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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45298
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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There, I have been working in local authority housing

Customer Question

Hello there,
I have been working in local authority housing for over 9 years, dealing with homeless and hostels.
The council have changed my job description without consultation and part of it is to end a contract with a security Co. that deals with issues at weekends.
We've been told that we have take this up on a rota at weekends.
I fear for my safety as a single woman.
Is this legal?
Susan
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.
Hello do you mean you are taking on the duties that the security company did?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Yes, although they only did it on weekends and bank holidays. The week nights were undertaken by a 2 colleagues who had this in their job description. It has now been decided to end the security contract and increase the pool of out of hours officers by just adding this on to existing job descriptions but when none of us would ever apply to do a job that included out of hours lone working to respond to emergencies in homeless hostels and to place other homeless people into to emergency rooms in our homeless hostels.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.
First of all this will amount to a change to your contract. There are 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. Secondly, the employer has a duty under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related statutory instruments to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. This includes a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities In addition, under common law an employer owes a duty of care towards its employees, the breach of which can amount to negligence. So if you are likely to be placed at risk they need to make arrangements to try and reduce that, e.g. place another person with you or offer safety measures. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you can take to challenge a forceful change to your contract, 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 I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi Ben, thanks for your reply. I suspected that the local authority was not acting legally however unison and HR have said they have. It's a new structure and they think it's about delivering the service better although it's hard to see that. Two teams have been made into one which I was team leader for one. They have assimilated the other team leader into that post using a 70% rule. In addition they have told 6 staff including me that they have to partake into an out of hours rota which I have discussed previously. We asked during the consultation if we can work in twos however although the councils health and safety advisor agreed this would be better it's has been denied due to cost. I have been given a different role to begin on 6th April however I felt I had to take this otherwise I was being made redundant although the responsibilitys still exist but carried over to a new team leader. I have protected salary for 18 months. Although there has been consultation regarding out of hours it's been obvious that it made no difference as politically it had to come back in house rather than it being carried out by security company. The out of hours is bothering all of us due to our safety. Other authorities use either security or work in pairs. Any comments welcome, thanks
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.
Hello, have there been incidents with safety in the past? Also would be grateful if you could please leave your rating as otherwise I can only provide basic advice, thanks
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45298
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and 5 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Yes staff always feel that there may be an incident, the homeless presentations can be from people with severe mental health, drug/alcohol issues. The security company we use, are very experienced in dealing with conflict,they use ex marine personnel. The new staff are just office based staff, have no experience in this although some basic training is due to take place in April around conflict resolution etc ...
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.
Thank you. Concerning the changes, if these 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. You would then seek compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the employer's actions. 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 time limit of 3 months to claim and the requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply. Finally, it is also worth mentioning that sometimes employment contracts may try to give the employer a general right to make changes to an employee’s contract. As such clauses give the employer the unreserved to change any term, so as to evade the general rule that changes must be mutually agreed, courts will rarely enforce such clauses. Nothing but the clearest language will be sufficient to create such a right and the situation must warrant it. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will still be subject to the requirement of the employer to act reasonably and can be challenged as above. The health and safety issue is something you must try to resolve directly with the employer, this is a matter which can be dealt with under the grievance procedure as well and the more of you that join in the better.

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