Dad who worked as translator for GP patients fined £40 for taking sick day
A dad has been fined £40 for taking a sick day off work.
Father-of-four Ben Mbeva, 48, has worked for AA Global since January interpreting for Swahili-speaking patients attending GP appointments in Hull.
As part of his freelance contract, Mr Mbeva is paid £15 per consultation he attends, which can last up to an hour, but is not paid for his travel expenses.
According to Mr Mbeva, he was fined £40 for taking a sick day and was asked for a doctor's note to explain his absence, which he was unable to show.
"There have been constant mess ups with my payments since I started working for AA Global as an interpreter at the beginning of this year," said Mr Mbeva, who has lived in Hull since 2003.
"I've had to call them multiple times to chase up what I'm owed, and there is no set day for when I get paid, making it hard to budget.
"Most recently I was expecting a sum of money for my interpreting, but when it came through it was a lot less than I thought so I contacted them.
"But was told that I had been fined £40 for taking a sick day and missing an assignment, rather than just missing out on my payment of £15.
"I couldn't believe it - they even asked me for a sick note, which I could not provide as I'd only been ill for a day, and you can only get a sick note from a GP when you've been off for more than three days."
After getting the £40 docked, Mr Mbeva says he decided to hand his notice in after claims he was already owed more than £200 for the jobs he has done.
But when he did, the company said they would fine him another £80 for the translation jobs he would be missing. AA Global say the terms were in his contract when he signed it.
"I got really upset and told them if that is the case then I no longer want to work with you, and just asked them to send me the money I'm owed, which is around £200.
"But they then told me that if I handed my notice in and didn't go to the other assignments I had booked in, I would be fined £80 which would be deducted from my final pay packet along with the other penalty."
Now Mr Mbeva says he feels hurt the situation. He originally took the extra job as he needed the money to support his family and supplement his income as a night security guard, for which he gets minimum wage.
"I feel used and disappointed about what's happened - I haven't even been able to make hardly any money when I do get paid as none of my fuel costs are covered, but I at least felt like I was helping ill patients out at the GP who cannot express themselves to enable them to get the right treatment by interpreting.
"This gave me happiness even though I was losing out on money.
"But now to be told that I'm going to be fined for something that isn't even my fault is just terrible and I've been completely defrauded of my money and ripped off.
"My wife only works part-time and I'm on minimum wage in my security job so was really counting on this extra income to get by and support my four children, two of which live with me and are six and two and a half years old.
"Now I don't know where to turn to in order to get the money I'm owed".
AA Global say that they are looking into the complaint made by Mr Mbeva but say he agreed to paying any penalties in his contract.
A spokesman for the company said: "We cannot discuss employment details of individual members of staff but we can confirm that our policy for hourly rates, other payments and any penalties is based on the industry standard and is more generous than many other service providers.
"It is something which we have developed during more than 30 years in business, and which has been agreed and signed by each interpreter, including Mr Mbeva before they are given any appointments.
"We can also confirm that Mr Mbeva has additionally signed and confirmed his agreement to these terms upon completion of his induction training with our company.
"We have more than 14,000 translators and interpreters registered with us and we are always sympathetic to the personal circumstances of the people who work for us and we understand when there’s a genuine reason for not attending work.
"Complaints and concerns are very rare and we always look into them, which is what we will do in this case".