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Change of terms and conditions - when can they change them?

(3 Posts)
Lambzig Mon 24-Sep-12 16:49:44

I work for a company that operates as a separate legal entity from its parent company (which I will call group), a large FTSE 350.

Payroll goes through group, but our smaller company has a separate HR function and separate Ts & Cs and employment contracts. So, my employment offer and contract come from the smaller legal entity.

We have just merged with a large international company and have been told today that the separate legal entity will disappear and we will be part of group in the UK (no idea of the timeframe for this but not overnight).

My employment contract with the smaller company has significantly different maternity provision to the group's employment contracts. Most importantly around the number of weeks at full pay that the company offers at the start of maternity leave. My smaller company gives the first 24 weeks at full pay (I know so lucky), whereas group only gives first 12 weeks at 90% pay.

I am 33 weeks pg and about to go on maternity leave in early November (will be leaving in mid October using my annual leave until maternity leave starts) and have completed all paperwork and got it agreed with our HR teams.

My concern is that as they merge the two companies that I will lose my better contractual terms. Can they change my contract terms so that I lose the maternity pay I was expecting or even change them half way through so that I lose those terms suddenly?

No indication that they will do this at all, but reluctant to ask HR in case it triggers them issuing me new Ts & Cs.

Any advice much appreciated.

StillSquiffy Mon 24-Sep-12 20:29:18

They can change Ts and Cs but in theory they need 'agreement' (which in practical terms means they need to 'consult' - i.e. announce it before they do it , and pretend to listen to concerns). Then they change and if you complain you ought to get offered redundancy as an alternative to accepting new Ts & Cs.

BUT that's not wholly relevant in your case as you are almost certainly covered by TUPE regs here (which apply when legal ownership changes). Under TUPE your current Ts & Cs are protected to a certain extent. They will of course merge them eventually but cannot do so immediately unless they apply for certain exemptions (called E,T & O exceptions). And I don't think they'll be able to put through something like this as an allowable exception.

Doesn't mean they might not try to do this of course, but my guess is they'll get round to changing these kinds of terms later rather than sooner. They'll have far bigger issues on their plate than this kind of detail and I think you'll be safely away long before they start trying to harmonise these terms. If I'm wrong you will definitely have grounds to kick up a stink.

Lambzig Mon 24-Sep-12 21:21:35

Thanks thats very reassuring, I hadn't thought of TUPE as technically we are already owned by the parent company.

I was just a bit worried as obviously significantly less money for three months would have an impact on our financial planning.

I agree that there are much bigger issues including redundancies of support.

I think I wont ask HR (particularly as their jobs are threatened) and hopefully it wont be on their radar until later.

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