Aug 31 2012 by Jennifer Buchanan, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THE owners of a Prestwick restaurant have been ordered to pay out almost £4000 to an ex-employee.
Mark and Fiona Smith, owners of the Pinewood, didn’t pay theirassistant manager proper wages for five months.
Rachel Ayers, who worked in the restaurant for 18 months, was originally brought in to waitress for a few weeks, to cover shifts for people who were off on holiday.
But when her time was up, the Smiths asked Rachel to stay. And she was quickly promoted to assistant manager.
But in October 2011 the problems started.
Rachel explained: “I knew they were having money problems so I told them not to worry about paying me for a while so they could sort themselves out.
“I had savings to see me over for a bit.
“I eventually had to go and ask them if I could start being paid again, they said no problem.
“But I had to keep asking and it was taking forever for anything to come through.
“They kept saying they’d put the money in and were blaming the bank.
“It got to the stage I was constantly asking and they kept saying they’d get it sorted but nothing came in.”
By March, Rachel was getting desperate.
She added: “I had bills and direct debits due to come out so on Thursday, March 24 I said to Mark that I needed money.
“He transferred £50 to me.
“On Sunday I spoke to Mark again and said my bills were coming out on the Monday so I had to have my money.
“He said that I could take whatever cash was left in the till at the end of the night and put it into my bank, but when I went at the end of my shift there was nothing left.”
Rachel met with Mark and Fiona Smith on Tuesday, March 27 to discuss the situation, but the meeting didn’t go well.
Rachel, 26, said: “They started blaming everything on me saying I wasn’t following procedures or doing the job I was expected to do.
“That was it for me. I just thought enough is enough and I said I wouldn’t be working for them any more.”
Rachel tried to use employment mediation service ACAS to get the wages owed to her but talks eventually broke down and Rachel, who comes from Troon, was forced to turn to the employment tribunal.
By this stage, Rachel was so exhausted by the whole process that she decided she needed a change. So she packed her bags and moved to Gran Canaria, where she is now working in a bar.
She said: “After the whole situation with the Pinewood I needed to get away.
“I’ve been to Gran Canaria a lot and know a lot of people over here so when I got work I decided to go for it.”
“While I was here I got an email from the Smiths saying they weren’t contesting the amount they owed me and would sort it out.
“But then I heard they hadn’t responded to the courts.”
And because the Smiths made no response to the tribunal proceedings, employment judge Jane Garvie ordered the Pinewood to pay Rachel £3965 as unlawful deduction from wages on July 30.
They were also told to pay £235 in lieu of annual leave.
If Mark and Fiona Smith don’t pay the money by September 11, eight per cent interest per annum will be added to the total they have to pay.
Rachel said: “If they don’t pay by September 11 I’ll get a sheriff’s officer involved.
“It will probably take some time to get the money but I’m not letting it go, it’s owed to me.”
Attempts by the Post to contact the Smiths were unsuccessful. The Pinewood on Prestwick’s Main Street is closed and a sign in the window says it will be “closed until further notice due to family illness”.