A recently-departed Spicerhaart employee in East Anglia has contacted The Negotiator to complain bitterly about the way she has been treated by the company during the Covid lockdown.
The senior negotiator, who worked for the company for over a year prior to her departure, says the conduct of senior managers both before and during her resignation from Spicerhaart was so shocking that she is keen that other agents do not have to go through the same process.
“What they’ve done to me is just disgusting and I know they’ve had a lot of bad press recently, but I wouldn’t wish my experience on my worst enemies,” she says. “And I didn’t ever want it to come to this.”
The agent involved worked for one of its offices near Norwich at the company’s Howards chain for six months before being promoted and moved to another bigger branch to work as a valuer.
“They wouldn’t pay me the commission that was owed from my first role and tried to put me on another contract, saying my clawback pay period would have to start again, so I declined to sign another contract as it as they who had promoted me,” she says. “My new line manager said that was fine.”
Spicerhaart operates a policy whereby new starters have to pay back 75% of their initial start-up salary if they later leave the company before four months, which then tapers the longer they stay until after nine months.
The agent says she then witnessed the brutal way hundreds of staff, including many of her colleagues, were made redundant without any warning just after the lockdown was announced, while she was furloughed.
“Alarm bells started ringing and as the weeks passed and I didn’t hear anything from my local or regional manager and it was clear there was no plan and that were problems within the company so I lost faith completely,” she says.
As rumours flew, the agent says she became so worried that, when she was offered a job by a local independent agency, she jumped at the chance and gave her notice.
Spicerhaart HR then told her she owed them £5,000 in clawback payments which she strongly disagreed with.
On 17th June she contacted HR to lodge a grievance and to ask for confirmation but heard nothing. She then discovered last Thursday that her final payslip was zero after the company deducted over £3,000 and she was told she still owed the company £260.
“They took my pay, holiday pay and furlough money which can’t be right. I complained to CEO Paul Smith and Senior MD Anthony Lark but haven’t heard anything since, no acknowledgement of my complaint… nothing.”
“I am a hard-working person but now I’m having to live on my savings just to survive until I get paid by my new employer. It’s a shambles at Spicerhaart and I don’t believe the whole ‘family’ thing any longer. “I am now seeking legal advice.”
“We are disappointed that this individual chose to leave and work for a competitor as they had a bright future ahead of them at Howards and had received considerable support from their manager during the time they were furloughed, including regular communications.
“It has been our policy throughout this whole period to constantly communicate with our staff, whether working or on furlough, and they also have access to a number of different channels of communication where updates are posted regularly.
“As for their own personal contractual arrangement, their terms and conditions are perfectly clear and we would not comment publicly on a matter that is private and confidential.
“We are focusing on the future for everybody within our workforce, building a strong business with exciting plans for expansion. No amount of negativity from this individual, or from anyone else for that matter, will detract us from achieving our objectives.”