Former Codemasters Guildford programmer, Semi Essessi, has spoken out against the firm, stating it imposed long hours without lawful breaks, and threatening former staff members “with bankruptcy” proceedings for not returning wages the firm “mistakenly” paid after shuttering the studio.
Speaking on his blog regarding the matter, Essessi said he was not compensated for working the 400 hours of overtime he clocked during the eight-months leading up to Bodycount’s release. He also claims his duties “exceeded” his “job description significantly” and requests “time off in lieu” for overtime accrued were denied despite verbal assurances.
Essessi said he was promised ToiL verbally, but it was never provided due to the studio’s closure in September; therefore, when he and other staffers were given an extra month’s pay in December, they assumed the funds were compensation for the extra work.
However, according to Essessi, in December he received a notice and voice mail from Codemasters stating the extra money he has been given, which he already spent on bills, was a “mistake” and he needed to pay the funds back within 5 days.
“I had accrued a considerable amount of debt during the year – some of which for the sake of travelling/moving to Guildford for the sake of Codemasters,” he wrote on his blog. “It made sense to use it to wipe a big chunk of that out. I was also in the situation of needing to find a new place to live (expensive) as well as having transitioned between jobs… and it was Christmas.
“I needed legal advice and they were asking me to repay the money faster than I feasibly could get any. In fact they were asking me to pay by bank transfer as well, meaning I would have to make a payment immediately to have any chance of meeting their ridiculous deadline.
“After laying us off, after horribly mistreating us, after cocking up the redundancy procedure and best of all, just before Christmas, they are coming at us aggressively because they made yet another mistake.”
Essessi said he has yet to pay the firm the money back, only because he cannot do it in full at present, and he wants to make sure he is not owed the funds by law in the first place. He said because of this, Codemasters has threatened him with legal action.
Another claim made by the programmer, is that he was never provided with a monthly pay slip “on or before” payday at the firm, which he said was “a small and questionable breach of law”.
In a statement given to Eurogamer on the matter, Codemasters said it “has been, and continues to be “engaging in open dialogue with Semi on the reimbursement of funds paid into his account following an administrative error, as it is entitled to.”
The firm also said that contrary to Essessi’s claim, it has not pursued any legal measures toward him at present.