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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45353
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Can my employer take away my paid lunch time after 5 years

Customer Question

Can my employer take away my paid lunch time after 5 years in lieu of an hourly increase
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Is this arrangement contained in your contract?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I am on a zero hour contract but have worked 4 days a week for the last 4 years . They are wanting to put me on a contract but say that I will loose payment for my lunch hour which will increase my hourly rate
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

You could try and argue that this has become an implied contractual term through custom and practice – basically that the fact it has been consistently applied for all this time has made it a contractual term even if it is not in writing. So if they want to force you to change your terms and conditions it would amount to a change to your contract which you could try and challenge.

However, if they are changing it on the proviso that you are offered a new contract and accept it then this is different – it is not a forced change. They would basically be giving you the opportunity to be employed under a new contract and its terms could be anything they like – you can either accept it and be bound by it, or decline it and continue to be bound by your current terms.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have should they try and force trough the changes, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45353
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
My contract is zero hours and is the standard caregiver contract but I ever have been a caregiver but worked as an administrator, so it states no hours
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
My colleges who work as carers have been given 2 pay rises in the last 6 months and just 2 of the admin staff including myself have been denied a pay rise (we are the only 2 members of staff that have stayed with the company in this time period) is this ok
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

There is no right to be given a pay rise by law, even if others around you are getting them - this is done at the employer's discretion or subject to the terms of your contract.

In terms of the employer trying to force through the changes, 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: replied 8 months ago.
If I wanted to remain on the zero hours contract and have worked 4 days per week for the last 4 years could they reduce my hours and employ someone else to do my work
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Potentially yes because you are on zero hours contract and as such you have no guaranteed hours. Your only comeback would be if you can shoe that the 4 days had become an implied contractual term but that is not always easy and you have to be able to show that they have consistently applied this practice, it was intended that this was to become your contacted working pattern and that it was communicated as such

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