Employment law experts, help please I think I need to raise a grievance

(28 Posts)
MadderthanHell Tue 31-May-16 21:33:07

Earlier this year my employer announced they were withdrawing our quarterly bonus scheme. They added 80% of our annual bonus potential to our basic salary for Apr- Dec and said they would pay bonus for Jan-March as previously. This resulted in a £1K pay cut for me. I looked into whether anything could be done about it as they gave insufficient notice, failed to consult etc. but eventually decided I wasn't in a position to push it. I expected to receive my Q1 bonus today. Last Wednesday we got an email saying that the bonus would be calculated differently, except it didn't point out it was different, just said how it would be calculated, and it is different. No explanation why. The bonus has been paid quarterly to the same formula for the 6 years I've been there. The result is that I am £500 short on what I would have received if they had paid 'as previously'. No notice, no consultation, the bombshell was dropped well after the period had closed. What would be my best course of action? I really feel they've gone too far now. I would be grateful for any advice.

HappyGoLuckyGirl Tue 31-May-16 21:40:02

I'm not sn expert but would assume that unless your bonuses are stipulated in your original contract, then they are given at the discretion of the directors?

FanSpamTastic Tue 31-May-16 21:44:33

You need to check your contract - is your bonus scheme contractual or discretionary? Many bonus schemes are discretionary - e.g. You may participate in the company bonus scheme - they can change the rules around the scheme as they please but whatever scheme they have you can participate in. Or if contractual it may say - you are entitled to a bonus equal to x% of salary to be paid in quarterly instalments etc etc.

If discretionary then probably not a lot you can do provided you are being treated same as others.

ThatsMyStapler Tue 31-May-16 21:46:45

the first thing here is if it is a contractual benefit or not - ie is it in your contract that you will definitely get a bonus of x amount

secondly - regarding consultation, i think that depends on the above and also how many people would be affected?

Is it a big company?

(im not a lawyer, and only know a little bit - possibly dangerous!! hopefully someone will come over and explain properly)

MadderthanHell Tue 31-May-16 21:49:19

Our contracts say that notice will be given to change the scheme. The company handbook gives details of how the bonus is calculated. It has been paid every quarter according to this calculation for the past 6 years and probably longer.

TrollsAreCunts Tue 31-May-16 22:07:06

Is your company in financial trouble? This sounds like they are.

MadderthanHell Tue 31-May-16 22:13:19

No they are not. There may be another reason they want to make us look leaner though. Anyway if they were in financial trouble and needed to make cutbacks there is a correct way of going about it.

TrollsAreCunts Tue 31-May-16 22:20:58

Are you in a union? ACAS might be able to help. For the sake of £500 it's probably not worth going to a solicitor.

MadderthanHell Tue 31-May-16 22:45:28

I'm not in a union. ACAS said get legal advice. I know it's not a massive amount of money really, but I'm so pissed off with the sneaky way they've gone about it, I feel like I need to take them on as a matter of principal, especially as they've already got away with cutting our pay.

TrollsAreCunts Tue 31-May-16 22:52:46

If other people are affected is it worth trying to raise a collective grievance? Do you have a company policy?

MadderthanHell Tue 31-May-16 22:59:12

We have a grievance procedure. I also think collective is the way to go but I'm concerned about being 'the ringleader' and I don't know how to go about organising it.

TrollsAreCunts Wed 01-Jun-16 10:46:39

If you and your colleagues join a union the union rep can organise a grievance on your behalf.

It's inevitable that if you want to pursue this that you will be seen as the ringleader. It's shit but you have to be confident that your company will treat you professionally.

Have you raised this informally? Maybe asking open, non-threatening, information gathering questions of your boss / HR? first?

MadderthanHell Wed 01-Jun-16 19:21:34

I wrote to my boss and she replied with the agreed corporate response. I know she doesn't believe it and didn't write in good faith. They know it's illegal and are relying on no one sticking their head above the parapet.

IceMaiden73 Thu 02-Jun-16 09:33:39

You need to contact a specialist, call ACAS

Horsemad Thu 02-Jun-16 19:05:08

Try the CAB.

MadderthanHell Thu 02-Jun-16 21:37:25

I've already spoken to ACAS they said get legal advice, which I think is the only option. I'm confident that this is a breach of contract. I'm thinking it may be a whistleblowing issue as HR are unable or unwilling to answer questions about the lack of notice, managers are giving out untrue information because they are passing on a corporate position which has been given to them and people are being subjected to strong hints about disciplinary action if they push it and try to exercise their employment rights.

TrollsAreCunts Thu 02-Jun-16 23:39:01

It's not whistle blowing as it's not a public safety/interest issue. But it does sound like a breach of contract.

WottyMcWottFace Thu 02-Jun-16 23:53:14

Similar scenario here - some good replies. Hope you get sorted soon. Keep us posted flowers

caroldecker Fri 03-Jun-16 00:29:57

Assuming they have done this to everyone, you are probably on a hiding to nothing. Not worth the aggro IMO.

MadderthanHell Fri 03-Jun-16 07:58:03

But Carol why should we be on a hiding to nothing? That have knowingly breached our contracts, it affects several hundred people. They are banking on people thinking like that.

TrollsAreCunts I think it doesn't actually have to be the general public as such, this is a large number of employees. I think I am going to have to pay for legal advice though. I was hoping we could organise ourselves as a group but people are being threatened now for trying to do that.

caroldecker Fri 03-Jun-16 16:19:50

So you cause a lot of trouble and win back £1,500 this year. The changes are valid next year as they have given notice and you are branded a trouble maker who is never promoted going forward. Not worth £1,500 one-off to me.

MadderthanHell Fri 03-Jun-16 20:25:53

Is exercising employment rights 'causing a lot of trouble'? Personally I think it's the US CEO who is causing the trouble by stealing money from the employees after they have worked for it in good faith.

TrollsAreCunts Fri 03-Jun-16 21:25:26

Trust me, it's not a whistleblowing issue, especially if you haven't even gone down the grievance route.

You don't need legal advice to raise a grievance. I'd start again with a conversation with your manager, give two weeks to get a satisfactory reply and then start the grievance process.

Try to be completely unemotional and stick to one issue. Don't throw the kitchen sink at it.

caroldecker Sat 04-Jun-16 00:44:17

Madder make a fuss, you may win or not, but employers like that will not take kindly to your action, and future pain is not, IMHO, worth £1,500.

FinderofNeedles Sun 05-Jun-16 00:02:25

They know it's illegal "Illegal" - really? Annoying, disappointing, unfair maybe; but probably not 'illegal'.

I also think collective is the way to go but ^I'm concerned about being 'the ringleader'^ - and so probably is anyone else who feels as strongly as you do! Why do you think someone else will put their head above the parapet, if you won't?

I've been in a similar situation, which was definitely unfair and badly managed but wasn't actually illegal, and I discovered that most people preferred to suck up the changes, however uncomfortable and inconvenient, rather than risk being labelled a troublemaker.

What reason could they have for changing the calculations: is the new scheme fairer in some way; does it save the company money? Do you think the company is in a position to reinstate the bonus scheme back to the previous model, for next year? (Do you know anything about the finances?)

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