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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47415
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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If an organisation wants to restructure and reduce a team of

Customer Question

If an organisation wants to restructure and reduce a team of 2 full time and 4 part time down to 1 full time and 4 part time with reduced hours, reduced salaries and different responsibilities in the job descriptions, but essentially the same jobs under different terms and conditions, what is the process? What can and can't they don't?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

How long has each employee worked there for?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
20 years
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court for the remainder of today so will prepare my advice in a while and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Can't talk I'm in an open plan office
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

No problem at all. I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Escort. Just noticed you asked how long each employee has worked. One full time has 20 years service the other full time has 9. The part time workers have all worked for between 6 and 13 years
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Meant to say sorry not escort. All this is very stressful and just don't know where we all stand
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Many thanks for your patience. The best way is to treat this as a redundancy exercise where they argue that the current jobs no longer exist (part time ones with the current hours) or they no longer require as many employees doing them (the full time roles).

What should happen then is that those employees doing the jobs are placed under consultation and the employer finds a way to determine who remains in the new jobs or is made redundant. This could be by going through a competitive interview process or using a scoring matrix. However, this is really only relevant to the full time jobs where one will be going. With the part time jobs this is less relevant because all employees should remain in a job as the headcount is not reducing.

What the employer is effectively doing is offering you the new jobs as suitable alternative employment and if you believe that it is not suitable you can refuse to accept them and opt for redundancy instead. The employer cannot be forced to make you redundant so if they refuse to, you would have to consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal instead.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow in the event of constructive dismissal, 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

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks Ben. One of the full time workers has this afternoon announced they have a new job so will be leaving. Can the employer force the new terms and conditions on the remaining team?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Well as mentioned above they cannot be forced to keep the original terms or take you redundant so you may have to take matters into your own hands if necessary.

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.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
39;A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence.' Not sure what this means. What sort of thing would be a breach of contract?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

it could be anything that is seen as unfair or unreasonable and that is serious enough to make the employer unable to continue working there, so in your case putting you in a job with reduced hours and reduced pay

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
That's really helpful thank you. Apart from lower pay and a change in hours is a change in work location which would add at least an hour on the start and finish of every day. For me these are not just small changes and will have quite an impact on my life. There are other possibilities in terms of where I work but they have said the job will be based in their new office and they are not flexible on that one. They want a decision by Friday and there's so much to consider. I know my colleagues are feeling the same. It feels like they want to get rid of us. They have said we have to work to the new terms and conditions and job descriptions or consider voluntary redundancy or early retirement. It's hard to know what to do.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Ok so they are at least offering redundancy. A business may need to change the way it works from time to time and that kay mean changing the terms of its employees. As mentioned, no one can force you to work these new terms but in the end you have to decide if you are prepared to and if not then the law proptects you in terms of covering you for redundancy and entitling you to a redundancy payment

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Are thre any questions that I should be asking them to help me decide what to do? What would happen if I carried on working under my current contractual terms and conditions and offered to discuss just changing to some things that they are wanting? Can they dismiss me?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

I suppose you want to ask them if there are any alternatives or room for negotiation in terms of how far they go with the changes. Dismissal should only be an option for them if you refuse to accept the changes and continue working on your current ones

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks. I think that's all for now. None of the options are particularly appealing but at least I'm clearer what I can and can't expect. Than you for your help and patience. Sally
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

You are welcome, all the best

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