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Moral dilemma: How To Sack Old Retainer

(35 Posts)
vegansrock Wed 02-Sep-20 19:10:09

I’m chairperson of our residents association. We have a gardener who is self employed and works 4 hours per week in our communal gardens which costs us £300 per month. He has a lot of health issues and is very slow. He tidies up and uses a leaf blower but cannot do anything heavy. He often doesn’t turn up because his wife is ill/ van broken down/ he is ill etc. We would like to employ some younger more innovative gardeners. However, this means we have to release the old guy, who to be fair, had worked here for 20+years . He is over 60 and to be frank, he is not up to the job. I am tasked with telling him we don’t require his services any more. I do feel sorry for him, but he is not good value for our residents money. Advice as to how I should tell him appreciated.

Charleygirl5 Wed 02-Sep-20 19:15:35

Perhaps say that a couple of residents who are keen gardeners and miss their gardens have offered to take over. Totally untrue but at least it is an easy let out for you.

Missfoodlove Wed 02-Sep-20 19:22:39

He would possibly be delighted to relinquish the role.
I think an honest chat and a big thank you may just do the trick.

GrannySomerset Wed 02-Sep-20 19:22:46

Wouldn’t it be fairer for the committee to put together a list of the tasks they expect to be completed in four hours a week? And to say that they will monitor how things go for the next couple of months? Then, if it is obvious that your gardener can’t cope, you can reasonably suggest parting company with a small payoff to recognise long service. That way your gardener is not just dumped and the committee has a job specification for the next person.

annep1 Wed 02-Sep-20 19:37:21

I think it's better not to lie as he could find out.
Better to just be honest and say you need someone who can do....and name the things he can't do. I would perhaps give him two months notice so that he can adjust to the lower income. There's no easy way really, unfortunately.

sodapop Wed 02-Sep-20 19:40:37

I agree annep1 honesty is the best policy in this case . Two months notice sounds fair.

52bright Wed 02-Sep-20 20:03:43

Two months notice and a nice gift in recognition of his 20 years service might soften the blow. He may well be realizing deep down that he is no longer really up to the job but everybody likes to be appreciated and an appropriate gift might make him see that he has been appreciated over the years he was up to the job.

Oopsminty Wed 02-Sep-20 20:07:34

Oh I feel so bad for him

As a child we had an aged cleaner. She really wasn't up to the job at all. Bad eyesight, bad back, bad knees. So many things just weren't done.

My mother couldn't get rid of her though. Mum ended up doing most of the cleaning herself as she couldn't cope with upsetting her.

Which of course is quite ridiculous and I agree with the other posters

Big thank you, nice gift and a couple of months notice.

Galaxy Wed 02-Sep-20 20:11:15

Have you managed him properly. Have you devised a list of jobs as suggested above. Have you given him feedback on his performance and what your expectations are, if you as a committee havent done this I am afraid you havent really been doing your job properly either.

lemongrove Wed 02-Sep-20 20:12:31

I like the ‘old retainer’ bit 😁it conjures up the image of a doddery old butler staggering in with the port on a tray.

I would do as another poster suggests, draw up a list of jobs that you want to be done, and show it to him, if he objects to doing the work, say that sadly you will have to let him go.
If he says he will do it....give him the opportunity.

janeainsworth Wed 02-Sep-20 20:15:23

vegansrock absolutely do not lie to him. He deserves better than that.
Grannysomerset is quite right - he needs to know what your expectations are and then it’s up to him to decide whether or not to meet them.
It’s not an easy thing to do, but the committee has let things slide and unfortunately you’re the fall guy.

janeainsworth Wed 02-Sep-20 20:19:07

A sympathetic approach might be to say you’ve noticed he seems to be finding the heavy work rather difficult and would it suit him to reduce his hours so that you could pay someone else to do the stuff which he’s avoiding.

trustgone4sure Wed 02-Sep-20 20:23:32

£300 per month for 16 hours work .
OMG ,he knows exactly what he is doing at a slow pace.
Just telling him the club needs to be making money not giving it away.

genie10 Wed 02-Sep-20 20:26:08

janeainsworth I agree completely with this. It's the kindest and fairest option.

Oopsadaisy4 Wed 02-Sep-20 20:28:27

Ummm he’s on nearly £19 an hour! I would wander around with a leaf blower for that money. It’s a pity that you have let him carry on for so long.

As he is an employee I guess you will have to sack him? And give him formal notice, but have you given him written warnings?

You might need to take some advice on this

MerylStreep Wed 02-Sep-20 20:38:08

Old retainer also made me laugh. I'm 74 and I look after a gentlemans garden. I use the hedge strimmer, dig, plant, tie back and nail to the fence any large shrubs that are falling over. I've had to get into the pond to untangle some weeds taking over.

janeainsworth Wed 02-Sep-20 21:14:45

As he is an employee I guess you will have to sack him? And give him formal notice, but have you given him written warnings?

Vegansrock said he is self-em[ployed, so she doesn't have to go through that process.
But common decency dictates that he is treated fairly.
£19 an hour isn't excessive for someone who has no holiday pay, no sick pay, can't work in poor weather, has to fund their own pension etc.
But he does have to be able to do the work.

Oopsadaisy4 Wed 02-Sep-20 21:35:43

Sorry mis read the self employed bit

Jaxjacky Wed 02-Sep-20 21:39:16

I think giving him a list of jobs, that you obviously know he can’t do is prolonging the agony, for all parties. If it were me, I’m sure he’s not daft and knows, two months notice and a gift. Perhaps retain for a short while so he can show a newcomer around, if he takes the notice well?

mokryna Wed 02-Sep-20 22:30:42

We had the same problem in our flats recently, jobs not being done. However, after a meeting saying that some people were not happy how the garden was being kept and what needed to be done, it is now looking a lot better. Your association should meet him and say what is expected and then it is up to him to either admit he can’t manage and stop or he can subcontract the work he can’t manage. It isn’t fair not to give him at least a warning.

BlueBelle Wed 02-Sep-20 22:50:13

To be honest 60 is not old to be doing 4 hours work a week, most men are still working a full week at 65 or more. at nearly £20 an hour he’s on a cushy number Like Merylstreet I do far more than than on my allotment each week and I m a lot older
To me it sounds as if he’s never been given a list of jobs that need doing Can you not list the jobs that need doing and then if he doesn’t come up to scratch you will have ample reason to say bye bye, without having to lie or make up excuses and will also give him the chance to prove himself (if he can )

FarNorth Wed 02-Sep-20 22:58:52

I'm always amazed at people who suggest telling lies as a way out of an awkward situation.
(only one on this thread, tho)

welbeck Thu 03-Sep-20 00:00:36

i'd be surprised if you could get a gardener for much less than £20 an hour.
but i agree with janeainsworth's approach in this case.

NotSpaghetti Thu 03-Sep-20 02:31:40

Self employment has it’s own costs. £18.75 an hour is not unreasonable for someone having to cover all costs (including travel, insurance, tools, waste materials disposal etc). Also, if he’s paid calendar monthly, it’s £17.30 per hour, not £18.75.

vegansrock Thu 03-Sep-20 02:50:54

We wouldn’t object to the payment if we felt he was value for money. But he is extremely slow and does take several tea, fag and chat breaks during his stint. Think a male version of Mrs Overall. Thanks everyone for the advice, I agree honesty is the best and I will suggest to the committee we pay him until Christmas, so giving him a decent notice period.