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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49826
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ben, I have a company car (BMW 320) deemed to be grade

Customer Question

Hi Ben,
I have a company car (BMW 320) deemed to be grade E and stated as such in my contract. This is due renewal and I have been told I am getting a VW Golf (grade F). No consultation, no choice. Any idea of my options?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?
JACUSTOMER-1v0n59pz- :

13 years, but only 8 months in present post.

Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Are you entitled to a car allowance should you choose not to have a car? If so is there a difference between the grades on offer?

JACUSTOMER-1v0n59pz- :

I have been told that car allowance is not allowed for Grade F

JACUSTOMER-1v0n59pz- :

Not available for grade F but is available for grade E - I suspect that is why they have offered me grade F car (VW Golf) as they have several cars in pool due to people leaving recently and want to offload these. I actually want to take the car allowance rather that have car for Tax reasons.

Ben Jones :

Strictly speaking this would amount to a change to your contractual terms and conditions. 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.

So there are ways of challenging this but it really depends on how far you wish to take it. The first option may be the most sensible one, where you work under protest whilst going through the grievance process to try and resolve this. Whether you consider it worth leaving your job over this is something for you to decide bit the option is there should you want it, although it is not an easy claim so beware of the risks.

I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you

JACUSTOMER-1v0n59pz- :

Many thanks Ben,

JACUSTOMER-1v0n59pz- :

Hi Ben,Much as I thought, but good to get a professional slant on it.

JACUSTOMER-1v0n59pz- :

I suspect that I will opt for option one, but in the highly unlikely event I go for option 2, what are my chances in percentage terms of winning. (Your best guess)

Ben Jones :

we are not really allowed to give you any prospects of success because we have very little information and we have not conducted a formal case analysis so there is really insufficient information to even consider the percentage of success. Even after a formal and detailed case analysis a solicitor is unlikely to give you a percentage of success higher than maybe 60 due to the inherent risks of litigation and because you never know what defence the employer may be able to bring. Hope you understand

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? I just need to know whether you need further help or if I can close the question? Thank you