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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38570
Experience:  Expert in UK Employment Law
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My contract states " You are employed as a sponsorship manager

Customer Question

My contract states
" You are employed as a sponsorship manager and will initially work in conferences. Your job title and duties may be varied from time to time in line with business requirements"
It has come to my attention 2 weeks ago in a conversation with a sales director that I have been moved from conferences in to a specific publication and in turn my reporting line has changed - 3 months ago! This happened without any communication or consultation and the first I knew of it was this conversation 2 weeks ago. I then sent an email asking when and why the move happened as I should have been informed on the changes and implications this would have on my role moving forward. I also stated that I was not in acceptance of the move until it was made clear. I followed this email up with a meeting with HR.
I then met with my own director in the conferences department and he said "I assumed you knew you had been moved and there is no role for you here any more"
I said, if I knew, then I would have moved physically in to that department, but I am physically still sitting in conferences, so that shows I didn't know!
The sales director in the publication, ignored this email and 2 weeks later, sent me a new job spec which he said that this is the only option I have. This job spec, whilst the same title, is very junior to my current role, where he has removed all management and autonomy I have on my role and where I have to ask him before I do anything!
HR then came back and said there are "no other alternatives" to bring to the table. HR said they believe that the role offered is one of the same level which I said it's definitely not.

I therefore have 2 questions:
1) can they legally move me without consultation?
2) with my role not existing in the conferences dept anymore, should they have offered me redundancy package.

I have a meeting with HR again tomorrow where I would like an option to be redundancy, but I am not sure if I can bring it up and if they should have offered it to me.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Before proceeding please note that as I am a practising solicitor, I am often in and out of meetings, travelling between clients or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance but there may be a delay in getting back to you and providing my advice. Please be patient and I will respond as soon as I can. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email when I have responded.

For now please let me know how long you have worked there?

Customer:

Hi Ben. I have worked there for 6 years since March 2007

Ben Jones :

Thank you for your patience. There are several ways in which an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. These are:


 


1. By receiving the employee’s express consent.


2. By forcefully introducing the changes (called 'unilateral change of contract').


3. By giving the employee notice to terminate their current contract and then offer them immediate re-engagement under a new contract that contains the changes.


 


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. Start working on the new terms but making it clear 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 feel they are forced to. In the meantime they should try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance.


 


2. If the changes are serious enough (e.g. a change to pay, duties, place of work, etc.) the employee may wish to consider 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 2 years' continuous service.


 


3. 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 and the changes if they had a sound business reason for dismissing an employee who refuses to accept the variation in terms. This could be pressing business needs requiring drastic changes for the company to survive. 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 requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply.


 


It is also worth mentioning that sometimes employment contracts may try to give the employer a general right to make changes to the employee’s contract. As such clauses give the employer carte blanche 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. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will still be subject to the requirement of the employer to act reasonably and this may not have actually been met here as you are basically given a demotion, which is unreasonable.


 

Customer:

In terms of my specific question regarding the term in my contract, what do you suggest?

Customer:

I do not want to claim constructive dismissal as I rely on my salary for my mortgage, bills etc.

Ben Jones :

the clause would not allow them to just implement the changes without your knowledge and consultation. So what they have done so far is most likely unfair. The issue is how you deal with it from now on because the options above are the only ones you can pursue (apart from also trying to negotiate some kind of agreed exit)

Customer:

Ok. Ideally I would like to negotiate redundancy and leave. My role in conferences is no longer available and they moved me to the publication part of the business with no communication. Now the new sales director (who sits in the US) has given me a new job spec which essentially is a demotion in the role itself. It has the same job title, but the HR director said - it's of the same level. The new role does not take on board my 14 years of skills and experience. The role (regardless of the title not changing) is one that you would give to someone of 5 years if that

Ben Jones :

you may certainly argue this is a redundancy and try to negotiate an exit that way but if the employer disagrees and refuses to make you redundant then the only way to pursue this is still via a constructive dismissal claim unfortunately

Customer:

And in the case of constructive dismissal, they don't need to pay you anymore - not even what is owed or my notice?

Ben Jones :

if you claim constructive dismissal then you are leaving with nothing but will then make the claim and if you are successful you will receive adequate compensation, so there is obviously a risk

Customer:

I can't afford to not even get paid for a month unfortunately as I used all my savings buying my flat recently, so just only starting to build that up, but don't have a month's worth of bills event.

Customer:

*even

Customer:

Looks like I will have to ask for the redundancy as the role they have presented is one of a junior level and if they say no, I have to accept the role and then look for a new job?

Customer:

I just thought that legally they have to offer me redundancy as an option if there are no other roles of the sale level and in my skills set.

Ben Jones :

No they do not, an employer can refuse to acknowledge there is a redundancy situation if they do not believe this is the case. You cannot force them to make you redundant which is where the constructive dismissal option comes in and that is where your legal protection is, even if it may not be ideal in the circumstances

Customer:

the conferences director told me that my role no longer exists in conferences department - is that not saying the role here is redundant?

Ben Jones :

yes it more or less is, one of the definitions of redundancy is where there is a diminished requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind. But the issue is that you cannot force them to make you redundant, even if there is a redundancy, they can refuse it and be difficult, expecting you to take up another job, that is the problem - to do anything about it you would have to go down the constructive dismissal route

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your query or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

Ben Jones :

I hope this has answered your query and would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating - your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you

Customer:

Oh I went to submit and it said the chat would close. I wanted to have a think last night which I did and I think you hit the nail on the head in that they will not see the role as redundant as they have merged it in to another role. However, I don't feel that my skills are transferable to this new role. I also feel like the terminology this sales director uses and his wording towards me is one of bullying. If I raise a grievance against him, could the company dismiss me if for example the grievance is unfounded? He has used stated on email "employees report in to their managers asking for approval for out of office meetings" and on another occassion "your actions potentially may need us to go back to clients and renegotiate". I feel that both of these quotes from the emails are of a demeaning and humiliating tone in front of colleagues and clients and both emails have caused me extreme distress to say the least.

Customer:

I also was advised by HR that he said I was "insubordinate to him" which to me is a very strong word which could lead to him managing me out. I already feel backed in to a corner where this new role he has put to me, is one of a very junior level. I'm not sure how we can work together moving forward.

Customer:

It just seems as though the law is on the side of the company, until I go down the route of constructive dismissal and if I raise a grievance, they could see fit to manage me out.

Ben Jones :

The conversation won't close and you can always come back to it. You should not be dismissed for simply raising a grievance, even if the employer does not find evidence to support it. Often a grievance may be raised due to the way someone feels about an issue which does not mean it is done maliciously, rather it would be their own perception that makes them consider there is a problem that needs resolving.


 


The law would not necessarily be on the employer's side - both you and the employer would have rights and they will be applied in different ways. If you are managed out and dismissed you will still have protection by potentially claiming unfair dismissal, otherwise f you have to leave, it is the constructive dismissal route. So there is always a potential claim you can make if necessary.

Ben Jones, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 38570
Experience: Expert in UK Employment Law
Ben Jones and other UK Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've just sent this to HR. I am at a loss what to do now. They have just said that my role is not redundant. It's incorporated in to this role of the same level - which I have stated is not the same level. it's the same job title but very junior in specs. Then I have just raised the issues with the sales director. Thanks again Ben,

Hi xxx

I've had some additional thoughts that I wanted to follow up with you on.

As mentioned in our meeting today
(19/07), the past few weeks have proved difficult in communicating with xxx (sales director) I initially raised concerns with him regarding my role on the phone (28/06) and then followed up on email (02/07). The email was ignored. His action of not acknowledging the email breaks down any trust there may have been initially.




Two weeks later (16/07) I receive an email with a job spec, with no acknowledgment of the email and questions I had previously sent. His manner of lack of communicating is suggestive of him telling me that he is in control and that he will treat me in the manner he wishes to and on his terms.


XXXs communications are those of a demeaning and humiliating matter in front of colleagues and more importantly clients. For example, stating that "employees report in to their managers asking for approval for out of office meetings" (email 17/07). This suggests that I am too junior to be trusted to do my job which incorporates face to face meeting with my clients. I have not had to ask for permission on meeting with clients since I started here at HM, and even in prior roles.

Secondly "your actions potentially may need us to go back to clients and renegotiate contracts" (email 17/07) which is suggesting that I am incapable of doing my job when in actual fact, the US team are changing the programme 9 weeks before an event and did not want to incorporate what I had sold before they had decided to re do the programme.

Both of these quotes are directly from emails XXX has sent to me, causing extreme embarrassment and distress.

In addition, the fact that he's taken out all of the senior and developmental elements of my role (ie, marketing, formats, production and general strategic elements) and constantly referred to me being "just sales" suggests that he has no respect for my experience to date and my career path moving forward, despite the conversations we have had.

Finally, following our conversation, I have taken on board that XXX has said that I am insubordinate and given this strong opinion he has of me, I am concerned this will hinder any chance for me to succeed.

If we could discuss these elements on Tuesday when we meet, that would be appreciated.


Many thanks

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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
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