Sacked for Conflict of Interest / Gross misconduct! Can I claim benefits?

Hi all,

I work as an apprentice at a digital marketing company offering seo, PPC and web design (UK)

I discussed with my boss setting up my own personal web design website (different to the seo service I work on in his business) to make money outside of work. He told me to go for it and target a small local area called Ormskirk.

I told him a month later I didn't want to do it any more as I was focusing on learning more about SEO.

However, I was told I'd get a pay raise for 2 months which never came, I got told verbally I'd be promoted twice and never happened. So I wanted more money, so I set up a freelance website offering freelance web design in the area he told me to target.

He then hit me with being disloyal because I didn't tell him about it, told him one thing then did another months later and didn't ask his permission.

Nowhere in my contract is there a no competitor clause or anything to say I can't freelance with my skills. Plus he had previously told me I could do it!

He claimed I would answer phone on company hours if a prospect called but I explained on my website my opening hours are displayed as outside working hours, he said I was lying.

Whilst on holidays, I received a web design enquiry and booked a meeting on company hours. I'd planned to ask him for holidays and if this failed, I would reschedule the meeting with my prospect.

Again, he viewed this as disloyal, even though I never attended the meeting and in light of this, I have offered to take the site down but said I would ideally like to keep it up but that I will remove if it that's what is required for me to stay.

He just kept saying he can't have someone he doesn't trust in his business then sent me home and asked me to consider my position.

Later, he found out about the meeting and phoned me swearing, shouting then I asked whether I was in or out, he hung up.

Tomorrow he wants a meeting at 11am (same time as the prospect meeting was) so I've cancelled that outright at this point and agreed to meet my boss.

I have a feeling he will sack me for setting up a competition business and put it down as either conflict of interest or gross misconduct.

What makes me worry though is that I have a daughter and a pregnant fiance... Will I get benefits like Jobseekers (I'm in UK) ? She is on ESA.

In a way I don't mind losing my job due to the way he spoke to me today, I'd feel horrible going back and will struggle to attend interviews for new roles as he will be strange with holiday requests in fear I'm using them for freelance work.

But if I lose my job, can I claim benefits like JSA?

I understand I've done wrong, but I feel we are both in the wrong here but I'm worried my family will have the worst consequences here.

P.s. I've made no money from the website i built, it's had one enquiry which I've cancelled to attend tomorrow's meeting with my boss.

Im really worried for my family, please help!!



  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
    14.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    In terms of JSA, you can receive benefit unless it is determined that you were sacked for indiscipline or provoked dismissal in order to claim benefit. So if your employer lies about you then you could be in trouble. However, all that you need to tell the Jobcentre (and come to that any possible future employer if you get to interview stage) is that you wanted to set up a business to run in your spare time; you discussed this with your employer and in fact he told you which area to target; however he then lost confidence in you since you were no longer working solely for him. Nothing wrong, and no reason for your benefits to be "sanctioned". Just keep it all short and simple.
  • ohreallyohreally Forumite
    7.5K Posts
    There are implied terms of law that affect all employees. You may have breached your duty of fidelity by competing.

    Also consider duty to maintain trust and confidence.
    Don’t be a can’t, be a can.
  • pebbles88pebbles88 Forumite
    1.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    As part of jsa claims, end of employment action is done, forms go out to the employer for them to confirm why the job ended & if it was due to the employee being sacked or them leaving voluntarily.

    Depending on what they say, you may be contacted for further information. A lot of employers never return the forms.
    Please be nice to all moneysavers!
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  • catz1ctcatz1ct Forumite
    828 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    You will not get JSA if your partner is in receipt of ESA income based. You may be able to do a joint ESA claim though.
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