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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50140
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I work Garden Centres and have done so for

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I work for Wyevale Garden Centres and have done so for 15 years full time come June, before joining full time I worked casually with the company for five years.
Over the years I have gone above and beyond what is expected of me in my role because of my passion for the company.
Last year there was a management restructure and because my position was no longer seen to be needed I went from being a Stock and Admin Manager to a Customer Service Assistant. This month I was notified my CORE hours would be reduced to 39 to 26hrs a week which is not financially viable to me and there will be three consultation meetings. I suffer badly with anxiety and depression which is well documented at work and I have had counselling sessions organised through the Retail Trust. Currently I am speaking to one of our HR advisors fortnightly and she has requested a report from my GP. I care passionately about the business and only last week because I have remained a key holder even with the change in job title (nothing has changed in my roles and responsibilities really) I stayed until 11:45pm one night with an engineer after being asked at 1pm that afternoon. I am petrified to say No to anything incase it looks like I'm being negative in anyway as I want to remain with the company and hopefully gain a management role again. Several managers have been forced to leave or were made redundant who were good at their jobs.
I've requested my Personnel File but haven't been given a time when it will be available and I'm paying £10 for the copy.
My question is how do I protect myself and keep hold of a job I love?
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Would you still wish to remain in the job even if your hours are reduced?

I want to do everything possible to stay with the company but can not financially stay if I will be reduced to 26hrs. I have applied for a management role at Lechlade a Wyevale Garden Centre which is close by and have also applied for a job on the Integration team. I go above and beyond my 'job role' but can not live on 26 hours when I am on 39hours a week.

Ben Jones :

Hello, here is unfortunately nothing that would guarantee you keep your job and if the employer is looking at reducing hours or staff then they could do so. It just means that you either get redundancy or compensation for unfair dismissal. However, there is nothing that you can use to actually force the employer to keep you or the job.

If they were going down the redundancy route then they would have a duty to try and offer you any suitable alternative employment that may exist at the time in order to try and keep you in a job. You have a duty to consider such offers and can only reject them if they are unsuitable. For example if you were offered a job with lower hours you could refuse it as it is not suitable for you. However it does not prevent the employer from going ahead with the proposed redundancies which is what I mean by saying that you cannot necessarily prevent losing your jib – the law does not work in a way to allow you to keep the nob, rather it deals with compensation should you be unfairly removed from it.

The other angle is I they simply try and change your hours without going for redundancy. 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.

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


Thank you for your reply. It is an awful situation to be in

Ben Jones :

you are welcome and certainly understand your position

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