Cancer patient’s shock after losing job and home
A COUPLE who worked on the same estate for 19 years have been made redundant and told to leave their home within three weeks without any indication of what their severance payment will be.
Simone and Richard Fothergill moved to Glenfeochan Estate 19 years ago to work for owners Hugh and Elizabeth Whittle, who live and work on the estate.
Richard, 53, who worked as the estate manager, says that three weeks ago he was handed papers terminating his contract with a notice to quit their tied house within three weeks.
Simone, 48, who worked for the family as a housekeeper, was also made redundant.
The couple have, to date, no final amount of settlement from the Whittles.
Highly emotional about the need to move his family from their home and into a caravan, Richard said: ‘I have cancer and Crohn’s disease and moving home is not easy.
‘When we were made redundant, we believed we would have three months to pack up and to find somewhere else. But instead all we got was three weeks.
‘I have been off work for about six weeks altogether now but before that I worked on this estate day and night.
‘Both our jobs were also finished at the same time. So we are both unemployed and both homeless, as is our teenage son.
‘We have tried to get onto the ACHA [Argyll Community Housing Association] housing list, but because we are not classed as homeless it is really hard.
‘We also don’t know what our final settlement from the estate will be. We have asked but we have never been given the final figure. We are worried that by moving out we will not get what we are entitled to.
‘By this time in your life we should be settled. You do a good job and you expect to be treated well but it isn’t the case here.’
Richard, who also suffers from asthma, has a damaged spine and other health issues, was told by housing officers that he could have a long wait before getting into permanent accommodation.
He pleaded with his former employers for more time to find a house but he says his words fell on deaf ears. Richard, originally a Yorkshire man who has worked on farm estates all his adult life, added: ‘They won’t even give me a reference. I am too young to feel washed up but that is the way the Whittles are making me and my family feel. Maybe it is time that anyone working on an estate checks their terms and conditions as they could be homeless within three weeks as well.’
Simone said: ‘We are going to make the most of it. But it is a sad place for us at the moment. We won’t have any space to play with our little grand-daughter.
‘It has been really difficult to get help from anywhere. Citizens Advice are so busy, the arbitration service ACAS said it could only give us advice on redundancy, nothing else. And when we spoke to the council we were advised to speak to ACHA, but it can’t offer us a house until we are homeless.’
A lawyer speaking on behalf of Hugh and Elizabeth Whittle said: ‘The written Service Occupancy Agreement entered into between my clients and the Fothergills states that their right to occupy Keeper’s Cottage ceases automatically on the termination of their employment.
‘My clients afforded the Fothergills more than three weeks to vacate the cottage following the termination of their employment. My clients are therefore of the view that they have met their legal and contractual obligations.
‘Standing the fact that the cottage was provided rent-free for the proper performance of the Fothergills’ duties, its rental value is irrelevant to the question of statutory redundancy entitlements.
‘My clients do not wish to make any further comment at this stage.’
Simone and Richard have had to move into a caravan after being told to leave their home of 19 years.