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06th Sep 2021

Housekeeper paid £1.41 an hour and made to sleep in cellar wins payout

Kieran Galpin


The housekeeper was living in the cellar

A housekeeper who was forced to sleep on an armchair in a cellar and paid as little as £1.41 an hour has been awarded £50,000 after she took her boss to court.

Julie Miles, 69, was forced to work 60 hour weeks at the Great Western Hotel in Abergavenny, Wales, and for three years she was not allowed to take a day’s holiday.

While her standard duties were that of cooking and cleaning, a tribunal said she had to cater to her employer, Gary Hesp’s every “beck and call”, and was effectively treated like “as a servant”.

When Miles asked for a holiday, Hesp, 67, reportedly said to her: “We can’t spare you. You worked last year without a day off – you can do it again.”

Miles was forced to live in the laundry room in the basement of the hotel as she had nowhere else to go.

For her average of 60 hour weeks, Miles was paid between £84 and £99.

Hesp deducted £80 a week for accommodation, even though Miles was not provided with a hotel room. Instead, for over a year the pensioner was only provided with an armchair in the basement.

On a daily basis, Miles had to strip beds, wash, dry and iron the bed linen, make the beds with fresh sheets, clean rooms, hoover and mop and clean the toilets in the bar.

The tribunal also acknowledged that Miles was used to keep the hotel running while Hesp was away working as a bathroom salesman.

Though Hesp was married, the tribunal also found that he had sexually harassed Miles and had slid his hand around her waist on more than one occasion.

Employment Judge Laura Jane Howden-Evans said: “From December 2014 onwards, the relationship that existed between (Mrs Miles) and (her employers) was one of master and servant.

“It was only by (her) complying with (their) every instruction, completing work quickly, turning her hand to whatever was necessary to get the rooms ready and more importantly by being at Mr Hesp’s beck and call around the clock, that Mr Hesp was able to keep the hotel ticking over whilst working fulltime in Devon and Cornwall.”

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