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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50191
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My wife works garden centre and has been employed by

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My wife works for a garden centre and has been employed by this company for the past 9 years, over that time her contracted working hours have been reduced twice so she now only works 31 hrs a week, just over the last couple of weeks they have been informed by the company that they want to again cut her contracted hours from 31 to 20 hours per week. Obviously this has upset her and all her colleagues , the last time she was put in that position she was told if she did not sign the new contract then there wouldn't be a job for her. She is certain that this is what will happen again, how does she stand in law , is she reqd to sign a new contract and if she chooses not to is she entitled to redundancy ?
Kind Regards
Paul Murray
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Has the company just told her she has to reduce her hours and offered no alternative please.

Customer: Yes they have stated in a letter to all employees that they feel they can better serve the shop floor by reducing all contracted hours of Staff by 33% therefore reducing her contracted hours to 20 per week, although no firm decisions have been taken yet as they have just started the 45 day consultation period. We did however learn from an ex colleague who had to leave after the last round of hours reductions that he forced the issue of Redundancy as they weren't,making the positions redundant just forcing them all to agree to a reduction of hours
Ben Jones :

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in a tribunal today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you this evening. There is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. 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.

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. 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.

She cannot force the employer to make her redundant though - reduction in hours also does not necessarily amount to a redundancy, so if they refuse to consider redundancy she will have to go down the constructive dismissal route potentially if she was to seek some compensation from them.

I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you

Customer: Thanks for the Advice Ben , obviously not good when an Employer has made a habit of this over the past few years but at least we are now more enlightened as to her position .
Customer: Hi Ben
Customer: Hi Ben , thanks for your advice obviously not good when an employer keeps changing contracted hours as it not only impacts on her job security but on other things such as Holiday and pension etc.
Ben Jones :

Hi, yes I understand this is an unwelcome situation so hopefully she now knows her rights better and how to deal with this situation.

Ben Jones :

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