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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70226
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I work for WHsmith our manager has read us a script saying

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I work for WHsmith our manager has read us a script saying that from 1.11.20 we will no longer have a manager on site, we will be lone working and have to be trained to deal with the money and all the duties that a manager would carry out.
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: my manager is being made redundant and they have not actually taken on the cluster manager who will be managing the store remotely yet but he has raised his concerns with the organisation with no answers. We were told that we will receive nothing in writing. I am not prepared to work on my own and feel that they are making me take on more responsibility without any choice. I am not interested in a pay rise. They are trying to dress it up as just changing our duties. In m sorry sent too early. In my contract it states that we can be asked to carryout different duties from time to time within reason. I strongly feel this is not within reason
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am an employee. I have worked for them for over 3 years and been on a permanent contract for 2 of those years. Unfortunately I am not a member of a union
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I don't think so. I feel that Smith's just expect their minimum wage employees to put up with the changes or leave. I have to give 4 weeks notice so want to know what I should do. Also my manager is trying to get me to agree verbally to working hours which apparently will not be very different to what I do now. This is making me feel uncomfortable

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Hi there. Can I just check, is there anything in your contract that allows your employer to designate different tasks to your role?

Customer: replied 6 days ago.
it states that "you may be required to carry out alternative and/or additional duties from time to time within your skill and competence. It is a condition of your employment that you will comply with all reasonable managements requests in this regard
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
my argument is that I feel one this is not from time to time and two they are not reasonable or withing my skill and competence

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Ben Jones and 7 other Law Specialists are ready to help you

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. The clause you have in your contract will probably not cover their proposed changes as this is more of a permanent amendment rather than a request to occasionally take on additional duties.

As far as the proposed changes are concerned and your legal rights around that, there are occasions when an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. If they wish to do so, there are a few ways, in which they can do it:

· Receive the employee’s consent to the changes.

· Give the employee the required notice to terminate their current contract and re-engage them under a new contract containing the changes.

· Simply force the changes through with no notice or consultation.

The following options are available to employees to challenge these actions:

1. If the employer forces the changes through, the employee can start working on the new terms, then write to the employer making it clear that this is done ‘under protest’. This means that they do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do it as they have no other option. In the meantime, they should try and resolve the issue by raising a formal grievance with the employer. This is only a short-term solution though as the longer someone works under the terms, even under protest, the more likely it is that they will eventually be deemed to have accepted them.

2. If the employer gives notice to terminate the current contract and re-engages the employee under a one, it could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can try and justify their actions if they had a sound business reason for doing so, usually from an urgent financial perspective. If no such reason exists, it is possible to make a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal, subject to having at least 2 years’ continuous service with that employer. This would be on the grounds that there has technically been a dismissal because the original contract was terminated by the employer.

3. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., it is also possible to resign and claim constructive dismissal. The employee must accept the changes and immediately resign in response to them. A claim is again dependent on the employee having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer.

Please see here for some more information about this:

https://www.gov.uk/your-employment-contract-how-it-can-be-changed

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 6 days ago.
Thank you for your time. I wanted a telephone conversation and have spoken to one of your colleagues but your comments has been very useful.

Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback - it was my pleasure helping you with your query. All the best