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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48165
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I wish to change the overtime rate employees, which

Resolved Question:

i wish to change the overtime rate for our employees, which is a change in their terms and conditions; can i do it.?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How many employees are affected and what is their range of length of service?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This change will affect all of our employees, it is across the board and the lengths of service vary from 20 years down to 1 year

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
What is the specific change and what are the reasons for it?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We currently pay 1.5 hours (time and a half) for overtime rates beyond thier normal 40 hour week.

We wish to reduce this to 1.25 hours (time and a quarter).

The reason is the current position of the company, reduction in market prices for our goods, and the increased transport costs of our goods in all markets; combined with lower costs of foreign hauliers that affect our processes. e.g... it is now cheaper to use a foreign haulier to take and bring our goods back from the continent that using our own fleet.

We cannot continue as we are; we must reduce our costs; we have to be financially viable in all areas.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ok thanks I will get back to you later today with my full response no need to reply in the meantime thanks
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks,

I am going off site now and will not see your reply until the morning,

many thanks, ***** *****

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello again, 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.
So the first thing you should do is consult with the workforce and outline the proposed changes together with the reasons for it. Explain that the company cannot continue as it currently operates and that if the changes are not introduced it may result in redundancies. Try to get people to agree to it – some may do, some may not. Those that agree you can go ahead and change their contracts by issuing new ones or just a variation to their existing contracts.
Then you can go ahead and change the contracts of those employees who have refused the changes but have less than 2 years’ service. Their contracts can be ended quite easily by simply giving them notice equivalent to what is in their contract to terminate the existing contracts and then you can issue them with the updated contracts. They have no protection against unfair dismissal so cannot challenge this termination.
If the changes for the others are introduced without their consent, then the following options are available to them:
1. Start working on the new terms but making it clear in writing that they are working ‘under protest’. This means that they do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do so. In the meantime they can 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, they 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. They would then seek compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the employer's actions, however it would be subject to the points I will discuss below in the final option.
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. So this could justify your actions or defend any potential claims for constructive dismissal.
So there will always be risks but you could try and minimise them by following the above steps.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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