Former golf professional's anxious wait

A FORMER resident golf professional today faces an anxious wait to see if he can take on a Suffolk golf club for unfair dismissal.Nick McNeil appeared at an employment tribunal investigating his claim against Rushmere Golf Club yesterday.

A FORMER resident golf professional today faces an anxious wait to see if he can take on a Suffolk golf club for unfair dismissal.

Nick McNeil appeared at an employment tribunal investigating his claim against Rushmere Golf Club yesterday.

The preliminary hearing was convened to decide whether Mr McNeil, of Sandy Lane, Hoo, was classified as a club employee in the eyes of the law when he was sacked.

If this is established, a full hearing could then take place which would consider Mr McNeil's claim for unfair dismissal against the club. If not, the claim will be struck out.

The tribunal, held in Bury St Edmunds, heard he had been a professional at the club since 1979 and was paid an annual retainer of £9,500. He also ran the shop, although the club maintain this was on a self-employed basis.

In 2001, Mr McNeil was given notice his contract would be terminated. Not representing the club in enough competitions, not using the course enough and not purchasing quality goods to sell in his shop were among the reasons given for this decision.

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But after a petition signed by club members, this was withdrawn in June 2002. A new contract was then offered, which was eventually accepted.

During the next year, due to falling income, Mr McNeil asked the club to pay the wages of his assistant and take on the running of his shop, while employing him as its manager.

The club declined this offer and in June last year Mr McNeil was once again served notice that his contract would be terminated.

This decision was reviewed at a club meeting three months later, but it was eventually voted through that Mr McNeil should be dismissed.

The club argues it was within its rights to terminate Mr McNeil's contract because he was not a registered employee.

The decision on the hearing is expected within the next few weeks.

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