How do I go about terminating a self employed stylist 🤔

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Hi everybody hope you're all well in these difficult times.
I co-own a small salon in Birmingham UK where we have 2 self employed therapists and 1 self employed stylist, the stylist took time off to look after her mom back in september and was less than communicative about her return to work, the stylist has mental health issues with paranoid tendencies which makes getting her to see sense more than challenging at times, her clients are hers that she bought with her 5 years ago and she does 3 days a week paying her rent weekly.
We agreed that she would still be required to pay her rent to keep her space secure and we've tried helping out by accomadating her clients till she returns, before Christmas she admitted that she had infact lost her mom but she's so secretive and mistrustful of people she didn't say anything, there are times when her conversation has been awkward towards her clients and ours making her look unstable, I've tried offering her support, help and guidance but to no avail, she thinks she's lucid and at times she really isn't and it can be embarrassing at work, ive been trying to get hold of her to determine if she's intending on returning on the 12th April so we can tell her clients if they get in touch and if she isn't so we can re advertise her position, I've managed to get her to call today and she is obviously not well, ranting and not making sense and not wanting to commit to calling her clients rather leaving it in the lap of the gods, I really don't think she's capable of being at work, I really think she has lost too many clients to make 3 days viable but I really want to try and help but its not easy when she doesn't think there's anything wrong with her, she was telling me about her fear of being shot today if she went out, she's 49 she's lovely but I just can't see her being fit to work, we also need the rent and currently I'm not even sure she can pay it when we return, do I do her a favour and tell her to leave or on the basis she pays her rent keep her position open, I'm at a loss as to what to do, where do I stand morally and legally, we don't have a written contract, we're all a big family really and never felt the need fir written formality, to our detriment or not I guess but there's a level of trust we all have after 15 years 25 in my business partner and my case so help me clarify my dilemma guys.
 

Haircutz

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A valid legal contract exists between you when you made her an offer and she agreed to pay, regardless of whether the terms of the offer were written down.
As you’ve been charging her rent throughout the Lockdown period to keep her chair secure, if you terminate the arrangement before April 12th, then surely you’re in breach of contract and she could sue you?

If you don’t want her to return, I recommend you offer to repay her the rent money in full, plus at least one extra week’s rent to cancel the agreement and see what she says.
 

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She hasn't been in work since Sept and paid rent up to the 1st of December, I've taken no rent since, we've told our renters we can only expect them to pay within a reasonable amount of time once we're open again, during the first lockdown we were generously granted 3 months rent free from our landlord so we paid that good fortune forward and didn't charge any if them rent, second lockdown we agreed half payment but the business still paid rent and i made up the shortfall, we've not yet heard off our landlord, I have emailed a few days ago to inform them that our next due rent period being a quarterly payment and dye 1st March will not be met and can they accept late payment, im awaiting their response, if we get lucky I will pay it forward, its kind of not my main concern though, its her mental health and inability to recognise she has an issue, that coupled with her probably now not having enough clients to make her 3 days worth of work, I don't want to let her go but from a business point of view if she won't tell me if she's even coming back to work and can't afford 3 days , I have a position I could offer someone who would work full time.
Its a moral, social dilemma, and if she can't pay her backdated rent from Dec where do I stand 😏
 

Haircutz

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Your priority as the Business Owner, is to be clear about your legal position before considering other aspects of the situation and making any firm decisions.

Initially, you’re charging her rent for a chair whilst you’re open (normal) and then you’re saying the same rental charge is now due for retaining the chair for future use. Therefore, you’ve unilaterally changed the terms of the agreement but you don’t having anything in writing to prove that she has agreed to these new terms of business.

I think you should get independent legal advice and preferably from someone familiar with the salon chair rental business. If you're not a member of NHBF, maybe consider joining for this year to avail of their legal services or check if your salon insurance offers legal advice services?


Your situation with your Landlord is quite different because presumably, you have a detailed written contract that covers various situations?
 

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I have checked the situation regarding renters paying whist we've been in lockdown on the NHBF site and it states that rent is still payable as with renting a house etc but that an agreed term of repayment should be agreed, ive still paid my house rent !
 

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Haircutz

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I’m gently trying to point out that as you’ve not got a written contract for leasing your chairs, your case is less clear cut, particularly as you’re saying the rent payable is now a retainer. In the case of renting a house or salon, both the Landlord and the Tenant will have signed a detailed written document stating what their rights and responsibilities are, and will have been given copies of the contract.

However, moving on, if you want to start afresh, then maybe you need to give her notice to quit, so that you can advertise the chair in time for re-opening in April?

I think in any event, you really need to sort out written agreements for the self employed staff. You’ve got plenty of time to get this organised before April and it makes life much simpler if you want to ask someone to leave as you can point to a specific clause in the contract that has been broken.
 

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I don't see it as a retainer, I haven't said if you can't pay you can't stay and maybe I should of worded my thread title differently, my concern is her mental health and ability to work in a manner that doesn't put her, us or clients in a position where its uncomfortable as has happened before, when she talks about being followed, watched, stalked amongst other paranoid ramblings, she is a much loved member of our team but if she's not well and will not tell me if she is intending on returning I cannot move forward with either re advertising that space or accomadating her return. If she won't/ can't return under her current terms of three days it's hard to know what to do, she literally was psychotic yesterday, she has been told she's not able to qualify for her furlough as she was off looking after her mom for several months running up to the November lockdown, she was supposed to get in touch to tell me what she was planning to do about returning to work and hasn't, ive tried contacting her with no pressure just to see how she is on numerous occasions and yesterday was the first time she'd responded since I saw her in November! She didn't work any if December and then we had lockdown 3 and as a business owner I need to know what she's intending on doing, some of her clients have been accomadated by us on the understanding its only till she is back, others have just not been in touch, she was loosing clients before due to how she was behaving it was uncomfortable to see how some days she was disturbed, I fear she will end up in a crisis situation where she'll be sectioned.
Am I supposed to just let it go and wait till she just doesn't show up, ever ! She won't contact her clients they've txt her and she doesn't reply to them so we're trying damage limitation by offering them appointments with us, they are her clients and we're trying to keep her business afloat and it's hard to know what to do fir the best, we will need the income from a rent a chair when we reopen and currently I don't know if she can fulfil that role.
 

Kyralouise

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I don't suppose you know any of her family? I can't help in a business sense, but the behaviours you've described are extremely similar to an ex-colleague of mine. She would disappear for days, suddenly walk out of work unexpected, she would call me in the evening rambling about all sorts of nonsense and then forget all about it the next day. In the end, our boss contacted our nearest mental health institute, who said they could only come out to help her if her family contacted them, which they did. She did get some help in hospital luckily, and has been doing well ever since. Perhaps you could get her some support before you resort to firing her?
 

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She's very private and in the 5 or 6 years she's been with us we know very little about her past, her long standing clients will tell of how bad she became after loosing her dad, this was about 10 years ago, at the time she had a partner and her behaviour broke up their relationship and she's not had another since, her mom passed in November and her brother we know lives in France, her mom has an elderly sister still living but other than that she never speaks of any family and the few " friends " we've met seem to all be a bit like her, possibly a little unstable, reading between things we think she may of had some mental health intervention, any talk of her getting help is met with resistance and denial that anything is wrong. I've offered many times to go with her should she want to go to the doctors and we've tried rational conversation and to no avail, she's not ever been physically abusive she's just not thinking straight, she has a real mistrust of one of our assistants which makes things awkward as she will never speak to her since an incident a year or so ago where the assistant was asked to phone for a taxi for her to go home, this was due to the fact she'd stopped driving her car to work because she said she was being followed, the assistant called a cab for her we all left to go home leaving Sarah to wait for her cab and the next day she said she'd waited an hour for the cab, she said the cab people were told a different address and that the cab driver had waited 45 mins at the wrong place, I mean that never happened, I head the call and no cab ever would wait for 45 mins, she blew it all up saying Tammy was a liar and since then unless she absolutely has to she won't speak to Tammy, its all a bit draining and I feel for her, non of us are perfect but if she doesn't see that she needs help or belive she is Ill there's little anyone can do with her.
 

Haircutz

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Ah Ok. I understand now that this is much more problematic for you than simply asking her to leave.

As you’re not her employer, you don’t have a duty of care towards her as an employer might, but you’re obviously concerned for her welfare. If she’s not been receiving help for her mental health during lockdown, I think it’s reasonable to assume that she’s probably still very unwell.

Realistically, you need to put your business and other staff members needs first because it must be unpleasant for the other staff to work in such a dysfunctional atmosphere. You also need to consider your salon reputation too if her clients don’t know when she’s expected to return.

Given her ongoing issues and lack of communication during the last few months, I think you need to start the ball rolling to terminate her position. Maybe start by explaining to her that whilst you sympathise with her loss, her erratic behaviour and lack of timely communications has led you to review the ongoing situation during lockdown. In addition, as she’s refused to co-operate nicely with your other staff members, you now feel that you have no other option but to find someone else to rent your chair.

Sadly, it’s clear that a lot of people who were slightly vulnerable previously are now really struggling with their mental health since the lockdowns, and it’s difficult to know how best to support them. It’s also likely that people like your member of staff will struggle to access the appropriate services given that funding for mental health support was already very stretched before the Pandemic arrived.

There is no easy answer to this dilemma unfortunately and I do feel for you as it’s clear that your care about this poor lady.
 

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If it were me, I'd send her a letter inviting her to contact you, stipulate how and by when (allow at least 14 days), in order to discuss her current renting of the chair.
If you don't hear from her by that deadline, I'd write again, stating that in the circumstances that you have not heard from her in ???? weeks and that she is now £??? in arrears, regrettably if you do not hear from her (allow at least 14 days), you will be left with no alternative other than to terminate the verbal agreement for renting the chair. Re-iterate that you hope it will not come to that and that she makes contact with you.
If you still hear nothing, then i would simply write terminating the contract with immediate effect, making reference to the aforementioned conversation,
In all of your correspondence, i would reiterate that you hope she is ok and that you would like to support her in any way you can.
It's a hard one, but you need to put the survival of your business first as no doubt many other mouths depend on that.
Going forward, ensure all agreements are written and signed by all parties and include a termination clause setting out in what circumstances the contract can be terminated by either party and the process to be followed.
Don't beat yourself up - you can only do so much <3
 

Tumpshy1

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Please take into account that this woman has just lost her mum which quite possibly may have knocked her over the edge. Tread carefully
 

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I have only ever been sympathetic to her, I know roughly where she lives but she never gave us any contact address when asked and as we understand ( a client lives by her ) she is currently not at her home address and no one has seen her for weeks and weeks, she had been staying at her moms and we think she is still there and that we don't know where that is although local.
She didn't tell anyone her mom was terminal and she only told me she had passed several weeks later when I had eventually managed to get her to call me, we went months having to tell her clients we didn't know why or how much longer she would be off for, we know she took her dad's death hard and possibly was the catalyst to her periodically being paranoid and unstable, but if she can't or won't see that she needs help its difficult to know what else to do.
I have just sent her a txt message as I didn't want the same elevated verbal conversation with her as I'd had yesterday so I've txt do she can digest it in her own time, the ball is in her court, I have reached out to her yet again with the offer of support and I've offered her the option of doing less days if it helps I have also stated that as a businesses we cannot be without a rent a chair position and as such we need to work through a way of moving forward to a mutual agreement, I have only ever been reasonable and understanding but as you said there is a bigger picture and financially the situation needs resolving.
Thank you all for your responses, your input is valued.
 

CFBS

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I’d say that you have reached a point where you need professional legal help. Consult a solicitor, explain the situation and they will advise you correctly. Often all it takes is one letter from a solicitor to move the situation on to a conclusion.
I had to do this once and the relief I felt once I’d handed over the problem was great. You don’t realise how much these issues affect your personal life.
Solicitors don’t cost as much as you might think and it is well worth it in the long run.
 

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I think she'd go into meltdown if I sent her a solicitors letter, she's not dealing well with her moms affairs at the moment so I'm trying not to go down that route.
 

CFBS

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I think she'd go into meltdown if I sent her a solicitors letter, she's not dealing well with her moms affairs at the moment so I'm trying not to go down that route.
I appreciate how you are feeling but you have to put your business head on and get some proper advice otherwise you will still be in this situation for years and it will drag your business and yourself down.
Sorry to be harsh but you are not her family, employer or her counsellor.
Time to move things on for everyone, clients and other staff.
 

TheDuchess

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Hi

This is a horribly complex situation. I’m in no way an expert but I do have experience with mental health issues, difficult and disabled staff, firing people legally, contract law etc.

You’re kind of in a no win situation here.

Here is the situation as I understand it
1 you are worried about her mental fragility. You don’t know what to think or do for the best.
2. You want to do the right thing by both of you
3. You need rent and clarity from April 12th
4. Clients are left hanging without an appointment.
5. She’s not a member of staff, she’s a tenant.

1. I think from what you have said that she’s in no fit state to make decisions about her return and you may actually make her more stressed and ill by pressing her for an answer.

2. With the best will in the world, you’re her landlord. By wringing your hands and worrying about her you’re not behaving “reasonably”. She has a right to expect you to behave like a landlord and draw conclusions from her lack of response.

3. If it was me, I’d write off/refund the rent from 1st Jan and look for a new renter. You may want to offer 2 days a week to a new person and review the situation after lock down lifts when you’ll have more clarity about whether she’s returning or not.

4. I’d tell her clients honestly that lock down has been very challenging for her and she’s not been in touch since the start of lockdown 3 and made no arrangements to return. I’d be professional and ask if they would like to book with someone else.

5. The reality of the situation is that clients won’t wait, they’ll book somewhere. If they book in with you then you can pass on a commission if you wish. If you track all her clients carefully, you will be able to measure how much business you have gained and you can offer her compensation. At least that will be something for her, whereas as things stand both of you will be financially disadvantaged as a result of her poor mental health.

If she’s very unwell (and it sounds as though she is) you won’t be helping her by expecting her to run a self employed column, making the decision for her is the kindest thing.

I realise that the legal situation is muddy, and for that reason I personally wouldn’t pay for advice. I’d check and see what free legal advice my professional body or insurer could offer me. I’d not worry too much about the situation I’d focus my attention on rebooking clients and finding a chair renter for 2 days a week.

Essentially if she’s unwell, you’re acting reasonably in ending the arrangement. If she is well, she’s been acting unreasonably. Either way I think you are entitled to assume that she has broken the arrangement with you by not responding to your texts, not confirming her plans and not providing you with contact details other than a phone number which may or may not be active. If she gets in touch at the last minute you can always offer her one day and see how things work out.
 

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A fair summary, I'll give her time to respond and go from there 👍
 

Chriss87

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Be extremely careful in these circumstances, when it comes to mental health it can take an extended amount of time to act.
I've had to investigate and act on several contract terminations where mental health was a factor. As mental health has been mentioned you have a duty of care towards them even though they are self employed. If they have been paying throughout lockdown and haven't breached the contract they have if you were to even suggest termination of the contract and the person in question suffered fruther mental heath issues or it pushed them to act on any thoughts they might be having you could well be found liable.
I have investigated one time where a self employed chef had their contract terminated due to poor time keeping. Turned out his mum had passed away and he had no one he felt he could confide in. He walked out of the business and tried to throw himself under a lorry, was pulled back by 2 other chefs who also ended up going sick with stress after. Not only did it cause considerable extra expense to the business but the chef took legal action as the pub hadn't taken into account his predisclosed mental health condition. (was only by txt to one of the duty managers) this was settled out of court for a substantial amount.
Best way would be to document all attempts to contact the individual, any comments by clients etc and support them with providing them with a phone number (in writing) to a Councillor. When I was liaising with solicitors I was advised that it could take up to 2 years to remove an individual with mental health issues.
If they continue to pay keep the chair open and document any feedback. Just to protect yourself.
 

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