I was recently invited by Le Lude PR consultant Ann Ferreira to visit the Le Lude Cap Classique Cellar, and to enjoy lunch with her and cellarmaster Paul Gerber at the Orangerie Restaurant. Le Lude is the first cellar in our country to produce Agrafe Cap Classique, fermenting its wine under cork instead of crown cap. Continue reading →
Your walk-out from our employment at Whale Cottage Camps Bay twelve days ago without resignation, on the day that you saw the salary in your bank account, is the worst blow to any employer, especially given the good relationship we enjoyed in the eight months in which you worked for us. We appointed you when your previous employment at the White Lodge Guest House in Constantia had run out (they are shocked at your claim that they reneged on a contract, as there was none) due to the severity of the recession last winter. We took a chance on you, despite the financial pressure on our business at that time, and you were an excellent receptionist, with the potential to grow into the rest of your job description of Manager.
As you left without notice, despite our meeting appointment for the day of your sudden departure, we have chosen to communicate to you via this blogpost how we view your behaviour, not deserved given how well we looked after you, with a salary increase after six months, giving you three days off to attend a family wedding in Queenstown when we were fully booked and couldn’t spare you but found a locum for you, and regular invitations to you, your family, and your boyfriend to the theatre and restaurants. You regularly expressed to us and to others how much you enjoyed your job. In retrospect, little signs of a recent change in your behaviour – your breaking of our rules, taking an afternoon off when we had guests checking in, wanting to delegate your duties to two unreliable housekeepers while you went to the wedding, and more – were evident.
You can imagine our shock when a guest house colleague in Camps Bay called a week prior to your walk-out to tell us that he had received your application for a job, as must have most hotels in Cape Town, and in which you dishonestly called yourself our ‘General Manager’. When you sent out your CV to more than 100 hotels last winter, no one except ourselves responded. We appointed you immediately. At no time did you express any dissatisfaction or desire to grow your spectrum of tasks, which we would have happily delegated to you. On the day before your departure you asked me for copies of your salary slips, and lied as to the reason why you needed them. We had thought that you were the most honest staff member until that day, and given the information from our guest house colleague, this request was a further confirmation about your job search. We asked someone to call you on the pretense of inviting you to a job interview, and you announced that you had accepted a job that day at a hotel in Claremont.
Given this information, we met with you at the end of that day, and read through the employment contract with you, specifically the clause relating to the calendar month’s notice that you had agreed to, and we confirmed by additional contract in the meeting, which you signed, that your last day of employment would be 30 April, as per the contract. Under pressure and in tears you told us that you were starting at your new employer three days later. We discussed that you had made a mistake in accepting the new job on this date, and that you would have to tell them that you could only start on 1 May, and we even offered to try and find a replacement for you at the end of March to assist you, at our own expense. We highlighted to you your dishonesty in lying to us, and your secretiveness in sending out the application for all hotels to see (not sending the application by blind copy), and in not honouring your employment contract. You told us that the reason for the job search was the pressure from your boyfriend Ian Little, who had to drive you to and back from work every day as you do not drive, due to the increasing cost of the petrol between Plumstead and Camps Bay. We promised to discuss with you the next day how we could enlarge your range of duties, for more pay, to cover the increased petrol costs. You did not even have a letter of resignation to give us, and you promised to contact the new employer about the delay in starting with them. The next morning you saw the salary payment, and dropped to the level of a housekeeper by sending us a text message saying that you had dropped your keys at the guest house and had left our employment (we were fully booked and you left the guest house management to the housekeepers, without even saying goodbye to them), giving yourself the weekend off, and causing chaos at the guest house, the staff bursting into tears when we had to tell them that you had absconded from our employment without notice, resignation, and farewell. Only later that morning you sent an e-mail with a letter of immediate resignation, in breach of your employment contract.
Your parents in Queenstown were devastated to hear about your dishonesty, having seen you as a trustworthy and honest daughter, even though they had seen the negative influence on your behaviour since you moved to Cape Town with your boyfriend. Your father was ready to drive to Cape Town to come and fetch you, but didn’t have enough money for the petrol. Your new boss and co-owner Nicolene Barrow at the 5-star The Andros Boutique Hotel in Claremont was speechless when we called her and told her about your breach of our employment contract, given that you had lied to her in saying that we had given your leaving us our blessing! We are surprised that you moved for a lesser position at the same salary that we were paying, to save a few Rands in petrol. It is shocking that a colleague in the hospitality industry could be so naive and opportunistic to expect the appointment of a new member of staff with two days notice to the previous employer. For a person who moved to Cape Town from Queenstown last year, job hopping after 3 months and then 8 months for two jobs does not look good on your CV.
At 25 years you are relatively young, but we could not believe that you are so naive as to :
* blatantly breach our employment contract and the additional contract which you signed about your date of departure, clearly showing that you have no respect for the law of contract, and have no business ethics and honesty at all, not being trustworthy for any future employer
* expect our co-operation for paperwork from us
* expect any positive future references for any prospective employer, given that we are one of your four hospitality employers
* think that we would not have warned your new employer
* think that we have not shared our experiences with your previous employers White Lodge Guest House, and the Heritage Guest House in Queenstown.
Any prospective employer should know that they are not only appointing you but also your boyfriend, manipulating you in the background. His invitation to connect on Linked-In, to ‘coffee dates’ and dinners, and his other attempts to become my ‘friend’ were totally inappropriate and unwelcome. Even since your departure he is communicating with us, as if he is your manager or representative. We did not appoint him.
Wanting to share the outcome of our subsequent negotiations, in which you admitted the breach of your contract, I called The Andros Boutique Hotel yesterday, and asked to speak to Ms Barrow. Your new colleague Steyn Venter called back aggressively on behalf of Ms Barrow, threatening legal action should your hotel’s name be mentioned in this blogpost. What a shame that we cannot share with her the final outcome of our negotiations with you, which should be of interest to her as your current employer.
You will pay the price of your dishonesty for many years to come, and you probably already regret your selfish and short-sighted action, which has cost you your reputation and a lot of money in paying out our contract, money which could have got you to Camps Bay for a number of years yet!
We are sharing this letter with the hospitality industry, not only as a warning about any potential future employment of you, but also to share with hospitality employers the rights that they have to have their employment contract honoured, even if it is financially after a departure, which we are happy to share with them privately. It is also a reminder to hospitality employers that all staff are legally obliged to give and work out their notice, and there is a moral obligation to do so too, given that no business can operate with a sudden departure of a staff member without a hand-over and the replacement of that staff member, as we all know!
We salute our labour advisor Gerald Jacobs for his excellent advice, and the luck of finding locum Lily Lello, who came to our rescue two days later, allowing us to honour our guest bookings in Franschhoek, and to continue operating our Whale Cottage Camps Bay, both operations which could have been jeopardised by your walk-out.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage