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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 70945
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Our company is bullying the whole workforce in to giving up

Customer Question

Our company is bullying the whole workforce in to giving up 5 of our A/L days as they say it is costing them Millions each year. We are now going on strike fighting it which means we will not be paid for the strike days. Can we take it further by law?
JA: Have you discussed this wage-and-hour issue with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: The RMT union are fighting it with the company but they are not letting up hence we are now striking from Tuesday. You are our first legal contact
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: Yes all Employees and all Union members
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I don't think so
Submitted: 15 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Are these 5 days part of an enhanced holiday allowance, over and above your legal minimum entitlement? 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 15 days ago.
No they are part of our annual entitelment given when we joined and part of our contract
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
We feel this a form of Bullying and now we are striking which is costing us 2 days pay as we do not get payed when striking
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Thank you. I meant that by law you are entitled to 28 days annual leave a year if you are a full time employee working 5 days a week. Do you get more than that under contract and they are trying to reduce the extra you get, rather than reducing the minimum you are legally entitled to?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
we get 36 and they are trying to cut it to 30
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Are you there? Do you want to mail me tomorrow?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Thank you very much for clarifying. The removal of these holidays will basically amount to a change to your contract of employment.

There are occasions when an employer may try to 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:

- They can ask for the employee to give their consent to the changes.

- They can rely on a flexibility clause in the contract, allowing for certain changes to be made

- They can give the employee the required notice to terminate their current contract and re-engage them under a new contract, which contains the desired changes.

- They can ignore all of the above and simply force the changes through with no notice or consultation.

Assuming consent is given, the changes can be implemented with a simple variation to the contract or a separate addendum. If the changes are not agreed, based on which method the employer adopts to implement them, the following options are available to employees to challenge such actions:

1. If there is a flexibility clause, it must be precise and allow the specific changes that are proposed. Clear language in the drafting of the clause will be required to allow 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. Consultation is key in these circumstances.

2. If the employer gives the employee notice to terminate their current contract and re-engages them under a new one, it could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can try and justify their actions if they had a solid business reason for doing so, most commonly due urgent financial needs. If no such reasons exist and it appears to have been an opportunistic approach by the employer to implement changes, 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 employer forces the changes through, without any notice or consultation, the employee can start working on the new terms, then immediately write to the employer to make it clear that this is done ‘under protest’. This means that they do not agree with the changes but feel forced to work under them 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. Also, if the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., it is also possible to consider resigning and making a claim constructive dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. 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 that employer.

Please see here for further information about this topic

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 15 days ago.
we that’s all good but would you say that it’s Bullying, the way way they are doing it by trying to force it on us?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 14 days ago.

Hello, thank you for your further queries, I will be happy to answer these. I wouldn’t exactly it is bullying, it is obviously something they want to push through, whilst at the same time you oppose. There is a clear difference in opinion here but that does not, in itself, mean it is bullying. I hope this clarifies things for you a little bit more.