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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 have a question regarding an employment contract: In terms

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I have a question regarding an employment contract:In terms of the title and function, the contract includes the following clauses, but does not clearly specify duties:1. Job Title
Your corporate title and your job title are Technology Director. Initially you will report to XX YY – Technology Director (functionally and regionally).

18. Changes to your terms of employment
1. a) Without prejudice to clause 18 (b), the Company reserves the right to make reasonable changes to these terms and conditions (including changes to your function and reporting line and changes to the terms set out in the Employee Handbook). Depending on the needs of the Group Companies you may also be required to transfer, or be seconded, to any other Group Company on terms overall no less favorable than the terms of your employment at that time.
2. b) The Company reserves the right to amend the terms of your compensation to reflect changes in applicable legal and/or regulatory requirements, including, but not limited to, remuneration rules and regulatory guidance.Question:
Does change to my “function” as given in clause 18 also mean that I can be demoted from the position of “Technology Director” or would it be considered an unreasonable change?Many thanks,
Hello, I’m Ben, an employment solicitor, and it’s my pleasure to assist you. I may ask for some information first to determine the legal position.

I understand you are wanting clarification on the clause in your contract related to the your employer's right to change your job role and whether this includes demotion. Can I just check if this is a new employment contract or is your existing one being updated?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Hi Ben, thanks for looking into this. This is a new contract.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
I've just received a request to switch to a live phone call. Please let me know if you will be able to answer this question w/o switching. Many thanks, Krzysztof

Hi there Krzysztof. Phone calls are an additional service, which is entirely optional. I am still here to deal with your original query in writing over this chat.

I understand you are wanting clarification on the clause in your contract related to the your employer's right to change your job role and whether this includes demotion. Can I just check if this is a new employment contract or is your existing one being updated?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you for confirming that, Ben. Yes, I'd like a clarification whether the employer has a right to change the job title and whether that includes demotion. This is a new employment contract.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Hi Ben, let me know if you are still going to answer this w/o the additional call. Thanks!

Apologies for the delay; I have only just seen your response. Are you able to upload a copy of the contract on here at all please?

I also want to make you aware that this is not always an instant service, due to various legal engagements I could have and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I will be dealing with your query and will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
No problem, Ben, I understand. My apologies if I was too pushy.The contract contains lots of sensitive data and so I would prefer not to upload it to this service. I'd willing to pay for additional service and take it offline if you could: 1) provide your contact e-mail address at your firm; 2) confirm everything is already protected by the attorney-client confidentiality; 3) confirm the contract would be processed/stored in an appropriate way considering the sensitivity of the information.The contract has 23 pages. Please let me know if £44 extra (as needed for the extra phone call) would be enough for you to look through it and answer the question.Many thanks,
Krzysztof

Hi as we are just a basic chat service and cannot enter into a formal legal arrangement, it would be best if I just proceed on here without the full contract and using the information provided.

Is this a contract for brand-new employment with a company, or are you taking on a new role with the existing employer?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Ok, I understand. The only clauses related to the job role and change of terms of employment are clauses 1 and 18 fully included in the question. I have put "..." to indicate that I have not included the clauses 2-17. Also I have changed the name of my direct reporting line to XX YY. I can include further clauses that you think could be relevant. I'd appreciate your answer, given this context.

Thanks, ***** ***** see my last query above, please?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
This is a brand-new employment contract with a company.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
As given in my first message that contained the question, I have fully included clause "1. Job Title" and "18. Changes to your terms of employment". The contract does not have any clauses which define duties.

Thank you very much for clarifying. It is indeed possible for the title o be changed using that clause and this is especially going to be a potential risk in the first 2 years o your employment. The reason is that you have no legal rights to challenge the employer in that time and they can make these changes even if the contract did not specifically allow it.

A change in title, duties, reporting line, etc and which does not lead to a reduction in pay, can only be pursued through a constructive dismissal claim, where you resign because of it. However, you need 2 years service to b able to make such a claim so what could happen is that the employer makes these changes and you either have to accept them and continue, or resign without being able to make a claim. Similarly, the employer could terminate your existing contract on notice and then implement a new contract with the new terms and the changes they wanted to introduce. Again, you cannot challenge them in that case as you need 2 year service for an unfair dismissal claim too.

So it is all something that could easily happen in he first 2 years but after that such changes would be more difficult to implement and should happen with your consent.

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 7 days ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** the detailed explanation. I'd appreciate if you could clarify the following:1) You mentioned that the employer could make those changes even if the contract did not specifically allow for it. Could you point me at the act and section that defines this?2) I have another question related to the IP clause section in the contract. Should I make another request to have it answered or can I purchase your additional service here.
Thank you,
Krzysztof

Hello again and thank you for your further queries, which I will be more than happy to answer. I appreciate you may not know how UK law works but there is no act or section which allows them to do that. To the contrary – there is no Act or law which prevents them from doing so, which is why they can do it. In the end it is a breach of contract matter but you can only claim for breach of contract if you have suffered losses really and changing your title, without change of pay, is not a loss. The only other way to challenge that is through constructive dismissal which as mentioned you need 2 years service for.

For any IP queries please post a new question on our site, many thanks

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you Ben for the clarification. In this case, I have the last question regarding this matter:
Where does the condition of 2 years in service come from? It was not defined in the contract.
Many thanks

That comes under employment laws, it is the standard qualification period for unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal protection

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you Ben.

You are most welcome and all the best.

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