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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 70200
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My company have announced a change to my working territory

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Hi, my company have announced a change to my working territory which is unreasonable, covering Northern Ireland, I live in South Wales. What are my options as I feel unable to accept this change?
JA: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: It was announced via a Webex yesterday, I have had no consultation
JA: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: just employees
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: WIthin my contract it states they are able to make reasonable changes to territory. Until yesterday I was happy in my role and a well preforming employee and don’t have any grievances or disputes to this point. I have been in the company for 2 years

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

When exactly did you start working there please? Please note this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
I started with them on September 3rd 2018.

Thank you. There are occasions when an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. If they wish to do so, there are a few ways, in which they can do it:

· Receive the employee’s consent to the changes.

· Give the employee the required notice to terminate their current contract and re-engage them under a new contract containing the changes.

· Simply force the changes through with no notice or consultation.

The following options are available to employees to challenge these actions:

1. If the employer forces the changes through, the employee can start working on the new terms, then write to the employer making it clear that this is done ‘under protest’. This means that they do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do it as they have no other option. In the meantime, they should try and resolve the issue by raising a formal grievance with the employer. This is only a short-term solution though as the longer someone works under the terms, even under protest, the more likely it is that they will eventually be deemed to have accepted them.

2. If the employer gives notice to terminate the current contract and re-engages the employee under a one, it could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can try and justify their actions if they had a sound business reason for doing so, usually from an urgent financial perspective. If no such reason exists, it is possible to make a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal, subject to having at least 2 years’ continuous service with that employer. This would be on the grounds that there has technically been a dismissal because the original contract was terminated by the employer.

3. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., it is also possible to resign and claim constructive dismissal. The employee must accept the changes and immediately resign in response to them. A claim is again dependent on the employee having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer.

Please see here for some more information about this:

https://www.gov.uk/your-employment-contract-how-it-can-be-changed

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 right to change any term, nothing but the clearest language will be sufficient to enforce such a right. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will also be subject to the requirement of the employer to act fairly and reasonably and be able to show that it was necessary to apply the required changes and that there was no other way to resolve the situation.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
What happens if I don’t consent to the changes as I feel it is completely unworkable or manageable with my personal situation

Then it depends on what the employer does and whether they force the changes through,. If they do, please refer to the relevant part in my advice above on what you can do next, such as constructive dismissal

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
I’m happy to receive a phone call this morning. Thank you

Just a quick clarification on phone calls – the pop-up offering you the chance to request one is automatic and I have no control over it. Therefore, if you request a call back there is no guarantee that I, or anyone else, would be available to fulfil it. At present, due to outside commitments, I cannot take calls but your request is open and visible to all other experts. If someone is available, they will accept it and call you, but if no one is free, then it will remain open until it is accepted or you decide to cancel it. In the meantime, you have already paid for a written response and that is the part I will continue helping you with.