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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I run a pre-school nursery and our staff have contracts

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I run a pre-school nursery and our staff have contracts which explain the hours and days they work each week. We believed we were going to have an influx of children after Easter and verbally offered temporary additional hours to all staff, of which two took them.We are now 4 weeks into the Summer term and many of the children did not start. What is my obligation to these staff members, as we need to cancel the extra hours that they are working?My view is that these are non contractual hours, they are temporary above and beyond what they are contracted to work with us, so I should be able to cancel them with immediate effect as there is no work for these staff members to do during these extra hours.However the following is in their contracts:"If there is a reduction in work, we may temporarily reduce your working hours and your pay proportionately on giving four week's notice in writing. Depending on the circumstances you may have a statutory right to a guarantee payment."This does not differentiate between contracted hours and any temporary additional hours that we may agree them to work.What is my employment law position here please?

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

What are you ideally hoping to achieve please?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I would like to understand if I am obliged to provide notice to the employee to reduce these temporary hours - did you receive the word document with the email conversation included?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I am happy to jump on a quick call today if that is easier to explain the situation

Thank you. Sorry I may not be available for calls today, but I did not get a Word document unfortunately, only an excerpt from their contracts

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
OK here is the email I sent yesterday:Hi Kylee
During the management meeting yesterday we reviewed our intake after Easter and the staff rotas. Due to several children not actually starting with us, we no longer need staff to cover the extra sessions through the summer term. This relates to your extra PM session on Mondays. We were trying to fill these spaces with other children on the waiting list but this hasn’t happened so we don’t expect to now until September.
Unfortunately this means that we won’t require you to come in for these sessions any more, as of today. Thanks for supporting us with this, and of course if any further need for additional sessions arises in the future, we will be sure to offer them to you.
Cheers
Danny
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
here is the response from the staff member this morning:hi danny
in relation to your email, i again find this is the 2nd time i have had shifts taken from me with immediate effect.
as per the contract that you have sent it is says that you will give us 4 weeks notice if there is a reduction in work, i have been given 3 days notice. i understand the shifts are temporary but i have made allowances in my wages for these extra shifts. i started the shifts to help and be flexible when asked and even covering shifts coming up to help other members of staff where needed.
i appreciate that the numbers aren't as filled up as much as you needed but i have done these shifts now for 3 weeks.
as per the contract i don't feel that 3 days is sufficient notice.
thanks
kylee
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I would like to know if, as these extra hours were offered verbally, as a temporary measure until the end of term, am I required to provide the employee with the same notice period as is stated in her contract (4 weeks) to stop these extra hours, or not? I would prefer not to, but want to ensure that I am not operating outside of employment law if that is the case.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
This is the response I was proposing to send, but I thought I should seek advice first before sending:Hi KyleeThese shifts have always been temporary and are not part of your contractual arrangement with us, and are therefore not subject to your terms of employment with us.I appreciate that this is short notice but we are not in a position to continue to pay staff beyond the terms of their contracts when they are not required to work.We are grateful to you for stepping up and offering to help. Should any need for additional shifts come up I will of course ensure that you are made aware of this.RegardsDanny

I would ideally need to see the contract in question to see what the wording on the hours is

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Here is the wording regarding hours and pay from the employee contract, if you require the whole contract I am happy to send it:5. Pay & hours of workYour hourly rate of pay will be £7.83 per hour. Your hours of work are as follows:Monday 09.00 to 12.35
Tuesday 09.00 to 14.55 with 20 minutes for lunch
Thursday 09.00 to 12.35
Friday 09.00 to 14.55 with 20 minutes for lunchThis is a total of 19.33 hours per week.You will be paid an additional £16.00 per half term to attend staff meetings.There is a need for you to be flexible and these hours may be changed as required according to our needs. Under these circumstances, where hours need to be changed or additional hours worked, we will give as much notice as possible. You are generally not required to work during school holidays, including half terms.If there is a reduction in work, we may temporarily reduce your working hours and your pay proportionately on giving four week's notice in writing. Depending on the circumstances you may have a statutory right to a guarantee payment.My position is that these additional hours that we asked her to work for the summer term were provided on a temporary basis. I am not sure if they are subject to the terms of her contract or not?

Thank you. The way I read the contract is that there is a ‘core’ number of hours, which in this case is going to be the 19.3 hours mentioned in the contract. These would be the contracted hours of work.

The contract then allows you to either increase or reduce these hours. If you were increasing them, you would be required to give ‘as much notice as possible’ If you were reducing them, that is when the 4 weeks’ notice would apply. However, this reduction should only refer to the contracted hours, not any additional hours they have been asked to work under the above clauses.

You would otherwise be in a position where you need them working 10 extra hours one week due to increased workload, but then have to keep giving them these extra hours for 4 weeks just to bring them back down to their contracted level. Therefore, this 4 week notice period would only apply if you were reducing their core hours, not any additional hours you have asked them to work from time to time.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

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