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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47340
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My wife received a letter that stated that it had been mutually

Resolved Question:

My wife received a letter that stated that it had been mutually agreed to increase her hours and pay. However when she visited her HR dept to accept the offer and was duly advised that the letter was one of error and was not going to be honored.

The letter states new hours, salary that the role reflects her new role and a date of effect (1st Feb) and is signed by HR.
Does she have a case to challenge their decision to rescind the offer?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Was this letter sent as a follow up to a meeting where they had agreed these changes?

Customer:

There was a passing conversation between her and her boss but no formal meeting consultation prior to this letter

Customer:

There though had been an ongoing review of roles in her department so the change in salary, JD and salary was expected

Ben Jones :

How long has she worked there for?

Customer:

5 years

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Customer:

I need to pick up son from school but can answer by e mail and send a copy of letter if that helps.

Ben Jones :

you can attach the letter here using the paperclip icon on the toolbar. I will delay my response until then, I am around all evening so no rush

Customer:

I tried that but only seems to ask for a url

Ben Jones :

Where it says image URL, on the right side there should be a small box where you can choose the file from your PC

Customer: Thanks. I am on the move so will send over as soon as I am back. Thanks
Ben Jones :

No problem, thanks

Customer:

Full Size Image

Customer:

Apologies for late reply. I look forward to hearing from you when you have had a chance to review.

Ben Jones :

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX seen the letter. The reality is that even if such correspondence was issued, if it was done through genuine error, the employer can retract it and it would not be legally binding. The thing is that errors do occur and of a party makes a genuine error, they should not be bound by it if it is corrected early enough and there have been no further indications that their intensions were actually genuine.


 


In this case, she was issued with the letter (allegedly in error) and as soon as she tried to confirm her acceptance, they clarified that it was sent out in error. This is probably one of the earliest opportunities they had to advise her that there was something wrong. Had they accepted her confirmation, started paying her the new salary and continued this for some time, then their argument that this was an error would have been harder to pursue, but at this early stage where the offer was not even accepted, they would be in a relatively strong position to retract this, especially if done in error.


 


Also there was no formal meeting where the changes were confirmed and which would have given her a slightly better argument – all was done informally and in passing conversations, not exactly solid evidence that she can fully rely on.


 


It does not stop her from complaining about this and raising the issues with management – whether they would do nothing, try to apologise or offer to compromise on an offer is anyone’s guess but that is what she can do if necessary.

Customer:

Thanks. She has raised a grievance regarding this which resulted in a brief chat and no further correspondence, surely they should follow a defined path when addressing any grievance. She says they were and are very dismissive about their error along the line "you cant hold us to this"

Customer:

Very poor.

Ben Jones :

Yes they have a duty to follow a formal grievance procedure, where they hold a grievance hearing, investigate the complaints then reach a formal decision, allowing her to appeal if necessary. The ACAS Code is what defines the procedures that an employer should follow in grievance situations :


www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/k/b/Acas_Code_of_Practice_1_on_disciplinary_and_grievance_procedures-accessible-version-Jul-2012.pdf


 

Ben Jones :

That apart, if a grievance does not succeed then she is really looking at the following as her only available options:

1. Resignation and a claim for constructive dismissal, which can be difficult and is risky as she is giving up her job
2 Claim for breach of contract to seek compensation for the difference in pay. She will have to show to a court that a legally binding contract had been created and as discussed above there are factors that the employer can use to defend this, so again no guarantee she will be successful

Customer: Thanks . This is what I needed.
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