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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49816
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My name is ***** ***** I have a dispute with my employer:

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Hi, my name is ***** ***** I have a dispute with my employer: when I was interviewed (in Oct-Nov 2014), I've discussed my working
hours with the employer, and I was told that I need to spend about 7 hours 30 minutes working in the office. (Since this was and
is a very important paragraph for me, I've explicitly asked questions about it). Initial version of the contract stated the
4. Hours of employment
4.1 The Employee shall carry out his duties between the hours of 8.30am and 5.30pm
and such further hours as may from time to time become necessary in order to
meet the needs of the Company's business.
4.2 the Employee shall not be entitled to receive any additional remuneration for work
done outside his normal hours of work.
4.3 The Employee acknowledges that he has unmeasured working time for the
purposes of Regulation 20 of the Working Time Regulations 1998.
Since in paragraph 4.1 it didn't say anything about 7.5 hours, I've asked them to change the contract if possible, in order to
reflect what they've told me during the interview. So the new version has the following:
4.1 The Employee shall carry out his duties between the hours of 8.30am and 5.30pm
and such further hours as may from time to time become necessary in order to
meet the needs of the Company's business. The Employee may also arrive or
depart up to one hour either side of the above times to optimize their commute due
to transport constraints but are obliged to be available for a minimum of 8 hours
per day, including a one hour lunch break if required.
So now they say that, that working time is 8 hours + lunchtime (up to 1 hour), and my reading of the contract is that it's 8
hours including 1 hour of lunch break. My question is: Is my reading of the contract correct, and I can continue our argument, or
am I wrong and company management is right? If they are, do I have chances of proving that I've been intentionally confused?
Thank you very much.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What have you been working until now?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Ben, thanks for your quick reply. Until now I've been working on a 7h+1h basis (I've started in January 2015) and have been receiving the salary in full (as stated per contract). This discussion started a few days ago because some colleagues started complaining about me spending less time in the office than they do. Their contract doesn't have the same editions as mine (about 8 hours including 1 for lunch).



Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible, although due to the late hour it will not be until tomorrow morning. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Hello Danila, Looking at the updated version of the contract it specifically states that you are expected to work a “minimum of 8 hours per day, including a one hour lunch break if required”. The key word here is ‘including’ because that means that the 8 hours they have mentioned includes the hour lunch break if required. If they wanted to treat the two separate then they should have said something along the lines of “minimum of 8 hours per day, and in addition a one hour lunch break if required”. However the use of the word ‘including’ means that they should treat the lunch break as forming part of the 8 hours mentioned.
So your interpretation of the contract is correct. However, there is one important factor which could allow the employer to enforce their version. If you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, etc.).
What that means is they could give you notice to terminate the current contract and then offer you a new contract with any wording they want. It will terminate the current contract and you are then left to decide whether you want to accept the new contract or if the dismissal would stand. I am not saying they will go that far of course but they are legally able to do it so bear that in mind. In the meantime, you are entirely within your right to maintain your position because your interpretation of the current contract is correct.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Ben, thanks for the elaborated response. Just wanted to clarify one other thing. In my contract, there is a termination of employment secition, which sais that my contract can be ended for no reason only during first 3 monts ( which hava already passed):
13. Termination of employment
The employment of the Employee may be terminated:
13.1 by the Company without notice or payment in lieu of notice if the Employee is guilty
of any gross default or misconduct; in the event of any breach or non-observance
by the Employee of any of the stipulations contained in this agreement which is
materially detrimental to the Company's interest; or if the Employee is convicted of
any criminal conviction or be guilty of any conduct which, in the reasonable opinion
of the Company, may affect the performance of the Employee’s duties under the
agreement or prejudice the interests of the Company.
13.2 by either party upon giving to the other one month’s notice in writing. The only
exception to this is the initial probationary period of three (3) months during which
the Company may terminate this agreement with 1 weeks’ notice.
13.3 The Company may, in its absolute discretion, pay the Employee in lieu of his
13.4 Following service of notice to terminate the employment of the Employee by either
party, or if the Employee purports to terminate the employment of the Employee in
breach of contract, the Company may by written notice place the Employee on
Garden Leave for the whole or part of the remainder of the notice period during
which time the Company may exclude the Employee from any premises of the
Company and the Company shall be under no obligation to provide any work to
the Employee. Any accrued but unused holiday entitlement shall be deemed to be
taken during any period of Garden Leave.

in addition to that, what about a question from my initial query: can I prove them confusing me intentionally and/or can they charge me for working less than they expected?


It does not matter whether the above policy exists - the right to terminate your contract without reason in the first two years is a legal right, so it will be possible even if the contract says it can only happen in the first 3 months.
As to proving they intentionally confused you, how exactly are you going to do that. I am afraid it does not change your position in that they could still terminate the current agreement simply by giving you notice to terminate the contract
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