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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi, I wonder if someone can give me some initial legal advice

Customer Question

Hi, I wonder if someone can give me some initial legal advice regarding the way that the company I work for is restructuring..? I feel that what they have done, is potentially against the law, but I don't know for sure..
I have been working for a big Japanese games company for 1.5 years. My role started as brand manager in one team, paying £36k. Back in January they fired the brand director whom I worked under. So, I got moved to another team - the brand team, who deal with the branding of videogames. I work on the brand management/marketing of a trading card game which is a very different business model and I didn't really feel it was sensible to move me to this new team instead of to the trading card team. I have several serious grievances about the management I have been under since January. I have been almost ignored on a day to day basis, had my self-confidence significantly lowered to the point of boarder line depression by spiteful non-constructive feedback from my manager and my stress levels have sky-rocketed. Several weeks ago my doctor asked if he needed to sign me off work for stress, but i had too much work to do and my work ethic is too strong to agree to this course of action. However, im not sure any of that is cause for legal action.
What I think could be, is this: A few weeks ago the company made the announcement that they were struggling and need to restructure. I was given a letter which stated my role in the brand team was at risk of redundancy. This was a total shock to me, as it is commonly agreed that the trading card brand I work for is the only side of the business which is actually making money. I do not believe my job to be redundant at all. In fact they have since created a new job title ' Marketing and Events Co-ordinator' back in the Trading Card Team. I have asked for the job spec for this role and although it is called something else, the tasks are almost 95% the same as what I currently do in my brand management role. However, I am being asked to reapply if I want this new position, and the salary is seriously decreased from what I am on. The maximum I can earn in the new role is £32k. I have been a manager for almost 8 years and feel it would be bad for my career to now take a co-ordinator role, and to be paid this much less. Please advise me if this is legal or not.
kind regard
Thea
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

What do you hope to achieve please?

Customer:

hi Ben, I have to tell my company tomorrow if I want to apply for the new role of 'marketing and events coordinator'. its basically the same role as I currently do, but has been given a different name from the one I do. I don't know if its legal for them to have done that..

Customer:

I need some advice on what to do at work tomorrow, basically.

Customer:

I was only told this afternoon that the new role would be paying at least £4k less than the position I do now.. but as far as I can see, its the same role, with some minor changes.

Ben Jones :

OK, thank you, ***** ***** this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46182
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi ben, I have to arrange a meeting tomorrow with hr to discuss whether I will still go for the new role or not. able to give me an idea as to when I can expect your feedback? The approach that I take in the hr meeting will to some degree depend on the legal advice you give me. Thanks, thea.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hi Thea, thanks for your patience. What this may basically amount to is a change to your current contract. There are generally 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, so unfortunately you will not be covered by that.

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 requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply, so again you will not be protected in that event.

In summary, your rights are somewhat limited due to your length of service. You could try and resist the changes by raising this directly with the employer but if they do not agree, then you would either be forced to accept the position to remain in a job, or either resign or be allowed to be dismissed where you will unfortunately not have any rights t take the matter further.

The stress issue would only be relevant if you have suffered seriously from it, to an extent where you have suffered some serious recognised illness, such as clinical depression, or similar. In that event it could be a potential personal injury claim but it does need to be serious enough before you can consider taking it further.

I hope this clarifies your position.

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