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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48761
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ive been employed by a leading construction company .5

Resolved Question:

Ive been employed by a leading construction company for 9.5 years, the last 4 years as a supervisor. 4 months ago they put me back as an operative as they had no positions available for a supervisor. only in the last 4 weeks they've cut my shift rate to that of an operative from a supervisors rate [ which ive been getting for the last 4 years].I have not agreed to this nor have I signed any contract agreeing to this.I just wanted to know can they [my employer] do this ?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Does your contract say they can do this?
Customer: My contract says they may ask me to carry out other roles but nothing
Customer: O
Customer: I know it says it may ask me to perform other roles
Customer: i know the contract says it may ask me to perform other roles, but it doesn't mention changing rates. I'll have to check it this eve ring and get back to you
Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Even if the contract says that you can be asked to carry out other roles, that is usually only limited to temporary changes, for example if the business requires it for a short period of time or to cover absence or holidays of other employees. It does not just give the employer the right to create a permanent change to your contract.

There are in fact 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.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

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