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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45389
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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, I work Local Authority and I am contractually required

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Hi, I work for a Local Authority and I am contractually required to be on call out of hours approximately 13 weeks a year between Friday 5pm until Monday 8:30am, and every weekday night between 5pm and 8:30am the following day.
Previously, I was paid just over £300 a week, but due to cuts, despite my department projecting a large six-figure under spend this year, this payment has reduced to £70 a week. The £70 is derisory, but I am told was agreed with the Union and non-negotiable. Whilst on call out of normal office hours, I am asked to provide a vehicle at my own expense, which must be available at any time for a two-hour response. Due to the reduction in payments, I have refused to make my vehicle available, as this affects the lifestyle of my wife and child, who need the car at nights and weekends.
I am not in a Union and have now been threatened with disciplinary action for refusing to make a vehicle available. I have not refused to go out, merely told them that I will not be using my car and asked for guidance on how I am to attend call outs at any time of day, in any weather conditions and any part of the area safely. The Authority only pays 45p a mile and does not provide an allowance to cover the fact that a car is being made available for their use. I am considered a Casual Car User.
Can anyone tell me if the Authority are right to insist I provide a vehicle please, or can I refuse to provide the Authority with use of my private vehicle out of hours? I am concerned that I am now being threatened with disciplinary action for withholding a vehicle that they do not pay for unless used. If I need to provide a vehicle, I will, but no one has told me whether legally I must or not.
Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?
JACUSTOMER-xmhk73xt- :

17 and a half years

Customer:

Hi Ben. Just wanted over 20 minutes to see if you would respond, but I have to go now. Please email me to let me know when you are back on-line or can answer my question please.

Customer:

Hi Ben. Can you confirm when and if you will be able to finish answering the question please? I have a meeting in the morning with Managers and wanted to have your thoughts beforehand.

Ben Jones :

Apologies for the slight delay, I experienced some temporary connection issues yesterday and could not get back on the site. All seems to be resolved now so I can continue with my advice.

Just before I continue can you please let me know if the provision of a vehicle was a formal requirement in your contract or any related contractual policy?

Customer:

Thanks for getting back to me. The provision in my contact is that I must be able to attend out of hours call outs. This is not in dispute. However, the only way to do so safely is for me to provide a vehicle. To go on public transport, on foot, on a bike for instance would leave me exposed to the elements and potentially, at risk from criminal elements. Therefore, the vehicle provides shelter, warmth and keeps me safe. In addition, public transport in not available at all times and does not serve all areas. Even the use of a taxi is out of the question, as this might have to stay with me 'on-site' for hours and as such, would be too expensive to contemplate.

The need for me to attend call outs at any time is now what is the crux of the matter. The employer states that how I do so, is my responsibility, as I have to be able to get to my place of work and ‘call-outs’ are my place of work, even though this might be anywhere in a quite large geographical area. Therefore, I must have a vehicle (car) at my disposal to do so, as no other form of transport would keep me safe. However, it was my understanding that an employer had a duty of care to keep their employees safe whilst at work, no that we had to do so ourselves!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Ben Jones :

ok thanks I will get my response ready and post it on here shortly

Customer:

Thanks

Ben Jones :

It is true that an employer has a duty to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of workplace dangers and provide a safe working environment to its workers. Of course these requirements will vary from company to company and from role to role so it will be specific to each individual scenario.

In your specific situation it does not mean that the employer will have to provide you with a vehicle if you are unable to find one yourself. In fact this is a bit late to consider now because there should have been a term or policy already dealing with this, or it would have been established over time through custom and practice. If you had always provided your own vehicle for call outs or this was a specific contractual requirement or contained in a relevant policy then it would continue now even if the remuneration details have changed. The issue with reducing the pay is that this was implemented following negotiations and agreement with the unions – even if you were not a member of a union then these changes can be applicable to you. It is not only union members that will be caught out by these, it could be the whole workforce – by not being a member it does not mean you are immune from un ion-negotiated changes, it just means that you have given up on the opportunity to be represented in the negotiations and to have a voice during these negotiations.

So it is a bit of a Catch 22 for you – the changes have been introduced and you are expected to abide by them. You may not have to provide a vehicle specifically to do the call outs but how you attend them is basically up to you. It may be inconvenient for you to rely on other transport but that would not generally be the employer’s issue – they have employed you to attend call outs and you have agreed to work under those conditions – how you attend the call outs would then be up to you, unless there was a specific policy requiring you to use your own vehicle as mentioned above.

You can consider raisin a grievance to try and challenge this or delay any potential action taken by the employer but in the end they could simply say that you are employed to do call outs and leave it for you to make arrangements on how to get there. If you are unable to actually do them then you can be considered incapable of performing your job. That in itself could be something they rely on to take further action but in the meantime they can just discipline you if they believe you are unreasonably complying with your contractual requirements.

Ben Jones :

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

Customer:

bEN

Customer:

Ben

Customer:

Ben. Sorry about that, I hit return and it replyed. Thank you for your response, I suppose it only clarifies what I suspected would be the employers case. We have used our cars for many years, so it has been established that we will do so through custom and practice. I just wanted to know one way or another. No point in fighting something that I cannot win and ruin my unblemished service record. Happy to post positive feedback.

Ben Jones :

you are welcome and understand it may not be what you were hoping for. But you should not be penalised for raising a grievance if you wanted to

Customer:

Thanks again, I might consider the grievance route, but I suppose it depend on what my colleagues do.

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45389
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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