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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48761
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I am a Finance Manager for the oil and gas sector (for over

Customer Question

I am a Finance Manager for the oil and gas sector (for over 9 years) and yesterday out of the blue my manager called me/emailed me with regards ***** ***** taking a drop in salary or redundancy. She says that a few posts were under review but i have my doubts this is the truth as no one else seems to be worried about anything.2 weeks prior to this i approached my manager with a health issue of mine (possible hysterectomy) and this now seems to be the outcome.I put on the table today at our meeting that the only way i would consider a drop in salary would be if i was made redundant and maybe re-instated with a different contract of employment (different hours/salary etc)Please note i know they have ask our accountants to provide a bookkeeper now to come in and take over my duties.The redundancy is a good package but i think this is bordering on unfair dismissal, is there anything i could do, they are never going to agree to, unfair dismissal, no matter what and i dont have anyone to fight my case. Do I just pack up and go or do i fight this?Yvonne
Submitted: 30 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 29 days ago.

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 29 days ago.

Even if they are genuinely trying to make you redundant they have a duty to offer you suitable alternative employment in order to try and keep you in a job and avoid redundancy. They may have offered you this other job on lower pay as an alternative but if the pay is significantly lower it can easily make it unsuitable, in which case you do not have to accept it and can opt for redundancy instead. If you decide to take redundancy you can still sue them for unfair dismissal if you think that the initial selection for dismissal was unfair. Not only can you pursuer them for unfair dismissal but also for sex discrimination if you believe that the reason for this ‘redundancy’ was the hysterectomy you brought up recently. Whether they agree with the claims is not up to them, in the end a tribunal will decide who is right and who is not. The good thing is that tribunals are now free again so the risks of you pursuing a claim, even without a lawyer, are relatively low. You could potentially make a claim anyway and see how far you can take t and at some point they could consider settling you rather than incurring further costs and expenses fighting it. If you take it to the end then let the tribunal decide if this was a valid claim or not and even if you lost, as mentioned the risks are relatively low as the while process would have been free (assuming you did not use lawyers).

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the steps you need to follow if you had to take this further. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

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Customer: replied 29 days ago.
This sounds great. Please let me know how to take this further. Thanks.
Customer: replied 29 days ago.
By the way Ben just to be clear they never approached me with an alternative salary as yet. They asked me to attend a meeting with ideas on how I could save the company money via my salary. I never gave them any ideas. Just options Of course they might come up with something today but I doubt it.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 29 days ago.

Thank you. So as mentioned, if there is a genuine redundancy situation, the employer has a duty to make a reasonable search for suitable alternative employment (SAE). If such positions exist they must then be offered to those at risk of redundancy. The objective is to avoid having to make someone redundant and keep them in a job.

There are two possible outcomes of this:

· The employee accepts the offer – in this case their employment will continue in the new role and thee would be no redundancy

· The employee rejects the offer – if that happens and the employee expects to still be made redundant, whether they do depends on the suitability of the offer and the reasonableness of their rejection, which I will discuss below.

If the offer is considered suitable and the employee unreasonably rejects it, they will be deemed to have resigned and would not be made redundant or be entitled to a redundancy payment. If the offer is unsuitable and they reasonably reject it, they can still be made redundant and receive redundancy pay.

Reasonableness is based on the subjective reasons the employee has for rejecting it, such as personal circumstances, health, family commitments, etc. Suitability is based on both objective and subjective criteria, with the most common factors that make an offer unsuitable as follows:

· Job content/status – drop in status (even if pay remains unchanged), changes in duties, which do not match the employee’s skills

· Pay and other benefits – significant drop in earnings/benefits (e.g. basic pay, bonuses, overtime, commission, etc)

· Working hours – change in shift pattern, significant extension/reduction of working hours

· Location – new location making it unreasonable to travel to the new place of work

· Job prospects – going from permanent to temporary or fixed-term work

Where an offer of alternative employment has been made and its terms and conditions are different to the employee's current terms, they have the right to a 4-week trial period. This is an opportunity for both employer and employee to determine its suitability. If during the trial period they decide that the job is not suitable they should tell their employer straight away and terminate the trial period. Assuming the above criteria apply and the offer was not suitable and was reasonably rejected, they should still be made redundant from their original job and receive redundancy pay.

If you are eventually made redundant and believe the reasons were discriminatory you can consider making a claim within 3 months of the dismissal taking place.

Before a person can make a claim in the employment tribunal, they would be required to participate in mandatory early conciliation through the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

The purpose of this process is to allow ACAS to mediate between the claimant and respondent to agree on an out of court settlement in order to avoid the need for legal action in tribunal. The respondent does not have to engage in these discussions, or if they do and the talks are unsuccessful, the claimant will be issued with a certificate allowing them to make a claim.

However, if a settlement is reached, the claimant would agree not to proceed with the claim in return for the agreed financial settlement. Other terms can also be agreed as part of the settlement, such as an agreed reference.

To initiate the conciliation procedure ACAS can be contacted online by filling in the following form (https://ec.acas.org.uk/Submission/SingleClaimantPage), or by phone on 0300(###) ###-####

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Could I please ask another question.They tell me that others are in the same situation but I have asked on a couple of occasions to tell me who they are and they say it is confidential and wont give me the details. As I don't see anyone else upset or worried I doubt this is true. Am I entitled to be told and how could I go about getting this information from them.?
Also my salary at the moment is £46k What would you deem as a reasonable salary cut before it effects my redundancy if I refuse? Just on the off chance they come up with figures for me.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

Hi there, you cannot force them to release that information. So even if it is true, the details of the others affected by this can remain confidential.

It is very difficult to say what the cut off point is. That varies on a case by case basis, there is no specific threshold defined by law. Sometimes a cut of 10% can be reasonable assuming all else remains the same. Larger cuts can also be acceptable if other terms are changed positively to counteract this deficit. In the end it also comes down to your personal circumstances and things like how much disposable income you have after you get paid, etc

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Hi Ben
today is the big meeting to see what my fate is. I was wondering one more thing. I know they are planning to outsource my job and I am in the middle of setting up a new 'self employed' business, just to get organised for my future, could they pay me off and then outsource the job to me. I think they did this to a previous employee a while back. He was made redundant then became a contractor for less money.
I am going to put this point across to them today. BTW they never came back to me over the past 2 weeks with any other offer or solution, this is going to be giving today.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Hello, yes it is possible to outsource the work to you as a contractor. The main reason for redundancy is that they need fewer employees to do a particular job. A contractor is not an employee so whilst they may not need you as an employee, they could still retain your services as a contractor

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Hi Ben
That was great information, thank you!
I went to the meeting (2nd & final one) and they had no offers there, just that they could only opt for redundancy. I did offer working as a contractor today (we do use contractors) and they were a bit surprised and said I should have brought this to the table as an option earlier but as the first meeting was a day after being told I was being reviewed for redundancy I never thought of this, and neither did they mention it. They said to put in a quote for my self employed services, which I have done now, but I feel they have already got someone in place as they were taking a note of things needing done for the month end - next week.
At this meeting it became apparent that they have been intercepting my emails as they commented that they had seen a few to my colleague Vicki which shocked me. Vicki had sent a few emails asking how I was and wondered why I was off, I said I was ill with my problem and that was it, I never told her anything about my redundancy, anyway no disciplinary action was taken. Are they allowed to secretively intercept my emails? probably?
What also became apparent was that another member of staff new about my redundancy, as when I went in to see her she said, 'so this is goodbye then, sorry to hear you got paid off'(not by me).Anyway part of the original redundancy was that my Aviva healthcare was to finish at the end of Dec 17 but they said a gesture of goodwill they will run it till end of Feb 18. Could this be classed as a bribe of sorts?That's it all now Ben, do you think its time to involve ACAS or is time to move on?Thank you very much for all your assistance on this matter, it has been a very upsetting time for me.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 19 days ago.

No, this is not a bribe and they have the option to do this if they wanted to. You do not have to accept it. I would say there is no harm in getting ACAS involved, it is free after all and worst case is you end up where you are now