in their contract of employment, and I am no expert, so get advice from ACAS or similar.

Good luck!

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21st Jul 2010 14:27

Can we keep 2 weeks wages as security?

Depends if the buggers take any of my clients with them

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