Wrongfully sacked chef wins £15,000 payout from El Toro in Southsea after bosses sacked him for asking about holiday pay

FORMER owners of a restaurant have been forced to fork out more than £15,000 after a tribunal found bosses unfairly sacked a chef for asking about holiday pay.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 7:00 am
Former El Toro chef Fabio Bacanhim with his paper evidence at his home in Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Former El Toro chef Fabio Bacanhim with his paper evidence at his home in Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Fabio Bacanhim, former cook at Osborne Road venue El Toro, said his depression spiralled when he lost his job after making the complaint.

A legal battle started when the 31-year-old father took five days off after working for three months at the Southsea venue in February 2018.

Mr Bacanhim, who moved to Britain from Madeira in 2011, confronted head chef Forhad Ahmed when he came back from leave as he had not been paid for the break.

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El Toro in Osborne Road, Southsea. Picture: Google Street View

He was then sacked and Mr Ahmed said ‘things weren’t working’ as Mr Bacanhim threatened to report El Toro to HMRC – prompting the legal fight.

A tribunal earlier this year found in the sacked worker’s favour and said he was ‘unfairly dismissed for asserting a statutory right’ – and awarded him £15,854.67.

‘I’ve been here for eight years and this is the first company which has treated me like this, it’s not good,' said Mr Bacanhim, of Gains Road, Southsea.

‘I’ve worked in this profession for many years and this affected my depression because I was so worried.

Chef Fabio Bacanhim at his home in Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘I started medication and I had to change to a stronger one. My doctor said I had really bad symptoms.’

As part of his payout, Mr Bacanhim received £480.96 in holiday pay and £1,282.52 because El Toro failed to provide him with a contract of employment – an agreement the tribunal found none of the restaurant’s employees had.

He also got £82.73 backdated national minimum wage, after El Toro failed to hike his pay when the rate changed in April, 2018, allegedly because of its arrears system.

All of these failures, Mr Bacanhim said, were the result of working in the ‘most disorganised’ environment of his career to date.

‘It’s not up to me to go to them when they have a responsibility to look after their employees,’ he said.

‘They would tell you to go and sort out the problem yourself, even when it was their problem to sort out.’

Having heard the case a tribunal found El Toro was responsible for at least one ‘extraordinary basic failure’, after it emerged the venue had not even taken Mr Bacanhim’s ID or national insurance number to deduct tax and national insurance.

It also accepted the stress of the situation may have had a ‘substantial adverse effect' on Mr Bacanhim’s health.

Accountant Tahir Ahmed, who represented El Toro’s former owners throughout the legal battle, said the tribunal’s findings were ‘unjust’ and head chef Mr Ahmed ‘would’ve loved if he never hired [Mr Bacanhim]’.

‘He was short of staff,’ he said.

‘What he should’ve done was not let him work without giving his full details.’

On the lack of contracts for staff, he added: ‘In that industry, not everyone needs a contract of employment. It is not illegal.’

He denied allegations there was no payroll at El Toro, but said Mr Bacanhim was not on it because he failed to provide his own details when he started his job – something he denies.

Mr Ahmed said the restaurant’s former owners, who traded as El Toro Southsea Ltd and were involved in the tribunal, gave up the business in February because it was ‘loss-making'. The restaurant is now under new ownership.