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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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My company is restructuring and are proposing to merge the

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My company is restructuring and are proposing to merge the job roles of shop manager and deputy manager into one role. This means that two shop colleagues currently on different grades will work together on the same grade. Currently the manager earns £1100 more per annum than the deputy. Under the new proposal they plan to introduce a pay scale which conveniently starts at the deputy's wage and stops at the managers wage. They are saying that if your current wage falls within this range you will stay on the same salary as now. This means that in most shops the two colleagues will keep the same pay differential as now but be expected to perform the same role with equal acountability. Is this legal?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Has there been any mention of pay being reviewed after a given period?

Please can you also tell me how long you have worked there for? Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The new pay scale will be performance related so in theory I have the opportunity to move up the scale subject to annual performance reviews. However so far there are no details about the process or the increments. I suspect it could take years to reach the top of the scale. I have been with the company for five years.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. From a more basic point of view this is legal in a sense that it is entirely possible to have two people doing he exact same job and getting paid different salaries. Just because you do the same job does not mean you have to get the same pay as everyone else and the only times this would be unlawful if the reasons for the difference are gender-related, such as the big gender pay gap that has traditionally existed in many countries. However, in this case this is not the reason for the differences in pay – it is due to a merger of positions. So if you are remaining on the same level of pay that you were before the changes and your role and responsibilities are not significantly changing, then there is little that can be one to challenge this. Your rights will really become more relevant if there are significant changes to your terms and conditions, say if your pay was substantially reduced or if your job description was significantly amended.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have in the event that there are significant contract changes, 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 is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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.

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.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for making the situation clearer. I think it's fair to say the changes would not be considered significant and my pay remains as now. They have said that those refusing to sign would have their contract terminated & offered re engagement on new terms. I understand that pay doesn't necessarily have to be the same & I will sign the contract but I still find it morally wrong that we will keep the same pay differential as now to do the same job when currently my colleague is my line manager.

I completely understand why you would feel aggrieved at this but this is a moral argument rather than a legal one and sadly the legal position will prevail in these situations