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Contractual Change

Contractual Change

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Hi,

I am working for a care provider and recently been awarded the tender with the Council. Everybody's hopes relied upon this and the MD had communicated to all staff that pay rises will take effect only if we were successful. Now the time for celebration has arrived but unfortunately there is no celebration as the MD has introduced changes in contracts.

To cut things short:

Before the tender the minimum pay per hour [as per the contract]was £6.30 however, in realistic terms the pay was always on or above £9.00/h [staff got paid per visit and not per hour and there are different rates for 15mins, 30mins, 45mins, 1h etc].

Now, the MD has increased the minimum pay per hour to £8.00 BUT the majority of visits are 1/2h and this has gone down by 50p and travelling time is not included anymore.

As a result, staff now will need to work longer hours to end up learning less than before.

Shift patterns had been agreed in both verbal and written forms and each staff had specific contracted hours.

In the contract's terms and condition at the 'Hours of Work' section it is stated: ''Your normal hours of work are x per week. These normal hours of work may be varied to meet the needs of the business or section in which you are based''. 

My question therefore is twofold:

1. if a change in working hours, pay and shift patterns can  be considered as a breach of contract terms and thus, unlawful? 

2. if staff members do not comply with the new contractual terms and chose to resign if they could do so on the grounds of constructive dismissal and proceed with a Tribunal claim?

Thanks very much for your help and advice.

Anastasia

Replies (5)

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By sarah.welsby
12th Jul 2011 14:32

 ... yes and yes.

Generally you should assume that changes cannot be made to t&c of employment without mutual agreement, as if as you suggest the employees are going to be worse of as a result of the changes they are unlike to agree to the change. There has been a interesting case very recently, where the employer successfully dismissed an individual when they refused to accept a 5% salary drop. But this was one individual out of a group of 80+ that refused to accept the new terms. The company was in financial difficulties, which seems to have had some bearing on the outcome and reading between the lines of your question, this might be the case with your own employer. However the notes on the case clearly state:

Employers that are in financial straits can ask staff to take a pay cut to avoid redundancies, provided that they carry out consultation and get employees' express agreement. In practice, most employees will accept as an alternative to a round of redundancies. 

Your MD would be ill advised to progress without first agreeing the change with the workforce.

Hope this helps, sjw

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Karen Drury
By Karen Drury
21st Jul 2011 16:02

Well, this is not my area, but I thought that employers could effectively do anything to t&c as long as they consulted and I think consultation has to take 90 days for this size of workforce.  In which case, if your employer is proceding without consultation, he's in breach of contract.

 

-- Karen Drury

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By anamil84
17th Aug 2011 09:38

what happens with existing staff that refuse to comply with the changes?

Is there any way that existing staff can be laid off without making them reduntant first?

 

Kind Regards

 

Anastasia

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By tiggah2
02nd Nov 2011 11:29

If staff affected are consulted with lawfully and given the oppurtunity to present their views, after that period an emplyer can take the line that employees who do not accept the contractual changes have in effect resigned. So anyone who came to work after the set date would be seen to have accepted the new t&c's. Best avoided where possible for the damage it causes employee relations but lawful and necessary when no agreement can be reached but this should follow a good consultation

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By tiggah2
02nd Nov 2011 14:46

If staff affected are consulted with lawfully and given the oppurtunity to present their views, after that period an employer can take the line that employees who do not accept the contractual changes have in effect resigned. So anyone who came to work after the set date would be seen to have accepted the new t&c's. Best avoided where possible for the damage it causes employee relations but lawful and necessary when no agreement can be reached but this should follow a good consultation and there must be a strong business case supporting the employers decision and they should also be able to show there was no further reasonable options.

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