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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49868
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I was employed in November 2012. During the interviews, it

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I was employed in November 2012. During the interviews, it was clearly stated that there would be no problem working from home on an ad hoc basis which, once I had my laptop, I started to do regularly. My job needs a quiet environment and the number of days I worked at home increased as the office is VERY noisy. In February of this year, our division formed a separate sub company of the main group (without new contracts). In the new setup, in April, we were informed that home working would no longer be possible on any regular basis. This was enforced in the second week of May.
As is my right, I applied for full work from home status or a switch to part time, 3 days a week. I wanted to be flexible for my employer and felt that either situation would be better than 5 days a week commuting to a noisy office. My request was flatly denied.
It is my intention to find another job as soon as I can, but I am a 59 year old woman with very specialist skills and this will not be easy. Had I known that this change would occur, I would not have taken the job, but sought another at the time. During my time here, at peak periods of pressure, I have worked extra hours, from home, without complaint and have always attended meetings in the office when possible.
I feel that, as the oldest person in the new company, I am being forced into this situation unfairly. Do I have any grounds for complaint?
Age: 59
Employed since 11/12
Job: Technical Author (software)
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Do you actually think your age has anything to do with this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have no way of knowing if my age affects this, but the new company has young employees in average age. I am probably the oldest my as much as 15 years, maybe more. I could not accuse them of this as it would be far too deniable although I suspect it may be the case.

The key here is whether working from home was ever something which could be deemed to form part of your contract or if it was simply a perk which was left at the employer’s discretion. The fact you have done this continuously since you started could give rise to an argument that it has become an implied contractual term, although only a tribunal/court can decide if that was the case. I do not see any evidence you could use that your age was a factor behind their decision so that argument would be rather weak in the circumstances.
Assuming this was an implied contractual term, then removing it 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.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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