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Ben Jones, Solicitor
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Experience:  Expert in UK Employment Law
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Can my employer unilaterally change some of my Terms and Conditions

Resolved Question:

Can my employer unilaterally change some of my Terms and Conditions of Employment for the worse?

For info, I am in full time employment in the UK, 12 years of continuous service. The employer wishes to implement changes to the provisions relating to overtime working, specifically, reducing the rate of pay for Sunday and Bank Holiday overtime from double time to time and a half, and introducing a 7.5 hour monthly threshold for all overtime, ie the first 7.5 hours overtime worked in any one month will not be paid.

Currently, there is no monthly threshold, so all overtime worked is paid, and Sunday and Bank Holiday overtime is paid at double time. this has been the case since May 2002.

Many thanks.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Hi

 

just to confirm - these are contractual provisions, written in your contract? Also has your employer given any explanation as to the reason for the changes?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes, these provisions are set out in a document titled "Terms and Conditions of Employment" issued by my employer on 04/04/2002, and subsequently amended to include further guidance on 31/05/2002.

Explanations have varied from "The current arrangements are a longstanding mistake, and were never meant to be part of the Ts & Cs" to the "Desire to harmonise the Ts and Cs across the whole company"

The existing terms, which were implemented by my employer in 2002, were specifically designed to cater for the different requirements of the business sector in which my division of the company operates.

Many thanks.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Your employer can only change your contractual terms with your agreement or if it is allowed under your contract or a collective agreement you have entered into. If they try and change your terms without agreement, then that could amount to unilateral changes to your contract and, potentially, breach of contract.

 

If the changes are introduced forcefully then you have the following options:

 

1. Accept them, start working on the new terms and don't take the matter any further.

 

2. Start working on the new terms but making it clear to your employer (preferably in writing) that you are ‘working under protest'. This means that you do not agree to the changes but are only working them because you are forced to. In the meantime try and resolve the issue with your employer by informal discussions or through a formal grievance.

 

3. If Option 2 does not get you anywhere then you may wish to consider taking the final step and resigning without notice. If you do so, you would need to resign without undue delay so as not to give an impression that you had accepted the breach. Then you can claim constructive unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. You would have to argue that your employer had committed a fundamental breach of contract and that you were left with no other option but to resign. Be aware though that you only have 3 months from the date you resign to submit your claim.

 

But in any case, your employer can legally introduce the changes if they give you sufficient notice to terminate your current contract and then re-employ you on a new contract, which incorporates the changes. Technically that would still be a dismissal so unless your employer can justify that there was a valid reason for the changes in the first place then you may have a case for unfair dismissal and you can make a claim in the same way in an employment tribunal.

 

Please press the ACCEPT button to proceed. You would then be free to ask any follow-up questions you may have. Thank you.

Ben Jones, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 38858
Experience: Expert in UK Employment Law
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