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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50191
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I have been elected to represent betting shop managers in London

who work for BETFRED. A... Show More
who work for BETFRED. A Company owned by Fred done.The proposal is to give London based managers the same rate as outer-London with only 75p London weighting allowance to compensate. The grades of pay are less than many managers are earning in London, the shops are predominantly staffed by Asian people who rent property. Already staff are moving to Leicester where they can rent for half the amount in London. Can the Company force staff to sign a contract which has no benignity to that person?
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Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. So is the company currently in a consultation process with the employees over these proposed changes?

Customer: Yes, a 45 day consultation process starting 25 November.
Customer: What is your answer? Can they do this legally?
Ben Jones :

Just getting my answer ready

Customer: Ok
Ben Jones :

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.


If the changes are introduced without the employee's consent, then the following options are available:


1. Start working on the new terms but making it clear in writing that you are working ‘under protest’. This means that you do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do so. In the meantime you should try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance.


2. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., you may wish to consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. The resignation must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give the impression that the changes had been accepted. The claim must be submitted in an employment tribunal within 3 months of resigning and is subject to you having at least 2 years' continuous service. You would then seek compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the employer's actions.


3. If the employment is terminated and the employer offers re-engagement on the new terms that could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, 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 survive. If no such reason exists, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The same time limit of 3 months to claim and the requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply.


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 to change any term, so as to evade the general rule that changes must be mutually agreed, courts will rarely enforce such clauses. Nothing but the clearest language will be sufficient to create such a right and the situation must warrant it. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will still be subject to the requirement of the employer to act reasonably and can be challenged as above.


Customer: Thank you for the facts, in your position do you find that Companies in the present economic climate are changing employees contracts to save money?
Ben Jones :

yes it happens rather often and it can be a justifiable reason - we all know that many companies need to make changes to remain competitive and even to survive so cost cutting exercises have been the norm

Ben Jones :

Obviously it should be a genuine need to do this

Customer: Yes, and yet it appears a very successful Company,with only London managers wages being lowered to £7 rising to£9. Seems very low deal with thousands of £s turnover weekly.
Ben Jones :

During the consultation the employer should make it clear why these changes are needed, but in the end, whatever the reasons, the affected employees' rights will be as described above

Customer: Thankyou, and goodbye regards Steve.
Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and all the best