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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
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Experience:  Expert in UK Employment Law
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There is currently a restructure at my workplace. My boss has

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There is currently a restructure at my workplace. My boss has been given voluntary severance and I am being expected to take on his line management responsibilities (5 people) at my grade (two grades lower than my boss). Other parts of my role are being changed and I am uncomfortable about this change, particularly the line management responsibilities associated.

Effectively 50% of my current role has been down graded to a grade below with additional tasks and being advertised. Do I have to just accept this change, have I an option of going for the advertised post (50% my current role) with my salary being ringfenced?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello, thanks for your question. Please press Accept once you get my answer and I will discuss your query in more detail. For now please let me know how long you have worked there for?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have worked there for at least eight years. I was sent a revised job description last Friday and I queried a few things. I have not accepted verbally or in writing the job description. However as part of the restructure I think they believe that even though you haven't said yes/no silence means you have accepted the change.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Is your job at risk of redundancy?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No, other people in the organisation have been persuaded to take voluntary severance. Some with little option. My current/previous role has been downgraded I think partly to give one of my other colleagues who did a similar job, voluntary severance, and as part of a cost cutting exercise to downgrade the jobs but they will be replaced.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

So as far as you are concerned have your contractual terms and conditions significantly changed as a result of this?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In my current contract there is no line management responsibilities but there is a clause: To undertake such other work as may be required from time to time by the Director. Although wide ranging it seems to relate to work rather than line management.

In my view the content and job description have significantly changed in this respect.

 

50% of my role is market research but which I am told will be going but they have kept it in the job description at the moment so they don't have to do an interview matching process. There are additional new responsibilities that have been added.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
You can argue that these changes are unreasonable and amount to a change to your contractual terms and conditions. Whilst you may be asked to undertake any extra work as required, there is an implied understanding that this should be within reason and you should argue that all these new duties are unreasonable.

Generally, an employer can only change an employee’s contractual terms in the following ways:

1. By receiving the employee’s express approval to the changes (this could be bypassed if there are collective agreements in place negotiated by a Trade Union).
2. By forcefully introducing the changes (called unilateral change of contract).
3. By giving the employee notice to terminate their employment and then offer them immediate re-engagement on the new terms.

If the employee agrees to the changes then that would usually put an end to the matter.

If the changes are introduced forcefully then the following options are open to the employee:

1. Accept the changes, start working on the new terms and not take the matter any further.
2. Start working on the new terms but making it clear to the employer (preferably in writing) that they are working ‘under protest’. This means that the employee does not agree with the changes but is only working them because they are forced to. In the meantime try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance. At the same time, the employee can bring in a claim for breach of contract in the civil courts or, if the changes relate to pay, a claim for unlawful deduction of wages in an employment tribunal.
3. If the changes amount to a repudiatory breach of contract (i.e. a change that affects at least one of the key contractual terms, such as pay, place of work, etc.) the employee may wish to consider taking the final step by resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. The resignation must be done without undue 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 the employee having at least 1 year’s continuous service.

Finally, 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 justify the dismissal if they had a sound business reason for dismissing an employee who refuses to accept the variation in terms. If no such reason exists, the employee can make a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The same time limit of 3 months to claim and the need to have 1 year’s continuous would apply.

Please press Accept. I can expand my answer and provide more detailed advice and guidance as necessary and also answer any specific questions you may have. Thank you
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 39001
Experience: Expert in UK Employment Law
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Ben Jones
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Expert in UK Employment Law