Advice needed re: changes to terms and conditions

(10 Posts)
QueenBoudicea Tue 29-Jan-13 09:09:30

Currently work for a company which has just lost a big contract. Result is that 50% cut of workforce.

At the same time, as a cost saving measure they have decided to make a number of changes to terms and conditions - mainly cutting home/car allowances. Approx 50% of the company are home based. No problem with this overall if re-implemented in better times - I'd rather make savings and ensure less people made redundant.

In addition they have also entered a clause to a change in toil. Under contract I, and my team, am home-based, therefore any travel time for mtgs etc is included in my working hours. They are now specifying that the first hour of travel (each way) is given for free. Is there anyway to challenge this? What this could in effect mean that people are working for 'free' for 10 hours a week. We all work over our hours as it is - and being home-based certainly means we are more productive. Company has historically had home-based workers - over the last 15-20 years.

The justification for making the change is that office based staff travel an hour to get into their office.

gah - help - the workforce are already completely demotivated, and this has pretty much floored them.

Notice to changes given on monday and have been asked to agree them by next monday - have contacted ACAS who have basically said the employer can do what they want - but it all just seems so unfair.

Most people travel to get to work though. If you end up working for 'free' while travelling then that will naturally impact the other hours you have available to work - so there will be much less 'free' overtime.

Maybe the problem is that the company have got used to the homeworkers being more productive and aren't aware that they are getting so much overtime for 'free'. If they see productivity fall then they may change it back.

I've no idea if you can challenge it - I do think the problem is the overtime you are all already doing and not this extra 'free' travel.

prh47bridge Tue 29-Jan-13 09:47:25

You don't have to agree to changes in terms and conditions. However, if you don't the company is entitled to make you redundant. So in reality ACAS is right that you don't have much choice.

Your employer is correct that if you are office based your working time does not include your travelling time. I'm pretty close to my office at the moment but for most of my working life I've faced a journey of 45 minutes or more each way, so you could argue that I've been giving 7.5 hours a week free to my employers down the years.

You could try negotiating a reduction in the amount of travel given for free but if they insist you will have little choice but to accept.

QueenBoudicea Tue 29-Jan-13 17:39:21

thanks for your feedback - the thing is all posts were advertised as home based so I applied on that basis. It's a social enterprise so many have worked overtime for free because we believe in the difference it makes. Just galling that this isn't appreciated by top levels.
I guess we'll have to suck it up.sad

QueenBoudicea Tue 29-Jan-13 17:41:09

I should say I'm not adverse to travelling having commuted long distances for years so I'm not looking for a free ticket just wanted to know what impact it would have if still considered a home worker on the contract.

FadBook Tue 29-Jan-13 23:02:07

You can contest the change and see how far the company goes to enforce it.

I disagree it is a redundancy situation as the roles have not diminished. It is a change to you t&c's which you either accept or decline, and risk them forcing the change through. They could potentially "dismiss" and re hire on the new T&C's and its at this point you could challenge unfair dismissal. If the business have a strong business case to make the change then a tribunal probably wouldn't be successful.

Ideally, as an employer, they will want your buy in to the change, or reach a compromise (30 min instead of 60 min). They may offer a gesture if goodwill payment as a one off to 'buyout' the changes.

A lot of this is happening and I sympathise with you entirely. It does seen unfair and I would be looking to put forward ideas to limit the number of on site mtgs, like conference calls, Skype etc. all ways to save expense and money.

QueenBoudicea Thu 31-Jan-13 06:36:26

thanks - will see how we get on.
we're already using Skype for quite a lot of internal work so are making savings there.

prh47bridge Thu 31-Jan-13 09:25:01

The roles do not have to diminish for redundancy to apply. The employer is entitled to say that it can no longer afford to employ people on the old terms and conditions and therefore redundancies will be made unless changes are agreed. Of course, it is then open to employees to take the employer to tribunal and argue that the redundancy was actually unfair dismissal.

FadBook Thu 31-Jan-13 10:30:16

I agree with you to a point prh47bridge but if you work in HR/employment law, I think you'll agree that this scenorio is a mine field, and could be deemed as not a redundancy situation, because the work is still there (and hasn't diminished). I've been on a lengthy thread under the CIPD communities board recently over something very similar and the conclusion from more qualified legal people than myself (HR Manager) that you can 'risk' dismissing for SOSR and not paying out redundancy in this scenario (i.e changing t&c's with solid business grounds).

With anything work related, employers have options to take some 'risky' decisions and some air on the side of caution. I'm just explaining in my post that legally they could risk what they are doing and push this through, and like you said, it would only be an ET that a tribunal would decide if there was a redundancy, and if so, was it a fair process. They would also apply the 'Polky' case to see if procedure had been followed.

Back to the OP, it sounds to me like they are being very risky in what they are trying to do. But without knowing the context of the Company (small, medium or large), finances, if the business case is strong etc, it's hard to weigh up if what they're doing means you have a 'case' or not. Hence my advice to start negotiations and see how far they go. You could ultimately put forward that you believe it to be a redundancy situation.

QueenBoudicea Thu 31-Jan-13 22:23:17

thank you - I've witheld information as worried it'll out me, but would you mind if I pm'd you? there are other issues going on organisationally.

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