I have written this article to put my side of the story across regarding the seven hundred quid dispute between Bartlomiej Tomaszewski (who I will refer to by his preferred nickname of Bartek for the remainder of this article) and myself (Richard Howard) that ended in the hands of an Employment Tribunal in May 2023 (case: Mr B Tomaszewski v Mr R Howard: 2304046/2022).
I wrote this article not to win anyone over to my side but just to make the point (in a very wordy way haha) that there was more to this dispute than it would first appear. You’re welcome to your own opinion of course.
Standing By My Words
Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am very aware of the laws in the UK about defamation/libel/slander and so I am willing to stand by every word I have posted in this article. If anything I have said is untrue or misleading then let my arse be sued for libel and an unspeakable amount in damages.
It is correct that Bartek worked alongside me in my Wimbledon office from February 2022 until September 2022 however he was employed by, and had his wages paid by an agency company. They also paid his national insurance and pension contributions.
This is a model that many businesses use, some of the most common being retailers like Next, Marks & Spencer, Argos etc who for example, require temporary staff over the Christmas season and so rather than advertise and employ them directly they use agencies to supply them with temporary staff to deal with the increased demand in their businesses.
These individuals are not direct employees of the retailer as their employment affairs are managed, paid by an employment agency company who deal with all the admin and any headaches. This is a service that they provide for a modest fee.
Project Bartek Worked On
During this time Bartek worked for 3 days a week alongside me in a Wimbledon office with 100% of his work related to assisting me with my third party passport assistance business called Submission Support Ltd.
This business provides a range of third party services such as document and photo checking for £10 (charged at £17 from the Post Office), access to a Queue Jumping Service which allows the applicant to lodge their passport at a much earlier date for £15 and an optional £50 extra for having myself or a colleague attend the London Passport Office on the applicant’s behalf to take advantage of HM Passport Offices’ Fast Track 1 Week or Premium 1 Day renewal services.
This of course saves the applicant/s time, travel and potentially accommodation costs in having to go themselves. Plus attending an appointment in person is often just not possible for those who have young children, dependent parents or who cannot get the day off work.
His Daily Tasks
His tasks would be very repetitive. These included responding to emails from prospects enquiring about our services and how we could help them, what the charges were, whether they were eligible for a British passport, whether it made sense from them to us an agency like us or go direct to HM Passport Office via Gov.uk etc.
There would also be emails from clients who had already chosen to use our service seeking advice on the process, what accompanying documents they need to provide, whether their documents had been received at our office, any updates on their application etc. These were all inbound emails. There were no outbound / cold emails to randomers.
He would also book appointments on behalf of clients via Gov.uk and alongside me and another remote worker constantly monitor each clients appointment web link to try and “Queue Jump” them to an earlier or more convenient date based on their preferences should a cancellation at one of the seven Passport Offices arise.
And most importantly of all he was responsible for monitoring the booked appointments we had already made for clients who were due to courier their documents to the Wimbledon office but were currently busy getting their photos done, securing a counter signatory etc.
We’d book their appointment in advance to ensure that when their documents arrived at the Wimbledon office their appointment would be just a day or two away vs only booking them when the documents arrived and then having to start at the back of the queue and wait a good 1-2 weeks for a slot.
And finally on occasion he would physically take the passport application form, old passport and 2 photographs of clients that arrived at our office in Wimbledon to the London Victoria Passport Office for renewal. This being our popular “Passport Lodging” service. He’d simply queue up, wait for his number to be called and then hand over all of the documents to the HM Passport Office examiner.
That was all of his duties. They were all very simple rinse and repeat tasks.
As you can also see NOTHING mentioned above was related to Managed Mail Service Ltd (MMS) or its activities.
As the website’s home page confirms (here >), MMS provides a print and post service on behalf of individuals and other businesses via its mobile app, email to print and desktop tools all of which work like a virtual printer and provide a done for you style mailing service.
So NONE of Bartek’s tasks related to printing and posting client documents, adding an article to this website, reaching out to prospective businesses via phone, email or otherwise to try and get them to outsource their printing needs and nothing related to advertising the business whatsoever.
His work was 100% related to the passport campaign under Submission Support Ltd.
The importance of the above will become clear later.
February to August 2022
Overall everything went smoothly from when he worked alongside me from February 2022 until August 2022 and there were never any complaints from Bartek regarding his payslips, money received or any issues raised related to a lack of training or clarity on what he was supposed to be doing.
My desk was always a few metres away from him and so I was there daily to provide any advice and support at any time he needed it.
His 6 month employment term had been due to end in late August 2022 however as I was due to be America for a few weeks in September I offered that he stay on until the third week of September under the exact same terms as the previous 6 months and so the same hours, pay, employment structure, tasks etc to which he accepted.
As you can imagine the busiest time for passport applications and renewals is April to August. People in the UK generally travel around Easter time and of course a lot over the Summer holidays. In September the kids are back at school and so as has been shown year in year out, passport applications significantly dip in September onwards.
Bartek therefore had a very cushy job, based on the sent items tab of the company email box of September 2022 just 8-10 emails were responded to and around 2-3 new appointments booked via Gov.uk on behalf of clients each day.
In addition to that the company had a remote based assistant in the Philippines who helped with admin work too and so the workload is split!
I knew that it would be quiet and that the company would make a loss whilst I was away but I wanted to ensure that clients were well taken care of, that documents were lodged as soon as they could be and that any questions were answered promptly.
Friday 23rd September 2022
As already outlined, one of Bartek’s very simple daily tasks was to monitor the pre-booked appointments of clients who had paid for our Passport Lodging service but due to not having the form yet, still needing to take their passport photographs or still needing to find a counter signatory to sign their application form have yet to courier their documents to us so that we can lodge their application at the London Victoria Passport Office.
Because HM Passport Office via the Gov.uk website provides a “first come, first serve” policy on appointments it’s wise to book a client in advance of their documents arriving so that their appointment is just a day or two away when they arrive.
If we waited until the documents were in hand and then booked them we’d be waiting a 2 weeks or so from then as we’d only have just joined the queue. Something which the client would not be impressed with.
Whilst HM Passport Office give each applicant a unique Gov.uk web link to their appointment and once clicked allows you to change it to another day, time and Passport Office at will this function is DISABLED when the appointment is 48hrs or less away.
And so if you had an appointment for next Wednesday it would be locked / not changeable from next Monday morning at 00:01am. You would then either need to attend that appointment or forfeit 100% of the fee.
In 2022 HM Passport Office offered no refunds on their Fast Track and Premium Services regardless of the reason. It was very much a use it or lose it policy.
If you were not eligible for a British passport or the service you requested, you forgot to attend, you found the old passport down the back of the sofa 10 minutes after booking an appointment etc it wouldn’t matter, you would NOT get a refund.
And so it was essential that we never let our client appointments “lock” unless we had the client documents to hand and could actually attend this appointment which was 1-2 days away. If they did lock and we didn’t have their docs we’d have messed up and would have to pay again for another one which was £142 per adult passport out of our own pocket. Pretty darn expensive!
We therefore had a very simple, yet effective system for this which was just before 5pm each day Bartek or myself (depending on who was in the office) would load up each and every one of the appointment web links of all of the customers who we’d booked for the Passport Lodging service but we’d yet to receive their documents and then push the appointment date forward to ensure that at midnight none would lock.
As this was a Friday evening and we didn’t work weekends this would mean ensuring that all the appointments were next Thursday or later so that when I arrived in the office on Monday morning they would all be accessible (as mentioned above the rule is 48hrs or more).
Whilst this was his job by default and something he’d done for months and whilst I was not even working on Friday 23rd September I did come online now and then to make sure everything was ok and even messaged him shortly after 4pm via Skype on this day to remind him to move the appointments and to ensure that were next Thursday or later.
He read this message immediately and responded in seconds with a thumbs up. This is something I remember at the time and looking back at the Skype chat it confirms this. This task again, is clicking on a web link, choosing a new date and pressing save. That’s all there is to it. Each one takes 20 seconds from start to finish.
As this was Bartek’s last day at the company and I had no doubts that he’d done a great job in my absence I thanked him for all his hard work and wished him all the best for the future.
Monday 26th September
When I arrived back in the office on the Monday my Filipino admin assistant advised me to my horror that 14 client appointments had now “locked” as they had NOT been moved as was Bartek’s job, something he had done for well over 6 months and something that I had even reminded him to do on a VERY quite working day!
I immediately emailed him to let him know about this and advised him to get on the phone ASAP to HM Passport Office and try to retrieve each and every one of them.
This of course being only half of the problem as we would soon have 14 extremely upset clients who had lost their place in the queue, not to mention the fact that the company would likely have to pay for 14 more appointments/passports!
An adult passport in 2022 via the Fast Track Service cost £142 and so him not doing his job properly or at all should I say would cost the company £1,988.
Rest of the Week
I received no reply from Bartek regarding my email.
So on the Tuesday I sent him an iMessage which was shown as “Read” on my iPhone that suggested he check his email and reiterated that this was HIS mess, it was what he was PAID FOR and so as he messed up it was just and morally right for him to undo the damage him not doing his job properly had caused my small business.
So later in the week I sent ANOTHER email asking him to do the right thing and correct his mistake. Bartek once told me that this was the only job he ever really enjoyed and that he felt very appreciated and respected here and so I suggested that if for no other reason he undo this damage to show appreciation of that.
I once again received no response.
Monday 3rd October
But on Monday I heard from Bartek!
He emailed me not to apologise for the mess and willingness to undo the damage he’d caused but to ask where his September 2022 wages were…
In my response I made reference to my ignored emails and text messages.
His email back was that he DID move the appointments as instructed there was a “bug” with HM Passport Office systems that didn’t save his changes (I have never seen this bug since 2016 nor to this day, even though since October 2022 I personally change appointments on a daily basis on behalf of clients).
He also stated that he “didn’t receive any text messages from me” even though they were shown as firstly “Delivered” and then “Read” on my iPhone and every single message I sent to him for 2 weeks in September when I was in America came through fine…
He then said “he didn’t care” about the financial loss the company had incurred or clearly give two hoots about the 14 clients who’s appointments had been lost or how he’d likely cost them their flights and maybe even holiday with us needing to re-book them and unnecessarily join the back of the queue for a new appointment.
He just wanted payment for work he didn’t do and wanted ME to clean up HIS mess.
Rest of the Week
We went back and forward with emails with all I kept saying was that he should take responsibility for the damage he had caused, man up and undo that damage. Nothing more, nothing less.
His father is an electrician and so I attempted to use the analogy of imagining that he installed some new lighting in an office and the next day the lights wouldn’t power up.
When the business called him to let him know of this would he shrug his shoulders and say meh you paid me for my time, your problem or say I’ll come back and fix them if you pay me again.
NO!, the company hired him for a service and if they don’t get that due to sloppy work then it should be fixed before payment should be due.
It’s FAIR that you RECEIVE what you’re being charged for!
Rest of October 2022
A number of emails went back and forward with us both holding firm to our positions. I wanted NOTHING more than for him to reset the scales of how things should have been on his last day.
I was not saying to him oh you need to lodge some extra documents for me for free, you’re only get paid for x hours instead of y or trying to have him do some errands for free like take my laundry in for dry cleaning or to give the office a spruce up etc.
I was not even asking that he share the wrath of 14 very upset clients or share in the company losses that would be incurred with full or partial refunds to compensate the affected clients. I knew that the company would have to take the financial hit on this.
I saw his refusal to do ANYTHING as nothing more than stubbornness, laziness and an unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions or lack thereof should I say.
It was even more frustrating for me being that I knew he’d left the company without even attempting to find another job and instead was going back on state benefits at the taxpayers expense to “train for a charity boxing match”.
So as we were having this argument he was likely sitting at home doing almost nothing and getting paid for it. Apparently it was too much to ask that he wear an earpiece and call HM Passport Office to try and unlock the appointments he’d lost whilst sitting at home watching Netflix or whatever.
Hours Charged For
During this back and forth I also took the time to check the PC monitoring software on Bartek’s computer and found to my utter astonishment that EACH and EVERY day he was “working” at the office whilst I was away he had YouTube open on his second screen.
Clicking on his exact video links were not videos of relaxing background music which I would have had no issue with as even I listen to relaxing music when I work but videos of people from around the world playing Xbox and Playstation games!!
So yes, whilst the boss was away Bartek was invoicing me his hourly fee for spending a good chunk of time slacking off and watching such videos on the side. Whilst there was not a huge amount of emails to reply to there was always work related to editing “How to Videos” and updating the website with FAQ or travel news articles.
He had no response to this when I raised it with him. I think he knew it would have been pointless to deny it to be honest as the tracking software does not lie.
Utterly determined not to correct the situation and do nothing Bartek then decided to open an Employment Tribunal case.
To my utter disbelief when the paperwork arrived at the office he chose to raise the claim against Managed Mail Services Ltd (with an s) on the end. There is no such company. There is a Managed Mail Service Ltd which is my other company and owns this website you are currently on but the other entity does not even exist.
Furthermore and more importantly as stated above Bartek did NO WORK related to this company whatsoever. As stated above 100% of his work here was related to assistance with Submission Support Ltd and its passport campaign.
Plus MMS was also not the name of his employment agency of which was included on each and every one of his payslips, was the company sending his wages so would also be on his bank statements and also in his welcome email when he started work.
In summary, his tribunal claim seemed to me to be a continuation of his sloppy work.
His Submissions to the Tribunal
Bartek submitted his “logging in” and “logging out” times as proof of hours worked and remarkably stated that he was “overwhelmed at work”, “lacked training” and did the “best he could”. He also stated that a “team” was needed to do the work he was given.
There was of course no mention or even denial of everything I said above.
No mention let alone proof of the “bug” on HM Passport Office’s end or even any attempt to say that it wasn’t his responsibility to maintain the client appointments on a daily basis or any denial that I had even REMINDED him to move them on his last day at the company.
My Submissions to the Tribunal
Due to the absurd approach that Bartek had taken indicting a non-existent company and even if that matter was cleaned up the WRONG company and he knew it, I simply wrote a 1 page letter to the Judge advising her of the truth that Bartek was employed via another company (not owned by myself) and he was sub-contracted to work alongside me.
Six monthly payslips and a screen shots of wages coming from that company’s bank accounts proved this and so I submitted that this claim should be dismissed due to it not being raised correctly whatsoever and Bartek should follow very basic procedure properly and either start again against the company on his payslips or Submission Support Ltd (my other company who provides passport assistance).
I do admit part of my position was that I did not want to reward him for sloppy work. If you have a dispute then fine, go right ahead but this tribunal claim was so incredibly badly raised and littered with exaggerations and untruths then he should darn well pay attention for once, not be so gormless and raise one that is honest and in order!
To my utter disbelief and against common sense and the Companies Act 2006 the Judge took it upon herself to shift liability not just from a non existent company to another one i.e. the limited company that employed Bartek, paid his wages, his national insurance and pension contributions or perhaps to Managed Mail Service Ltd who Bartek stated he always worked for.
No the Judge decided to move the goal posts and found that his employer was Richard Howard. Yes apparently I employed Bartek personally! Bartek submissions were that he worked for Managed Mail Service Ltd for a 6 month placement and agreed to stay for 3 weeks more in September 2022 under the SAME terms, doing the SAME work.
My submissions were of course that his employer was an employment agency and if Bartek had an issue he should take his actual employer to ummm an employment tribunal maybe?…
Yet the Judge decided that on the 7th month, the terms changed and he stopped being an employee of Managed Mail Service Ltd and I dunno stopped doing the same work that he had for months and perhaps started being my housekeeper? washing my car? getting some groceries? or doing other errands for me?
It was the most absurd finding especially as she was taking anything and everything Bartek as fact and he was telling her NOTHING changed on the 7th month whatsoever and his employer was Managed Mail Service Ltd!
She also relied on a Court of Appeal finding that “employment tribunals should do their best not to place artificial barriers in the way of genuine claims.” I mean how patronising for the average person. It’s to much to ask that an employee read their welcome email, read the company name on their payslips, look at which company is the payee on their monthly wages to find out their employer name?! Or to actually open a case against a company you’re actually doing work for i.e. Submission Support Ltd.
It was clear to me that this Judge and perhaps the entire tribunal process leans hugely in the favour of the employee as she ordered that Richard Howard rather than a company was liable for his wages.
Questions to Bartek
I advised Bartek via email that an appeal would be lodged and asked him why he did not issue the proceedings against the company that employed him, the name of which was on each and every one of his payslips and appeared as the payee on each and every one of his monthly credits to his bank account or at least against Submission Support Ltd being that 100% of his daily tasks were related to this company’s activities.
I also asked him why he chose to blatantly lie to the Court regarding his nature of work and claimed he was doing print and post tasks or Managed Mail Service Ltd. Instead of providing a detailed response to both highly relevant and fair questions he replied with two words: “Grow up”.
Apparently blatantly lying to a Judge is perfectly acceptable to him so long as it gets the job done. Win at all costs it would seem.
Whilst it’s obviously clear based on the above I do not agree with the outcome whatsoever and consider it invalid not just in law but in common sense and not to mention that it was issued on a foundation of untruths told to the Judge I am nether the less happy to say that this dispute between myself and Bartek has now been resolved.
I advised Bartek that an appeal would be lodged and based on the two huge issues related to who his employer was and the fact the nature of his work was related exclusively to Submission Support Ltd and so was confident it would succeed.
However I decided to do what I probably should have done from the start which is just suck it up that I had a very ungrateful young guy, who appeared not to have any integrity in the quality of his work, did not see it as his moral duty to right a wrong of his own making and was fine with charging me for a task that wasn’t done and of course also watch YouTube videos all day long of people playing video games!!
Obviously appeals take time to be heard by the court and you can appeal the appeal so it can go on and on. Plus if based on the new information the Judge agreed to throw out the original claim and direct Bartek to start again that would be an additional 9 months or so to get to a second hearing.
So the deal that Bartek and I came to was very simple. He’d receive 100% of what he said were the hours he worked (including a paid 1hr lunch break and holiday pay) in exchange for sending an email to the tribunal stating that he had nothing further to add regarding my appeal and that the matter had been resolved between us.
Wiring the Funds & Bartek Betrayal
True my word I wired him 100% of the wages that he claimed via the employment tribunal process in mid July 2023. I emailed him to notify him of this and let him know that it was now his turn to follow through on his side of the bargain.
I received no reply…
A few days later I emailed a reminder, advising him that we can end this headache and he can never hear of this issue or myself ever again if he just does what he promised to do.
I received no reply…
I tried one last time but I received no reply.
I guess looking back now, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I should have known the value of his word or trusting someone who has behaved in the way I have outlined above.
Obviously there was almost no effort and zero cost in writing a two line email and sending it over nor would he have been at any disadvantage to him were the finding to be quashed as we had already agreed settlement terms and he was in receipt of all of the money he sought.
It was clearly an intentional betrayal out of spite. He’s in his early twenties yet I get the impression by this behaviour he behaves more like a stroppy teenager at times.
Anyway, unlike a good chunk of employers who have a tribunal ruling or county court judgement against them and just ignore it and give a finger to the system, I can at least say that Bartek is not a penny out of pocket financially. He received 100% the wages he was seeking.
All of his behaviour since leaving the company shows to me at least, that he’s just someone who’s out for himself and his lack of integrity by not following through on our mutually agreed settlement arrangement also shows that he’s revengeful.
And so whilst I never even considered it as a possibility before his betrayal, I now sadly think there was a good chance that he INTENTIONALLY did not move the client appointments forward on his final day…
That is a bold thing to say but as I have said before, this was a task he would do each and every day he worked alongside me and had been doing it for over 6 months. This was the first time that he’d screwed up like this and to lose not just 1 or 2 but 14 darn appointments! which on reflection is very suspect and unusual to say the least…
My point of view is now also that he likely had some inner resentment towards me or the company and this was a way to express it without any comeback.
Who knows, perhaps it was just a coincidence that his biggest and most costly error towards the company happened on his last day of 7 months working alongside me…
Any Regrets from Me?
Clearly having an Employment Tribunal finding publicly available ain’t great. The face value impression being that I’m some kind of scumbag who had no justification for behaving the way he did and that the only motive was to greedily pocket his wages.
I believe this article gives more context to the situation and being that I JUST wanted Bartek to correct a mess of his own making and DO the task that he was charging me for. I would suck it up and deal with 14 irate customers and take the financial hit on the inevitable full or partial refunds needed as compensation and so I for one, am satisfied that my position was a reasonable one.
I was again never trying to get him to agree to having done fewer hours, have him do some extra work like lodge some more documents for free or do some errands like take my laundry to the dry cleaners etc. All I ever wanted was for him to just undo the damage he’d caused. Nothing more, nothing less.
Even though I had grave doubts that he’d actually worked the hours he claimed and along with proof from his PC showed that he was watching videos on his second screen of others playing computer games on YouTube throughout his working hours where he was billing me for working hours I never intended to pocket his wages.
Proof of this is from an email quoted in the Tribunal finding. Bartek asked “Are you going to pay me?” I replied “Absolutely. As soon as u correct your mistake and get affairs back into the state they should have been in when you left…”.
I have always struggled with grown adults not taking responsibility for their own actions and trying to make THEIR mess someone else’s problem. I have also always despised liars and sloppy work.
And so with all three prevalent in this case (the total mess of his tribunal case, in my mind being just a continuation of his sloppy work) I would of course pay but only when he’d done a job properly for once.
As far as I was concerned this would mean getting an ACAS certificate with his ACTUAL employers name on it, correctly issuing proceedings against THAT company and not blatantly lie to a Judge in a court of law about the nature of this work (claiming he was doing print and post work) or pretending it was “to busy” or he “lacked training”.
But as I have experienced for the first time of 18yrs of running my own businesses (this is my first ever employment tribunal case) I can now see why 95% of employment tribunal claims do not make it as far as the hearing itself because from my point of view and personal experience it is HUGELY in favour of the employee.
It’s truly remarkable an tribunal claim can be so poorly brought and still be deemed in order when it clearly isn’t. Especially when you compare it to the County Court system where many individuals bring claims without a solicitor day in day out via the governments Money Claim Online service (details >).
As an example, I once issued a claim against Ryanair for charging me twice for 1 piece of additional baggage but it was struck out based on the fact the wrong Ryanair entity had sold me the ticket. Even though they are all part of one group and called Ryanair this and Ryanair that the one I sued wasn’t the right one so the claim failed.
I’ve also pursued a bank in the past but the court claim was struck out as I did not complete and post back the “Allocation Questionnaire” in time.
Whilst in both examples it was frustrating for me to have two failed claims on grounds that are not related to the core argument whatsoever, it does make total sense that you need to have things in order otherwise where does it stop?
Do you sue your neighbour Joe Smith for £150 for not returning the lawnmower he borrowed from you only on the steps of court for you to say oh whoops, I meant to put his brother John Smith down as the defendant as that’s who I meant and then expect the Judge to find against another person/company?!
I’m obviously not a fan of the rules being sooo tight that individuals who have claims against companies are forever losing due to small technicalities i.e. they forget to send over 1 of 20 exhibits and do so like 2 days later then the deadline, they reply to a deadline a day or two late or they use the wrong percentage value to calculate the interest and so claim to much etc but as I have said there surely must be a line.
Although from my experience it doesn’t seem to matter in the tribunal process who issues your payslips, pays your wages, your national insurance or pension contributions or which company is on the all important ACAS certificate or is served tribunal paperwork as on the day of the hearing the Judge can just plaster over any cracks, make any party liable they wish all for the benefit of the claimant.
It is fair to say that I let my ego get the best of me and that I really should have just sucked it up and admitted that sometimes you unfairly get the short end of the stick, that not everyone does the right/morale thing and that remarkably some people see it as completely fair to leave behind a mess or demand a further payment to set it right.
Anyone who runs their own business knows that you need to factor in things such as theft, bad debt from the small number of customers who pay with a stolen credit card, suppliers who go bust or won’t pay their invoice and the shortcomings people associated with their business.
And so I really should have just sucked it up, paid up and let go of the feelings of anger and injustice that I had.
Hindsight, a wonderful thing.
Anyway Bartek is now in receipt of 100% of the monies for the hours he claimed for and the matter is now over.
Questions for Me?
Thank you for reading this article, I did not write it to try and win anyone over to my side of the argument but to simply get my side of the story out there to the very few people who actually care to know haha.
If you have any questions regarding it feel free to contact me here >