Sadly, there continues to be a high number of redundancies being made by employers due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That said, I have also received questions from employees as to whether it is lawful for an employer to reduce their hours, working days or pay instead of making them redundant. Read on to learn more.
Can Your Employment Reduce Your Working Hours, Working Days or Pay Instead of Redundancy?
As ever, the answer is not a simple one but yes, in certain situations your employer can. In determining whether your employers’ actions are lawful you should firstly consider whether you have given your consent to such a change. You can either give your express consent or through custom and practice, your implied consent. There are occasions where your employer may have express consent within your employment contract, but this is quite rare.
Variation Of Your Contract of Employment
If there is no express term within your contract of employment, any such change proposed by your employer would amount to a variation of contract.
When an employer proposes a variation to your contract of employment, I would expect your employer to consult with you on the proposed changes. Through the period of consultation your employer should provide you with the opportunity to understand why any proposed change is necessary and for you to raise any concerns you have. If during the period of consultation you do have concerns with the proposed change, you should clearly set out your objection and state that should there be a variation made, you are only working ‘under protest’. A failure to make your objection clear could see your silence or inaction as having accepted the change.
What Questions Should You Ask During Consultation?
- You should ask your employer why the change is needed. In the current climate, the response may well be that the potential alternative is a formal restructure resulting in job losses.
- If your employer is proposing a number of detrimental changes, you should ask your employer whether these changes all need to be implemented at once. It may be possible to seek some immediate changes but also put in place a transitional agreement that some changes will take place over time.
- You could ask your employer whether there is any incentive to accept the change. This does not have to be a financial benefit and you could put forward innovative ways to induce your acceptance.
- You could ask your employer to implement a future annual salary review to help you improve your situation for when the economy recovers.
What Are Your Employer’s Options If You Do Not Accept The Change?
If an employer continues to implement a variation to your contract of employment, without your consent, they may take the following action:-
- They could dismiss those employees who refuse to agree. If you are dismissed it may be that you can pursue a claim for Unfair Dismissal and (if no notice is given to you) Breach of Contract.
- They could terminate your existing employment contract and offer you re-engagement on the new terms. It may be that you would have a claim for Unfair Dismissal and again (if no notice is given to you) Breach of Contract.
- They could impose the change and leave it to you on how you decide to respond. This could possibly result in you pursuing a Constructive Unfair Dismissal claim.
How Can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You?
If you require further advice on how to approach your employer’s request to vary your contract of employment, or if you are concerned that you may be dismissed, please call us for an initial free telephone consultation on 01522 440512 Alternatively, review our guidance on Unfair Dismissal; https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/resignation-dismissal-and-redundancy/unfair-dismissal/
Lucy Stones, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors