You and the Law – 10th May 2011

Awaiting wages

My son started work for a double-glazing firm a month ago on a self-employed basis.  He is supposed to be paid weekly, but although they are promising to pay him he has yet to receive any money.  EP

If your son has to work as and when directed by the firm it’s likely he is employed, not self-employed.  This is an important distinction, since self-employed people have no employment protection.  If the situation continues he can apply to an employment tribunal for a ruling as to his employment status and for his pay. 

If the tribunal accepts he is employed by the firm it could order them to pay him compensation.  Alternatively, he could bring a claim in the small claims court where his employment status won’t be so important.  When firms don’t pay their employees it could be a sign that they’re going under.

Maintenance abroad

We are getting divorced.  I have been paying maintenance for my children through the Child Support Agency, but when my wife took them to the Republic of Ireland last year, the CSA decided they were outside their jurisdiction and closed the case. 

Will the English court issue an order for child maintenance if the mother and children continue to live outside the UK and I am unable to find out where they are?  CB

I take it their whereabouts are known to the court, even if the address is being withheld from you.  If they’ve vanished without trace you may find it difficult to proceed with the divorce, since the court will want to know that arrangements for the children have been settled before allowing the divorce to be finalised. 

As regards maintenance, if the CSA is no longer involved, the English court could make a maintenance order which your wife could enforce by registering it in Ireland under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) agreement.

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