Thanks for getting back to me. If you have a contracted rate of pay or something has been agreed, even if not in writing, it will have contractually binding effect. So for the employer to try and change it, it would amount to a change to your contractual term and conditions.
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.
In terms of the health and safety issues, a good starting point is to look at The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related statutory instruments, which impose a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. This includes a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities to reduce the potential of health and safety of their workers being affected. In addition, under common law an employer owes a duty of care towards its employees, the breach of which can amount to negligence.
The constructive dismissal route can also be used to challenge this and if necessary a formal report can be made to any regulatory bodies or to the Health and Safety Executive.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on constructive dismissal and how it can apply to you here, 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 is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you