back to article Ex-Capita accountant who claimed £10k bung to leave was blackmail has appeal thrown out

A Capita accountant who turned down a £10,000 bung to leave the firm only to be sacked anyway has lost her appeal against a rejected Employment Tribunal case. Mowe Saha claimed that in December 2015 Capita's deputy group financial controller, Simon Mayall, had offered her £10,000 to quit, which she refused. She was fired a few …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Who to believe

    Personally i would regard whatever Capita officially say as being on a par with comments by Prince Andrew

    1. macjules Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Who to believe

      I have yet to hear of someone "sweating like a Capita accountant".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who to believe

        They can't sweat due to all the adrenaline overdoses from the fear of working at Crapita.

        Now their sales teams sniffing around a Government contract - thats a different matter.

  2. DavCrav Silver badge

    "That cash offer was made in a meeting where the Employment Tribunal (ET) later ruled that Mayall had ordered "no notes should be taken", though Capita HR worker Ana Maru made notes from memory afterwards and emailed them to Mayall."

    Wait. You can say "don't take any notes about this meeting where I'm about to do something dodgy" and then if you write about it afterwards that's wrong? Why don't more people try that?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Personally, when I attend an important meeting - whether or not notes are allowed, when I get back to my desk, I will record somewhere the most important points as I remember them.

      Because, days or weeks later, there will always be someone to say "yeah, that was decided at that meeting" and, unless you have a record, you cannot disprove it.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        ..and drop them into an email. "At this meeting we agreed A, B and C. I'll get A done by Friday, work with the team on a plan for B which we'll get to you next week and look forward to hearing your proposals on C next Tuesday."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah but those notes were made after the meeting and nobody else has notes that corroborate your notes.

        Stop bullshitting.

        In fact there was no meeting. We were all in a Pizza Express in Woking on that day. I can distinctly remember it because it's unusual for us to have been there.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I go one further

        I use my phone to secretly record everything said in meetings. You never know when it could come in useful. Obviously you can't ever tell anyone you do it as I'm sure they'd go nuts over it and HR would show you the door.

        Used to use it with every meeting called into at old place of work as they were back stabbing fucks in senior management. If I ever do it now, it is purely for notes as I actually respect and trust people in the new place of employment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I go one further

          Enjoy being counter sued for misconduct.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      I wonder if there is a way for my phone to accidentally record all of this?

      1. stiine Silver badge

        do you have android

        Because if so, Google arlready does.

      2. GordonD

        It probably did, and it wasn't accidental.

        Just ask Facebook for the transcript/video that they didn't record, and don't have a copy of.

      3. georget

        I thought they did that already...Even if you tell it not to record this conversation?

      4. Chris the bean counter

        Tribunals usually accept recordings even if no agreement had been given.

      5. Aqua Marina
        Black Helicopters

        I did have an app on my phone that put it into airplane mode, turned on the microphone and recorded what it picked up, whilst displaying a fake turning off screen. I used to nonchelantly put my phone on the desk during a meeting so they could see it "powering down". Great app that I can't remember the name of, but I ended up replacing it with a spy usb stick. No-one ever suspects USB sticks left lying around, or in your pocket. They both came in very handy when dealing with a toxic line manager trying to cover up his incompetance.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Interesting

          Need to look that up. The Samsung S8 I have is OK as I put it on total silent mode when recording a meeting. However, I have to remember not to have it face up, because a blue light shows when recording if screen is on and for some odd reason, recently the mic has been having issues picking the voices up despite working fine so then the Samsung software can't detect audio it pops up a big, bloody message on the screen even when phone is locked.

        2. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re spy usb sticks

          Working for a US bank, I used a DVR pen, just poking out of my top pocket. But now I come to think of it, there were more people than one would expect in those meetings with pens in their shirt pockets who never seemed to have a pen when you visited them at their desk.

          maybe paranoia is catching?

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    £10k to quit? That's not blackmail, it's an insult. Or maybe Capita just being cheap.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      To put this in context - that's more than what you get if fired for Misconduct.

      If someone offered you £10k (plus notice period) to leave Capita would you take it? I'd be tempted.

      Not sure of the full facts of the case - but an accountant not wanting to work over financial year end (usually jan/feb) should find another job. Should they get time to decompress before/afterwards - yes.

      This is the bit that rang alarm bells for me. Like it or not - if you are considering quoting the Working Time Directive, things are already so bad you should be considering leaving.

      *Disclaimer its a given that Crapita are pure evil, that doesnt mean that in every case they are 100% the bad guy.

      1. teacake

        "If someone offered you £10k (plus notice period) to leave Capita would you take it? I'd be tempted."

        Yeah, me too. Particularly since I already don't work for them, so leaving would be quite a straightforward transition.

        In case they're reading, I'd also take £10k to not work for Amazon, and might even be prepared to negotiate down to £5k to not work for BT.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          *slams palms on the table and stands up*

          Fuck it. I'll do it for £4k and I'll deliver 1 month earlier.

          £4k down and I will guarantee to quit 1 month ago.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I think BT have to pay minimum wage to get people to not work for them.

          What do you mean some of them actually work? If that's the case, why have they rescheduled the number port we requested for the fifth time now?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm told that £10k is also slightly less than what it costs in legal fees to defend yourself from anyone alleging wrongful dismissal. So it's a good amount to ask for if you're taking someone for a ride, as at that point it's cheaper for the company to just pay you to go away.

      3. Peter2 Silver badge

        Not sure of the full facts of the case - but an accountant not wanting to work over financial year end (usually jan/feb) should find another job. Should they get time to decompress before/afterwards - yes.

        The Financial year end is actually usually the end of March, which is basically historical because when everybody else changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calandar the tax authorities refused to change. As a result of the tax year being where it is most companies choose to match their financial year with their tax year because it's easier, and it also means that accounts end of working late at the end of march, instead of over Christmas/New years when normal people want to spend the time with their family.

        The interesting part in here (imo) is that the accountant who produced the Capita accounts was regularly refusing to do things junior managers were demanding and frequently escalating issues to high level management. Now, why was this?

        This sort of thing usually happens when a junior staff member is being asked to do something that everybody senior to them knows they shouldn't be doing in the hope that in their ignorance they will actually do it. If it fails, the junior staff member asks their manager for the direction in writing, the line manager dodges and says that <senior staff> asked for it to be done that way, and they think there must have been a miscommunication so why don't you ask them what they meant directly, thus passing the buck higher.

        Senior staff member then when challenged on direction that shouldn't have been given of course won't give the junior the direction in writing (as this would defeat the object of when caught deploying the "it was a rouge junior staff member" defence and throwing them under the bus to defend the higher management) and gets out of the situation by claiming the chinese whisper defence of mangled instruction, and asks the junior staff member to do something somewhat plausible and within the rules.

        Of course, this only happens at all, let alone repeatedly in a toxic sort of workplace where the firm is doing dodgy things. Which leaves one wondering what is going on when this happens repeatedly, and in connection with Capita's accounts.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          "when caught deploying the "it was a rouge junior staff member" defence "

          The junior member of staff was caught red handed?

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Just to reiterate, IME £10k is being cheap.

        YMMV

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's called a compromise agreement and is a valid way to pay financial compensation to someone to leave a role without pursuing a misconduct or redundancy option.

      You can negotiate the amount and £10,000 may have been a starting offer, however if the company is prepared to pay then you are entitled to ensure the agreement includes clauses such as a recognised reference wording and you can choose how it is communicated why you have left. You also have to be given independent legal advice.

      You leave with a clean record and with money in your pocket with confidentiality for both sides.

      Also the fact that a compromise agreement has been discussed can't be used against either side in the main part. Therefore not blackmail at all, but still not nice if you weren't expecting it.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Well it's definitely not blackmail.

        It might be a bribe though.

        Important difference. If you're being bribed it's a lot better than being blackmailed. At least you get some free drinks out of it...

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Facepalm

          An accountant that doesn't know the difference...

          ... between receiving and paying is not much of an accountant. Then again, consider their choice of employers...

  4. DavCrav Silver badge

    Also, this is not blackmail

    It isn't blackmail to be offered money to do something. It's a pretty poor blackmailer that says "if you don't take this money from me I'll release the pictures to the press".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also, this is not blackmail

      Be crazy. Click on the link that ElReg helpfully provided.

      It contains the original email where blackmail was asserted. From what she said, the £10k was the carrot, there was a also stick to appear if it was not accepted.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Also, this is not blackmail

        Still not blackmail. "Take the money to leave quietly or don't and leave loudly" isn't blackmail. It's jumping before you are pushed, with a £10k parachute.

  5. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

    Who cares?

    I was mulling over which side to take, was blackmail or not, etc. But then I remembered that this is a dispute between Crapita and someone who chose to work for Crapita.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Who cares?

      As an accoutant, too.

      The only profession in which 'creative' is synonymous with 'criminal'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who cares?

        "The only profession in which 'creative' is synonymous with 'criminal'."

        What about "Creative Pharmacist"?

        "Creative MOT Tester"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who cares?

      The days where the unemployed get to chose about work are gone, you take the job or you starve.

      So take the job but start looking for another immediately is your only options to avoid the damage starvation can do to heart muscle.

      If your employer finds out the worst they can do sack you and you can rinse a repeat whilst still eating.

      Employees leaving as soon as they start is expensive for an employer ( HR time and training costs ) such that even the blindest managemtn leech who thinks only they are essential to the company is going to have start being a bit nicer (on the surface at least)

  6. Tilda Rice

    Funny, how most people can't see wood for trees.

    The money is for risk reduction. Capita must have been on reasonable ground to make the offer, knowing they would move to termination either way. The leaver has the choice to take money, or reserve the right to go down the legal route (often misguided). The company pays the money to remove the risk of later legal challenge.

    The fact the amount was very low (10k is low in these situations) must have meant she was a total PITA and they were pretty confident :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Capita have been known to do dodgy things...

    But I'm not so sure in this case. Sounds like a PITA employee who snubbed a 'golden hand-shake'. That's not blackmail, that's an acknowledgement of a breakdown in employee/employer relations.

    However in my/our case it was the firing of multiple people on trumped up charges. We were all in the 18.5k pay-band providing tech support on premium rate lines. We were replaced with people paid 13k with less skill = longer premium rate phone calls for Dixon/Currys/PCWorld customers.

    In the end it didn't reach the tribunal stage due to a Capita/DSG employee refusing me the right to speak during a disciplinary hearing (thank God I was a Unison member). Two and a half months of back-pay and my choice of Team & Hours is what I got as a result (my new team leader was a genuinely nice bloke too).

    It was monumentally hard on me financially & physiologically until the back-pay was provided (@ emergency tax rate). The volume of phones calls and letters to HMRC to properly reverse the P45 so it never happened was also a PITA.

    I got out of there as soon as I could afterwards. I fought them because I didn't want a firing on my CV as that would have damaged my career immensely.

    She should have just taken the 10k - it's not nice to work somewhere where you know you're clearly not wanted.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not golden handshake

    more golden p*ss off we are sick of you

    The ET are there not to punish your employer, if you wanted that you should have been born rich enough not to have to work, the ET is there to remove access to the expensive civil courts system reserved for those who can pay even if they loose.

    At the point where you have refused a reasonable requirement of your job you have already lost

    Not saying that this company didn't deserve to be punished just that the ex-employee left themselves open especially after reneging upon a reasonable agreement about not to take notes. having a witness who can disagree with their opinion of what happened is enough. Being reasonable and trustworthy is paramount to having your side listen to if you are in any court and being overtly stroppy is going to work against you.

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: Not golden handshake

      I think you have a factoid or two mistaken.

      Deputy Director Simon Mayall ordered "no notes to be taken". His HR worker Ana Maru made them anyway and sent a copy to him. The employee had nothing to do with the note taking, so did not leave themselves open. The inference about the lack of notes is that the company was caught trying to hide what it was doing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not golden handshake

        Unless the employer said "no one will take notes" would it make any difference, they never do as they would then be more liable than the employee

        My understanding is that the employer makes the compromise agreement offer with the understanding that they retain the right to remove it from the table without the employee being able to later refer to the offer ever existing. Effectively they are saying we will give you this cash to piss off but if you try and use the offer against us then you will have broken the rules by which we offered it in the first place. The idea behind the agreement is that the benefit of employee leaving quickly and quietly against the cost/damage possible from the legal action in the event that it goes to the ET rather than "we acknowledge that we did things wrong" so take this bunge because we feel guilty,believe me they do not feel guilty at all no matter what they did.

  9. Imhotep

    Handwriting On The Wall

    If an employer offers you money to leave, take it: because you WILL be leaving.

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Handwriting On The Wall

      If an employer offers you money to leave, take it carefully undertake negotiations and see how much higher an offer you can push for: because you WILL be leaving.

      1. Imhotep

        Re: Handwriting On The Wall

        Yes, it's always a good idea to negotiate. If they want you to be gone bad enough, the number should reflect just how badly they want that.

        And if they want you to stay, same thing applies. I was always surprised at the number of employees who stayed on for a smaller amount than new hires.

  10. Veal Crate Coward

    In 2015, Capita had built a secret debt pile which would see the share price crash from £16 to £1 and Capita to exit the FTSE100. So where it claims that she was a pain in the arse, she may well have been pointing out some very valid concerns which the management either didnt want to raise or were to scared to!

  11. Aussie Doc
    Go

    Is it just me?

    I was thinking more about how a CV would look saying you were fired from Capita??? <---Extra question marks for gravitas

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