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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 was given a pay cut (8%) 4 years ago by my employer to help

Resolved Question:

I was given a pay cut (8%) 4 years ago by my employer to help with the economic downturn. It was sold to me as a temporary pay cut, which would be reviewed 6 months later and reinstated as soon as possible thereafter. I have a letter explaining this which I had to sign.

Four years on I still haven't had this reinstated, nor have I had any pay rise and yet the workforce in my office has doubled and we have even moved into a new, bigger office.

I have asked and asked what is happening with it and keep getting told that the company are not in a position to reinstate my salary. They are still recruiting and at a very fast and alarming rate.

I don't know what else to do about this issue and feel that it is at least unfair, if not actually illegal. I'm getting nowhere.

Can you please advise on where I stand with this? I live in Scotland, UK
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 ever reviewed as promised?

Customer:

no it was never reviewed

Customer:

I also had my contract revised about 6 months later which was amended with updates to some of the clauses and also detailed my salary at the cut rate. I refused to sign this unless it was amended to the salary I was on before the cut. It was changed and then signed. So I have a contract stating my pre-cut salary dated 6 months after the actual cut itself. I don't know it this helps my case.

Ben Jones :

ok thanks let me get my response ready please

Customer:

Thank you

Ben Jones :

The situation you have found yourself in now is not in itself illegal, especially as your employer had your consent to introduce the pay cut. You may have felt you had no choice but to agree to it but at the time you could have still refused and then would have had to face any potential consequences such as redundancy or a forced cut, which would have been unlawful. But as you agreed to it, it is not unlawful, even if it has carried on to this date. This is especially true if no specific period was given for its duration – it may be 4 years so far but even if it was reinstated after 6 years, it would still have been temporary in nature and not permanent.


 


If it was promised that the cut would be reviewed after 6 months but that did not happen, this is something that should have been challenged at the time, leaving it 3.5 years later would mean that your complaint for the lack of review would not hold much weight now. Nevertheless you are able to challenge the employer’s apparent failure of wishing to deal with this in any way and consider increasing your pay when it is obvious that they are likely to be in a position to do so.


 


The first step in this would be to raise a formal grievance with the employer to lodge a formal complaint about it and request a formal investigation and response, which you can appeal if necessary.


 


If that does not help then you are really only looking at resigning and claiming constructive dismissal as the next option – somewhat drastic as you can imagine but only to be used as a last resort really, for example if you believe that the relationship has completely broken down and you can no longer continue working there as a result. It will unfortunately not compensate you for the money lost through this up to now but would seek to compensate you for any future losses incurred as a result of being forced to leave your job.

Customer:

Thank you for that. It's a lot clearer now. I think there are a lot of us in private practice who just don't know what to do with this kind of thing happening to us and sometimes we get taken advantage of as a result. I wish I had know my options at the time.

Customer:

At least I know that I can challenge it formally now. This reinstatement issue only applies to the office I work in, but I know that in one of our other offices this reinstatement took place 2 years ago. I can't make that known though can I?

Ben Jones :

Known to who, the employer?

Customer:

Yes...we aren't allowed to discuss these things, but we do. That's how I know about it. From another colleague whom I don't wish to get into trouble

Ben Jones :

Well pay secrecy clauses are unlawful so you can mention you know about it but obviously you do not have to name any names

Customer:

They are?

Ben Jones :

well...to an extent, depends on what they are trying to protect, for example they are unlawful if they are trying to prevent discussions about difference in pay based on potential discriminatory grounds.

Customer:

Oh that does exist too....the colleague in question is male whom I introduced him to the company 10 years ago nearly and he was started on 5K more than I was getting at the time for doing exactly the same job. Funny though, as my company publicises an equal opportunities policy on their website which clearly that isn't worth anything

Ben Jones :

You can find out more details here:

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/tools-equal-pay/discussing-pay-with-colleagues/protected-discussions-with-colleagues-and-others-about-pay/

Customer:

Excellent, thank you for giving me that link. I will definitely check that out. I am due to have a meeting next week with my line manager and I would like to bring this up again. I wanted to go in there with better knowledge about the situation and where I stand, with the goal of getting it resolved. To be fair, he doesn't call the shots on that, that's down to others above him. However, he should be reporting back to me about it and he never does. I'm not sure he's even discussing it with anyone. The other office where the reinstatement happened 2 years ago has a line manager who fought for it you see and won. The problem is really at a higher level and I have an ineffective line manager. I am now ready to go to the next level though. Thank you for your prompt reply.

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome, all the best and hope you get to resolve this

Customer:

One other thing, you didn't mention the fact that they had recruited substantially. Can they still get away with it even then? The cut was supposedly to avoid making redundancies and now the office is twice as big. There are 2 additional employees doing the same job as me as there was at the time. The total staff doing the same job has actually doubled.

Ben Jones :

I think I did, maybe it was not made clear:

Nevertheless you are able to challenge the employer’s apparent failure of wishing to deal with this in any way and consider increasing your pay when it is obvious that they are likely to be in a position to do so.

Customer:

Ahhh...sorry, yes! OK, well thank you again for your help, Ben. Much clearer now! I'll leave you to it

Ben Jones :

No problem, have a good weekend

Customer:

You too

Ben Jones :

Thanks

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