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Objecting to Changes in an Employment Contract

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 20 Apr 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Employment Contract Change Hours Pay

If your employer wants to make changes to your employment contract such as your pay, your hours, location or holidays, it can be a worrying time for you as an employee. If you don't agree to the changes, you do have certain rights.

A contract can generally only be amended according to its terms, or with the agreement of both parties. An employment contract is no different. You must be given notice of any proposed changes by your employer. This gives you chance to object to any changes. Below we've answered two quite typical questions followed by a guide to what you can do if you disagree with changes, together with a letter template.

Question 1. My employer wants me to change to annualised hours

I have worked for the last 12 years for the same Company having gone to a 4 day working week approximately 6 years ago doing a 28hr week. The Company now wants to change to Annualised Hours Contracts. I will still be working 4 days a week but possibly doing 9.5hrs a day with a half hour break so doing possibly 38hrs over 4 days then during the winter months going to a possible 3 day week.

I do not agree with this change of contract and do not want to work these hours. Can the Company dismiss me if I refuse to sign a new contract as they seem to be inferring. What are my rights and what can I do please.

Answer

If the pattern of 4 days/28 hours per week is expressly written in your employment contract, then this is a contractual term. It can only be altered with your agreement. If your employer dismisses you for disagreeing with proposed changes to a contractual term, then you will likely have a claim against them for unfair dismissal (see below "If you can't reach agreement")

If the pattern of 4 days/28 hours per week is not expressly written in your employment contract then you may have more difficulty resisting the changes. Check exactly what is in your contract, as it may have a maximum number of hours. If you are unhappy with the changes, speak to your employer about your concerns. For example if they need staff to work 9.5 hours days, can you work less days (so less total hours)?

Question 2. Company says I'll be dismissed if I don't agree to changes

I have been invited to my first consultation meeting regarding a change to our contracts to work 3 fixed bank holidays and move to 5 days instead of 4. Is there anything I can do to change the bank holiday changes?

I have spoken to the company and they have offered no alternative. The company says this is needed in order to fulfill my role and could lead to dismissal if I do not accept the changes.

Answer

Check what your employment contract says. Does it list your holiday as including bank holidays (eg 24 days plus bank holidays)? If so you could refuse to work bank holidays, or at least require a day holiday in lieu. If your employment contract expressly does not require you to work bank holidays then you cannot be dismissed for refusing the change. However bear in mind that if this is now a legitimate requirement for the role, then by refusing you may force your employer to consider making you redundant.

Disagreeing with changes

If you disagree with changes proposed to your employment contract, it is really important that you communicate that clearly. If you do not and continue to work varied terms (e.g. work a changed time shift), then this could be seen as implied acceptance of the changes.

In order to clearly communicate disagreement to any changes, we recommend formally writing to your employer. Should the matter later proceed to an Employment Tribunal, this letter will be treat as a written grievance.

You cannot be fired for disagreeing changes to your employment contract. If your employer did so, you would have a valid claim against them for unfair dismissal (providing that you have worked for that employer for a minimum period of two continuous years).

Template letter

Dear XXXXXX

This is to inform you of my position in relation to the proposed changes to my employment contract.

Your have advised that you wish to make the following changes to my employment:

(E.g.) You wish to change my usual working hours from 6pm-10pm to 4pm-8pm

I object to these proposed change(s) for the following reasons:

(E.g.) I am unable to start work at 4pm at I have to pick up my son from school at 3:50pm and take him to my parents, who look after him in the evening. The school is 30 minutes drive away and I have no one else who can pick him up. My parents do not drive.

[If you have any, it may help to resolve the situation to suggest a compromise.]

I understand that recent changes in the area mean that the business has been busier earlier and so you need staff to work from an earlier time. I am unable to start work at 4pm, but if it would assist, I would be willing to change my working hours to work from 5pm to 9pm.

I hope that we can resolve this situation amicably and request a meeting at a mutually convenient time to discuss the matter further. I would want [name of another employee] to attend the meeting.

Yours sincerely,

If you can't reach agreement

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your employer, you may need to take more formal steps.
  1. You have 3 months minus 1 day - from the date of the issue arising to issue a claim at the Employment Tribunal. It is therefore really important that you deal with any issue promptly rather than just hoping it will go away
  2. You must notify ACAS - before you can take a matter to the Employment Tribunal. This can be by phone or online form
  3. An ACAS officer will then call you within 2 working days to discuss the matter. You can refer them to any legal advisor if you prefer
  4. ACAS will offer you their Early Conciliation Service. Essentially they try to assist with communication between the parties to try to help you and your employer reach an agreement. The idea is that this is both cheaper and a lot quicker than going to the Tribunal
  5. If you do not wish to participate in conciliation you do not have to do so. Alternatively if you try it and don't reach an agreement, you can still go to the Tribunal
  6. You need a reference number from ACAS to put on your Tribunal claim form (ET1 form). If you do not include an ACAS reference number, the Court will not hear your claim

If you need to refer the matter to the Employment Tribunal, you can seek free and independent help from your Trade Union or local Citizen Advice Bureau.

Non-contractual changes

It is important to remember that not all changes to your employment contract are contractual. For example an employer can often change the criteria for giving out discretionary bonus without changing your contractual terms.

Some contracts also include contract variation terms which allow for certain changes to be made by your employer. For example:

  • A mobility clause - this will usually allow your employer to require you to work at another site within a certain geographic area (e.g. if you work for a restaurant chain that has two restaurants within the same city, you may be asked to work at the other site.)
  • A flexibility clause - this will usually allow your employer to change your duties at work - the clause usually lists your main duties and then says 'plus anything else reasonably asked of you'. (e.g. a bartender's usual duties might be to mix cocktails. However if the bar is particularly quiet one day, they may be asked to hand out coupons outside the bar in order to entice in more customers.)

If you are unhappy with any proposed change however, speak to your employer. If you explain your concerns, it may be that you can reach a compromise.

If you need any assistance with deciding if a change is contractual or non-contractual, or want help with objecting to a change, seek free and independent help from your trade union or local Citizens Advice Bureau

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[Add a Comment]
I have my hours through flexible working 4 set days during the week. Currently in 30 days consultation they have still offered same number of hours and days but they say one of my 4 days must be a Saturday. If I don’t accept the change they will dismiss and re-engage on whatever they want to offer - is this legal can they do this - my flexible working was given because im a Carer of elderly dimentia relatives a number of years ago
Alligator - 18-Mar-19 @ 5:44 PM
How many weeks notice are required to give me to change from mon to fridays to week end work , been there over 2 years and not happy with the change
Maria - 13-Jan-19 @ 11:46 PM
I have been working early morning hours from 6.00 for five consecutive days each week for 6 years .Because we have had a colleague leave they are not being replaced so they are asking us to work a late night each until 10 pm ...... because I get up at 4.30 every morning I am usuallyin bed by 8.30 to catch up on my sleep . I have explained this to my employer to ask if they could compromise and I work till 8 instead .. they have said it needs to be till 10 . I was wondering if this is classed as an unreasonable request and if there was anything I could do about it .. thank you
Cookie - 3-Nov-18 @ 5:57 PM
Hello, I have been with my company for ove 10 years. the employer is changing the working hours from 9.5 to 8 per day. This means annual salary reduction. Will i get the redundancy pay if i object to agree with changes?
JDK - 8-Oct-18 @ 3:03 PM
What is meant by.....45 hours per week on a rolling week?
dickie - 9-Jun-18 @ 11:29 AM
i have worked nightshift for same company for twenty nine years.they want to change my hours of work.i now finish at six am.new changes would mean I finish at seven.i would loose money..can they force a change?
bada - 4-Jun-18 @ 1:33 PM
Desperate for some legal advice as I know'they' will have the best ...
mememe - 2-Jun-18 @ 2:03 PM
My partner came home yesterday and told me that his employer has said I'm not paying for your half hour dinner anymore you have to work n extra half hour everyday. Is that legal. Why doesn't he just deduct from pay.
Bev - 25-May-18 @ 10:06 AM
Anders - Your Question:
Hi, I've been a full time employee for 3 years. I have been told by the company that they can no longer afford to keep me in a full time role and want to make it a part time position. This doesn't suit me, what can I and they do?

Our Response:
The advice is really all contained in the above article.
SafeWorkers - 15-May-18 @ 3:36 PM
Hi, I've been a full time employee for 3 years. I have been told by the company that they can no longer afford to keep me in a full time role and want to make it a part time position. This doesn't suit me, what can I and they do?
Anders - 12-May-18 @ 4:35 PM
Hi - I work 2 day shifts 2 night shifts and then 4 off.Been doing the same for 4 years.My company was part of TUPE three months ago but all terms and conditions were carried over.My job is part of a 24/7 business covered by 4 lots of shift teams all working 2 days 2 nights then 4 days off.The management have just told us they want to rearrange the different shift teams about so different people will be working with each other.None of the 20 staff involved (5 people on 4 shifts) are happy with this.Have heard on the grapevine it is being done as some people are better at using the new computer system than others and they want a balance of strong and weak users - but this is a rumour and none of the management will confirm it.Whilst I will get used to new work colleagues it means that when the swap first happens I only get 2 days off before the usual 2 days 2 nights then 4 off begins again.However my main concern is all my holiday has been booked/granted for 2018 and the new shift pattern is at odds with it - have 12 days off in August but now will need 14 days and in October I booked 2 day shifts off to make a 6 day break and now will need 4 days (2 days 2 nights) to work in with the hotel break already booked - will my employer have to let me have the extra days - don't want to lose my holidays that I've paid for but can't afford to take time off unpaid (something my employer doesn't usually allow) - I don't have any holiday left.
Booboo - 1-May-18 @ 1:07 PM
Hello there. My probation has just been extended to 6 months from 3. I fear that my job role may be changing as my employer has asked me to look at a different job description. I have a meeting on Friday to discuss. I have previously worked in this job role for the past 2 years so have lots of experience.Can they change my job role within my probationary period?
Steph - 4-Apr-18 @ 5:25 AM
Louise - Your Question:
I have been with my company for 13yrs. Working shift 4 on 4 off. 12hr shifts. Due to High BP and sleep apnoea. GP recommend 10 hrs working on the 4 on 4 off. My employer has refused.Offering me a 5 day week of 37.5 hrs. Starting at 1pm to 9pm.I have refused, they have said that is the only choice.What can I do?My Union says they can't help me anymore.

Our Response:
If your business can't acccommodate your hours because of business reasons, there isn't much you can do about it. The employer has offered you alternative times that should alleviate the sleep apnoea and blood pressure issues.
SafeWorkers - 3-Apr-18 @ 12:11 PM
I have been with my company for 13yrs. Working shift 4 on 4 off. 12hr shifts. Due to High BP and sleep apnoea. GP recommend 10 hrs working on the 4 on 4 off. My employer has refused. Offering me a 5 day week of 37.5 hrs. Starting at 1pm to 9pm. I have refused, they have said that is the only choice. What can I do? My Union says they can't help me anymore.
Louise - 30-Mar-18 @ 10:55 AM
Can my employer change my working rota due to an employee leaving iv have now been told some if her days must be covered inc New Years Day
annie - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:58 PM
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