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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47892
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been working as a Trade Finance Clerk for just under

Resolved Question:

I have been working as a Trade Finance Clerk for just under two years. My job description is a long list of tasks that are shared identically and indiscriminately with a second Clerk. This has historically been the departmental setup for over a decade.

In May last year left my counterpart left, and I was asked to cover the workload until a replacement was found. This meant that I wasn't really allowed to take any holiday time (the reason we have counterparts is to cover people being away) and had to work extremely hard over an extended period, logging 60hrs overtime a month. Finding a new staff member supposedly took four months, and the new Clerk was fired after less than 2 months (also I was inadvertently part of the meeting where they decided this, and they waited a week to tell her at a convenient time, which I do not think is right).

I have recently found out that the reason it took so long to hire the new Clerk was that they intended to leave me alone (thereby permanently doubling my workload) and I was never informed nor did I agree to this either informally or formally. Having recently complained about my workload being completely unmanageable, as well as being given new tasks taken from other less busy people, I have learned that they have again decided to limit the staff to just myself, and again did not see fit to inform me, pay me more or renogotiate the terms of my contract.

Further to this, other Clerks of my level work significantly less hard (they all leave at five on the dot), have time to study courses and develop which is encouraged by the Bank, have direct cover so are not pressured not to take leave, and one has been granted flexible hours of 10am-6pm because he cannot get to work on time (this is not an assumption, this is actually the reason) and he cannot do anything past 5pm because of the nature of his job anyway. Some of the other staff are genuinely openly lazy and I feel my work ethic has led to me being taken advantage of and me receiving unequal treatment- they simply could not get away with this situation if another Clerk was in my place.

I have complained that I do not believe the situation is fair or legal as of two months ago and have effectively been working under protest since, until one of the senior managers returns from a sabbatical (soon). The Bank is small and has no real HR Department, and has not bothered to look into any legalities. Based on my research the contract we are offered violates some statutory rights and it is clear they have not been drawn up in a considered and lawful manner.

I would like to know whether the following are legal and if not exactly what laws/rights have been violated:
-Being misled by omission as to the effective restructuring of my department.
-No formal agreement being in place for the latter
-If the above employment issue isn't legal, my right to demand compensation
-The size of my Overtime (signed off by senior management) being unacceptable in the long run (no mention of agreeing this level of work in my contract and no other employees required to do any)
-My right or otherwise to refuse effectively half of my work (given that the practice is that I should be doing half of it)
-any further issues you can see
-advice for options for how to proceed, given I have seen management and the head of the entire bank already and little has changed
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. When exactly did you start working there?
Customer:

July 2012

Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. To answer your specific queries and discuss the legalities of the parts you listed:


 



  1. Being misled by omission as to the effective restructuring of my department.

  2. No formal agreement being in place for the latter


 


The above two would generally be seen as a breach of trust and confidence by the employer, or general unfair treatment, which you are protected against to a degree, but in your case it would be difficult to pursue as a legal claim. This is because the usual way of dealing with such issues is done firstly by raising a grievance (which you certainly can do) and then by resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. However, you cannot make that claim because you need at least 2 years’ continuous service with the employer to do so. As you do not yet have the required service you cannot make the claim. It means you may be forced to leave as a result of these failings but would not be able to challenge the employer over them.


 



  1. If the above employment issue isn't legal, my right to demand compensation


 


You are unfortunately not in a position to demand any compensation for being treated that way or potentially being forced to leave. This is due to you not having the necessary requirements to make a legal claim of constructive dismissal and seek compensation.


 



  1. The size of my Overtime (signed off by senior management) being unacceptable in the long run (no mention of agreeing this level of work in my contract and no other employees required to do any)


 


You can only really be asked to do overtime if your contract allowed it. If no such right exists then you can refuse to do so, especially if it amounts to unreasonably high hours. However, the same issue with the service you have would apply if the employer decided to dismiss you because of this and again you cannot claim for unfair dismissal ion the circumstances. So you can refuse to do the hours, but it could prompt your employer to reconsider your position with the company.


 



  1. My right or otherwise to refuse effectively half of my work (given that the practice is that I should be doing half of it)


 


Yes you may do so – you have a contract that requires you to do a specific job and if that has doubled then that is unreasonable and would be a breach of contract by the employer so you can ask that you just continue that job which you were employed to do – that is not an unreasonable request. Again, the risk of dismissal exists.


 


So in general, your rights to fight this, apart from an internal grievance, would be somewhat limited due to you not having the length of service needed to make a formal claim. You may still try and deal with this internally, through the grievance route or if nothing can be agreed – even considering leaving and trying to negotiate some kind of exit package with the employer.

Customer:

I have no recourse for claiming that I am being discriminated against? Given that similar roles and job ranks get completely different treatment? Basically I read your explanation as me having very few rights because I haven't worked there for two years?
Is "breach of trust and confidence" a legal or ethical issue?

Customer:

I ead hoping for some specific law/sections to advise them of (even if I don't qualify due to having been at work less than 2 years) because they really dont know what theyre doing

Ben Jones :

Discrimination, in a legal sense, only occurs if you are treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic, and these only include gender, age, race, religion, disability, marriage, sexual orientation. So unless you can show that one of these characteristics is the reason for your treatment, then you cannot claim discrimination.

The breach of trust and confidence is a legal issue, but you cannot claim for such a breach unless you have the 2 years' service

Ben Jones :

There is nothing specific in legislation that would cover this, it is not a matter of statute really, this is contract law, which is common law, it is not found in legislation. Also this is not just about chucking acts and legislation at them in the hope they act differently - your rights are as they are and there is only so much you can do in the circumstances, although as mentioned the first step would generally be the grievance route

Customer:

okay thank you for your help

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome

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