Man ordered to pay ex-girlfriend €12,500 for servicing his shop

Plaintiff had been assisting in confectionary store managed by former boyfriend for ten year, without payment, before they broke up

File photo (Source: 'Vatesyno'/Wikipedia)
File photo (Source: 'Vatesyno'/Wikipedia)

A woman who took her ex-boyfriend to court, demanding payment for the hours which she had worked, unpaid, at his shop, has been awarded €12,500 in compensation.

The plaintiff had been actively assisting the confectionary store managed by her former boyfriend of ten years, for free, before the relationship came to an end.

When the couple split, the woman had turned upon her former partner and claimed compensation for all the services she had rendered at the store, on a daily basis, for around three years. He refused and the matter ended up in court.

The woman had testified how, on every single day of the week, she would be waiting for the milkman and the baker to deliver their goods at the shop at 6.30am, before heading to her full-time job at 8am. She would return to the shop after work and stay on until the outlet closed at around 10pm.

Despite this, she was never remunerated by her ex-boyfriend, she told judge Joseph Zammit Mackeon, adding that she had even taken time-off from her day job to fill in for her ex whenever he had to travel abroad and would accompany him to the Ta’ Qali market where he used to sell fruit and vegetables as a hawker twice a week.

The woman had not registered as an employee at the shop because she loved her full-time job and had didn’t want to give it up.

But when the couple broke up and the man refused to accede to his ex-partner’s request for payment, she was left with no choice but to take the matter to court.

Several witnesses, including employees at neighbouring establishments, customers and relatives of the parties, testified to how the woman would regularly take an active role in helping out at the shop.

The defendant former boyfriend claimed that she would be at the shop for around 3 hours daily, spending a lot of that time making up for the shoddy work performed by her sister, who was also employed at the shop.

He explained to the court that when the two used to go out as a couple, it was always him who would foot the bill. In addition, the woman would help herself to food and cigarettes from his stock, was also offered free meals by his mother and would use his BMW, he said, arguing that this was sufficient compensation for her services.

Mr Justice Zammit McKeon strongly disagreed with this argument, however.

The court noted that the fact that the woman had kept records of the hours she had worked for defendant indicated that she had no intention of working for free or of being paid in kind by her boyfriend.

The judge declared that the woman’s initial claim of having worked 36 hours per week was ‘factually impossible,’ due to her full-time job and set the number of hours at 20.

Noting that this was not a case for unpaid wages filed by an employee against her employer, but one for services rendered, the court declared an hourly rate of €4 would be applied. It calculated the total amount owed to the woman to be €12,500 and ordered the defendant to pay her this sum, together with interest and the costs of the case.

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