A health clinic boss is accused of throwing an employee’s timesheet in the bin and saying she should “be grateful for the hours he was willing to pay”, a tribunal heard.
Christian Farthing is said to have breached an employment contract and failed to pay a former worker’s wages after sacking her from his practice near Canterbury.
But the ‘wellness practitioner’ told an employment tribunal this month that Eglė Dačkauskaitė was paid correctly during her spell at his Blean-based BodyWell clinic and her calculations were wrong.
The former Canterbury city councillor argued she misunderstood her wage amount during her spell from November 2022 to March 2023 and failed to "understand clear instructions”.
But Farthing was previously found liable for £500 of disputed notice pay at a previous hearing and, on November 3, also admitted unlawfully charging her for training and uniform costs.
Ms Dačkauskaitė told the most recent hearing in Croydon: “He offered me a position straight away. I took holiday and spent my own money to travel to Canterbury to do the training.
“I filled in more than 10 timesheets at his request and then he took them from me. The thing is, he could do with those timesheets what he wanted.
“I signed them because I was confused. I was crying when he took the papers from me and crossed out the hours and told me to fill them out again. I definitely worked more hours than he said.”
She continued: “He took those papers and crossed the hours out, then he told me I should be grateful for the hours he was willing to pay me and at the rate we never agreed to.
“I left all of my life in London. I left my life to move to Canterbury for this job.
“I was there almost every morning at 6am and I was working 12 hours every single day. I never agree to teach myself for free.”
Ms Dačkauskaitė told Judge Victoria Wright that, during her training period, Farthing heaped on “more texts I needed to learn” each day.
Representing herself, she argued her official start date was never formally agreed, while “every day it was pushed back and pushed back”.
“He can’t treat people like that,” she continued.
“ A lot of my colleagues were also affected emotionally. We were manipulated by him and it really affected my confidence in myself.
“Every single time he’d say you can’t do this, even as I tried hard to learn. The fact is he just wasn’t willing to pay for my work.”
The judge heard Ms Dačkauskaitė was employed at the centre, which provides chiropractic care and colonic therapy, in November last year. However, she was let go after less than three months.
In March 2023 she began the claim through the tribunal service, alleging her former employer was responsible for breach of contract and failure to pay wages.
At a hearing during the summer The Wellness Practice, for which Christian Farthing is listed as director, was found liable for £500 of disputed notice pay.
On Friday, November 3, Farthing, of Whitstable Road in Blean, promised to immediately reimburse Miss Dačkauskaitė for training and uniform costs he had unlawfully charged her.
But he vehemently denied claims his firm failed to pay her all the hours she worked and that it was responsible for her DBS check fees.
Miss Dačkauskaitė argued it was only after she moved to Canterbury that Mr Farthing said he would require her to undergo extensive training and, during this time, would pay only a reduced hourly rate.
She told the court Farthing originally promised £11.11 an hour. However, he dropped the wage to £9.50 until she completed training.
Ms Dačkauskaitė also claimed she was forced to rote-learn long chiropractic tracts, which she feared if she was unable to do she would not be paid.
And she argued while putting in extra hours to learn the required material, Farthing repeatedly pushed back the end of her training period and the date she could earn the full wage.
The court heard the period of learning was finally deemed complete on December 10 last year and, despite recording 33.5 hours of work, she was only paid for 27.
She said another six hours’ pay was also missing from her next pay slip.
The remotely-held tribunal heard the firm arranged several meetings with Ms Dačkauskaitė to discuss her grievances and challenges.
But despite Farthing and colleagues Angela Onions and Luke Watkins telling the court the meetings took place, Ms Dačkauskaitė claimed they never happened.
The Wellness Practice, which operates the BodyWell clinic, said it made the details of the training period and the wage Miss Dačkauskaitė would be paid clear during the interview process.
Giving evidence, Farthing said: “It was clearly set out that she would be paid for the time we agreed. The induction and training procedures clearly outline it and it was also discussed in the interview process.
“It has become clear to me now that the claimant doesn’t necessarily understand clear instructions and even still today it seems that is still the case. I don’t know how better we could have communicated. She said herself we had discussions – these were the meetings.
“If the claimant is unable to do something then they would just be standing around doing nothing. We are a small team and if she can’t do something then what are we paying for? As a small business, I find that very difficult.
“We made it clear what the expectations were for what she would need to know before she could start. It's important that the training gets done when you are a healthcare company and you are dealing with members of the public.
“You need them to have the learning because it is patient safety and those patients are paying for their care.”
He continued: “We know how long it takes for staff to learn things and now it's become clear she wasn’t grasping certain things.
“On the uniform and training fees I have no problem conceding them. I would never intentionally breach national minimum wage. We are a small business, we care about our reputation and we don’t take advantage of anybody. I hold my hands up.”
The hearing concluded with Judge Wright opting for a reserved judgement, which is expected to be published in the next month.