A friend of mine has been working in the sailing industry. Her employers are the owners of the boats. She has a brief letter stating her role, starting salary, signing on bonus and percentage salary increase after the first year, but nothing else. She has been working for 12 months now with her (now) ex partner. During this time he has verbally and at times physically abused her. They have been alone most of the time (shifting boats around the world) without her employers being present. She has now ended the relationship and is too terrified to stay on the boat with him (he is really losing it at the moment and the police have had to be involved). However she (and this man) were meant to be taking their employers and family on a 2 week holiday on the boat. She won’t go if he will be there. She has been so downtrodden about this that she hasn’t talked to her employers about the problems. He on the other hand has painted a wholly inaccurate picture of the situation. What can she do here? She doesn’t want to lose her job altogether and at the very least she’d need a good reference or else this first role in the industry will have been a waste. Her employers are (in my opinion) liable to her, however, they haven’t got a crystal ball, and she hasn’t discussed the issue with them. I am encouraging her to go and speak with them to see what can be resolved, but where does she stand on this legally with regards to her effectively ‘walking out’ even though her circumstances are exceptional? Is she too late to start a grievance procedure? Any thoughts here are welcome.
Liz Ratcliffe

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