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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50202
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My business like many is facing a slump at the moment. I am

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My business like many is facing a slump at the moment. I am looking to reduce some working hours for 2 members of staff and take these on myself. Can I do this ?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have they worked there for?

Customer: About 3 years
Ben Jones :

do they have contracted hours and do their contracts allow you to reduce their hours?

Customer: They have no written contracts but have been allocated a set amount of hours per week.
Ben Jones :

have they always worked these hours?

Customer: Yes.
Ben Jones :

and what do you wish to reduce to hours from and to?

Customer: One robe reduced by 7 hours and the other by 4 hours.
Customer: that would one from 20 to 13 and the
Customer: The other from14 to 10 hours
Ben Jones :

ok thanks, ***** ***** get my response ready please

Customer: Thanks
Ben Jones :

If these employees have always worked the hours they currently work, then even in the absence of a written contract they could try and argue that these hours were contractual due to the time they have worked them and the consistency in being given the hours. Therefore, any attempt to try and vary these could amount to a change to their contract, which could create some difficulties. It does not mean that you cannot try and reduce these hours, but it would not be without its risks.


The first step would be to try and get the employees’ agreement to this because if you can do so then it would be the simplest solution to this. So I suggest you sit down with them to discuss the situation, advise them of what is needed and the reasons behind that. You can tell them that this is an urgent business need and that if they cannot agree to it them you would have to consider forcing the changes through and it could even result in redundancies where they may end up losing their jobs. Some employees may then agree to the reduction just so they at least remain in a job, rather than face redundancy. If they agree, issue them with a written agreement which they sign, with details of the new hours and whether it is going to be a permanent change which would be reviewed periodically or select a specific period of time over which it would apply.


If no agreement is reached then you would have to consider forcing the changes through. You can do so by terminating their current contracts and re-employing them ion the new ones which have the educed hours. You have to give them a week’s notice for every full year they have worked with you and pay them their normal pay over that time. Once the notice is over you can then advise them that they are being re-employed on the reduced hours. They could try and claim unfair dismissal or breach of contract but it won’t be easy and they will have to pay certain fees so that may put them off. Even if they do, it is possible to try and defend your actions if you can show that there was a genuine need to reduce their hours due to pressing business needs and in order to save the business.

Customer: Many thanks
Ben Jones :

You are welcome

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