Former gym staff ‘angry and resentful’ after months chasing missing wages
- Credit: Archant
A gym apprentice has claimed his employer failed to pay his wages in full, leaving him broke and living at the YMCA.
Ryan Jay, 20, is one of four former staff at Attain and Sustain in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, who allege the gym regularly underpaid wages, deducted too much tax and failed to provide pay slips, as required.
Staff said it left them feeling, stressed, angry and worthless.
Mr Jay, who grew up in care, has been unable to complete his apprenticeship and fears his career has been badly affected.
Mum-of-five Tiffany Scott-Hyde, 34, who worked as the gym's café manager, was also angered after struggling through Christmas, chasing, she claims, £1,365 in missing wages.
Gym owner James Dale admitted financial challenges in the early stages of the business, particularly involving the café, led to delays and shortfalls in paying wages.
He said staff were kept updated about their wages and he was working hard to get the café right to "offer everyone in the local area an amenity to be proud of." He has written to Mrs Scott-Hyde confirming the amount of the missing wages, which he said he wanted to pay as soon as possible.
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Mrs Scott-Hyde, who worked at the gym from September-December, claims she was owed around £2,000 when she quit - and despite a recent payment is still short.
The mum, from Nedging Tye, north-west of Ipswich, said the missing wages had a big impact on her and her family, particularly over Christmas.
"This whole episode has given me terrible anxiety and has been horrendous on my family," she said. "It's been so stressful but I felt I needed to keep fighting for this money, because it's my children's money, so that I can buy their clothes, put food on the table and keep electricity running. I'm glad the gym plans to pay what it still owes and then we can all put this behind us."
Mr Jay had been taking a personal training qualification at Suffolk New College when he heard about a placement at Attain and Sustain, starting work soon after the gym opened in July.
Despite a slow start, Mr Jay said he enjoyed the work and friendly atmosphere. "It seemed it was going to be a nice family-run type place and it felt genuinely good to be part of it," he said.
Within weeks, however, Mr Jay said colleagues warned him the business was not making enough money to pay staff.
Having been owed wages from previous jobs, Mr Jay sought assurances he would be paid on time.
But his concerns worsened when July's payday passed with no wages.
As an apprentice, Mr Jay was only entitled to £3.90p/h, but said he was relying on wages being paid in full and on time.
After quizzing Mr Dale, he said money was transferred the next day with deductions for tax and National Insurance.
Mr Jay claimed he did not receive his August wages in full until October and there were also delays in September. By the end of November, he was fed up of not being paid on time and left.
"The way the gym was communicating with me just made me think 'do I really need this in my life?'" he said.
Mr Jay contacted his personal advisor, which Suffolk County Council provides care leavers, to help claim his wages.
After emails and phone calls some of Mr Jay's wages were paid.
Mr Jay said he had been hoping to rent a room with his wages but has moved into the YMCA.
He has been unable to complete his apprenticeship - and doubts he will retake it due to costs. He is now looking for work and claiming Universal Credit.
"I feel extremely resentful," he said. "Because of everything that's happened in my life, I find it very easy to become angry and feel let down. So when something like this happens, it really does affect me. I'm left wondering why someone would to this to me."
Two other staff members also claimed to have left over late payment of wages.
One, who worked part time in the cafe from September to December, said she was were never given set hours or payslips, despite requests.
After she was told there might not be any shifts for a fortnight, she left - but said it took two more months to receive any money.
She said: "I'm fed up of people walking all over me and then treating me like it's a favour."
Another staff member, who was chasing his wages for a week's work from July until January, said he was only paid after threatening legal action.
'We're working hard to get it right'
The gym, which was opened last July at a business centre in Great Blakenham, has admitted problems paying wages.
Business owner James Dale said: "As with any new business, especially if you're not one of the big players or fortunate enough to have a big financial backing, things can be challenging early on.
"The cafe side of the business has been met with several difficulties that have caused delays and shortfalls in paying wages.
"Staff have always been kept updated with regards to their wages and paid at the very earliest opportunity.
"We're working really hard to get the cafe right so we can offer everyone in the local area an amenity to be proud of."
Mr Dale also responded to the claims that payslips had not been provided, saying it was because staff had not given him the relevant tax information.
Staff have shown messages, telling Mr Dale the details had been sent.
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