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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I work for a company CJ Lang who operate around 100 spar convenience

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I work for a company CJ Lang who operate around 100 spar convenience stores in Scotland. There has been a downturn in business and as a result the manageress of the store where I work has been asked to reduce her wage bill by 23 hours a week. Our shop works on a fortnightly rota. We are paid every 4 weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I went into work and was told by the shift supervisor that the manageress had left a post it note of the hours she was going reduce my hours by. 5 hours per week (from an 18 hour contract) I admit, I was not amused as she had other names down that worked more hours than myself, who were having less hours taken off them. During the course of the next two weeks, in trying to talk to the manageress she has made it quite clear, that it is up to her to decide hours etc and she has the final say. I tried to explain, that I felt that the reduction in hours should be fair across the board so to speak, so there was no animosity amongst staff. That I did appreciate the down turn in business. She also informed me that she could revert me back to my original contract of 12 hours a week working three evenings a week. Other members of staff have had their hours increased eg. from 16 hours per week to 30 hours per week and 14 hours per week to 28. I have gone into work tonight ad shown the new rota.
My boss has take 2 hours per week off me, (10% which I have no objection to due to down turn in business) However, a couple of the other staff who work more hours than me, have had less than 10% reduction in their hours with one employee actually having her hours increased plus she has increased another employees hours by 2 over the 2 week rota.. I feel I am being victimised here as I have spoken my mind in trying to be fair for everyone. Why should I have 2 hours per week taken off me, when someone else has had a 1 hour increase and others have not had the same percentage taken off them as me. can you please advise me what should I do. Accept the situation for what it is or question further.
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. How long have you worked there for? Due to the time I am going offline now but will pick this up in the morning, thanks
Customer:

Have worked there since October 2006. Would appreciate an early response. Many thanks.

Ben Jones :

Good morning and thank for your patience. Just one more thing to clarify before I respond – what does your contract say about the employer’s ability to change your hours and do you have guaranteed contracted hours at present?

Customer:

The only contract I have is when I first commenced employment with them in October 2006 which states I was employed for 12 hours per week. My hours have increased to 18 hours per week since then, but no new contract was issued at this time.

Customer:

Thank you for your response. I commenced employment with CH

Customer:

I will get used to this reply system As far as I am aware, we have to be available to work, 5 days out of 7 over the period the shop is open from 7.00a.m - 10.00p.m. 7 days a week, 365 days per week, to cover the opening hours. We have to have at least 1 full day off per week, running from Monday - Sunday. Although, I am not sure, if we as employees have a say in when we actually work, as we were all taken on, on a shift basis to cover when the shop was/is open. My original hours were 12 hours per week. Increased to 18. Others commenced their employment say at 16 hours per week and have had their hors increased to 28.75 per week and they are having 3 hours per week taken off them, whereas I am having 2 hours per week taken off me Hope this answers your question. If not please get back to me

Ben Jones :

Thanks for clarifying. The issue here is what is in your contract and whether your employer is able to make the changes they propose under it. For example, are you guaranteed specific hours under its terms, or are they subject to change as as required by the business needs. Your contract may say 12 hours but if it was previously agreed that you will be working 18 hours and this was consistently applied and meant as a permanent change, then that could overrule your written contract.


 


Assuming that your hours were fixed, then there are a few ways in which an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. These are by:



  • Receiving the employee’s express consent to the changes.

  • Forcefully introducing the changes (called 'unilateral change of contract').

  • Giving the employee notice to terminate their current contract and then offer them immediate re-engagement under a new contract that contains the new terms.


 


If the changes are introduced without the employee's consent, then the following options are available:


 


1. Start working on the new terms but making it clear in writing that you are working ‘under protest’. This means that you do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do so. In the meantime you should try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance.


 


2. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., you may wish to consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. The resignation must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give the impression that the changes had been accepted. The claim must be submitted in an employment tribunal within 3 months of resigning and is subject to you having at least 2 years' continuous service. You would then seek compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the employer's actions.


 


3. If the employment is terminated and the employer offers re-engagement on the new terms that could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can try and justify the dismissal and the changes if they had a sound business reason for doing so. This could be pressing business needs requiring drastic changes for the company to survive. If no such reason exists, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The same time limit of 3 months to claim and the requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply.


 


Finally, it is also worth mentioning that sometimes employment contracts may try to give the employer a general right to make changes to an employee’s contract. As such clauses give the employer the unreserved to change any term, so as to evade the general rule that changes must be mutually agreed, courts will rarely enforce such clauses. Nothing but the clearest language will be sufficient to create such a right and the situation must warrant it. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will still be subject to the requirement of the employer to act reasonably and can be challenged as above.


 

Customer:

Thank you for your reply. You have made the situation a little clearer for me in terms of the contract etc etc Thank you very much for your reply

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46792
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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