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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46146
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My Father, now in s eighties has worked 20 years in a part

Customer Question

Hello, My Father, now in his eighties has worked for over 20 years in a part time position. Recently he's been given a document to say his role is changing to full time (8.15am-17.15) position which will include upskilling for him and will include IT computer keyboard skills. I wondered what his rights are? Although I could train him in the IT, going from an afternoon position to longer than a 9-5 will be too much. I'm just guessing and imagine they want younger people in, possibly want him to resign and maybe avoid paying any redundancy. He's served them well, hardly having any time of sick in all those years. Any advice appreciated. Best regards, Ben
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Hello why are the changes being introduced?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hello, The company has joined with another one and it may be they expect to see an increase in business. The change involves only the part time workers of which there are two, one being my father. He currently does light office duties, such as banking and post. I can only guess the request for additional skills and hours would be so that he could be an all round employee being utilised on reception, letter writing and additional errands / duties.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Hello, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Whilst this could potentially amount to a redundancy situation, he cannot force the employer to accept that or proceed down the redundancy route and pay him redundancy pay. Instead they could try and force the changes through and if he does not like it, he can then resign. By doing so he is able to consider a claim for constructive dismissal, the compensation for which would be similar to what he would have received had he been made redundant.

As fra as his general legal position is concerned, 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.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on constructive dismissal and how he can pursue that further, 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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46146
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.
Hello, Thank you for your advice. Apologies for my delayed reply. I've had several long busy days. You've answered my query perfectly in an easy to understand way. While the aim will be an amicable one it's very good to understand it from a legal perspective. Thanks again, Ben.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 months ago.

Thanks and you are welcome. In terms of the constructive dismissal aspect I mentioned, this could potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:

· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.

A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).

The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away.

If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.

Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.

An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.

Just to make a final, yet important point, that constructive dismissal can be a difficult claim to win as the burden of proof is entirely on the employee to show the required elements of a claim were present. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort.

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