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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50143
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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We have an employee who is contracted for 12 hours per week

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we have an employee who is contracted for 12 hours per week on Weds, Thurs & Fri afternoons. At her request we increased this to 18 hours per week. On Weds and Thurs we she is only taking £25 an hour on average and we are paying her £8 an hour. We believe this is not financially viable for the business and would like to change her hours to Friday, Saturday and Sunday where we take more money. We suspect she may claim unfair dismissal, where do we stand?

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

How long has she worked there for?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
10 years

How long has she been doing been doing the current hours for?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
2 months

Thank you. In the circumstances it would appear that the changes which were introduced 2 months ago had resulted in a permanent change to her contract, unless it was agreed that it was only going to be a temporary measure. In that case, should you wish to change her hours of work again, you would be doing it as a change to her contract of employment.

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.

Assuming she does not accept the changes you may have to consider forcing the changes through, perhaps by terminating her existing contract and offering her a new one with the new hours. It is possible for an employee to try and claim unfair dismissal in this case but 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 avoid financial problems.

So in this case you should be able to justify that the changes were necessary for business reasons as it would not have been financially viable for you to keep her on the existing arrangement.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have should she decide to take things further, 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

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

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

Thank you. If she decided to challenge any potential termination she will have to do this via the employment tribunal.

A new feature in the employment tribunal’s claims process is mandatory early conciliation with ACAS. This requires prospective claimants to notify ACAS and provide details of their intended claim and they would then try to negotiate between the claimant and respondent to seek out of court settlement in order to avoid having to take the claim to the tribunal. It is possible for the parties to refuse to engage in these negotiations, or that they are unsuccessful, in which case they would get permission to proceed with making the claim in the tribunal.

So if you do not wish to negotiate, she can consider making the claim for unfair dismissal. She may never get that far – it costs over £1,000 to pursue that and she could be out off by the financial side. If she does then as mentioned you will have a potential defence to argue the changes were necessary in the circumstances.