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Employer wants to change my contract. Can anyone advise?

(7 Posts)
flowery Mon 26-Nov-12 22:26:43

You're not necessarily over a barrel. Just because termination and reengagement are potentially an option doesn't mean they would want to do that.

Depending on the business reasons and the process used, there is a degree of risk for them involved, which some employers wouldn't want to take. But also doing that means seriously damaging employee relations, so if they can live without the change being made, or with a compromise, they'd probably prefer to do that.

prh47bridge Mon 26-Nov-12 19:33:45

They could terminate your contract but, if you then claimed for unfair dismissal, they would have to show that there were good business reasons for the changes. They will want to avoid any claims so, as flowery says, your employer will be seeking your consent.

JockTamsonsBairns Mon 26-Nov-12 12:35:34

Thanks so much for the swift replies, and the very helpful advice.

Yes, the letter states that this is the first meeting of a consultation process which is to span 30 days, so it makes sense to go and listen to their proposals in the first instance. I would normally like to prepare some questions in advance, but given that I am completely in the dark with regard to their intentions, this is probably not appropriate.

I hadn't considered the scenario of termination followed by re-employment, although this is indeed what is happening at a higher level. My line manager, for instance, has effectively been made redundant and is to reapply, amongst other candidates, for the newly created posts.

Does this effectively mean I'm over a barrel then, so to speak? If, after the consultation process has taken place, I was to reject the proposed changes to the terms of my employment - they could terminate my contract in any event?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 26-Nov-12 12:16:43

As flowery said they can terminate you and re-employ you forgot that bit as none of my staff objected to terms that required this.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 26-Nov-12 12:15:07

I have just changed my staff's terms and conditions and took considerable professional advice before doing this.
This first meeting should be to tell you what they are going to change and the business reasons why it is necessary. You do not have to say yes or no at this stage. They should then issue you with a new contract and new handbook detailing the new terms and conditions. You get to ask questions and have time to consider this.
You do not have to sign this contract though you should take up your concerns with your employer if you leave this too long you weaken your case. Ultimately you can strike through any clauses you do not like in the contract and not agree to them, but agreeing to the rest of the contract.
Changes I have made are changing from fully paid sick pay to SSP and fully paid dependents leave to it being unpaid leave.
I don't think you need to prepare for this meeting just go and listen, but don't commit to anything.

flowery Mon 26-Nov-12 12:12:00

Given you don't know what changes they are proposing, there's not a lot of preparation you can do at this point, so that sounds fine in terms of notice.

This will be the start of a consultation process, so you need to go along and listen to what they propose to change. Then you can prepare a response, which might be agreeing to it, or proposing something else, negotiating, or refusing.

Basically, your employer can't just change your terms and conditions without your consent, so they will be seeking your consent. If you withhold your consent, then as long as they consult fully, listen to alternative suggestions and have a good business reason for the change, they could force it through, ultimately by terminating your employment and reengaging you on the new terms. How much of a business case they have or how likely they are to do that will depend on what they say and what changes they are proposing.

But at the moment it's consultation, so listen to what they say, and do come back after you know what they are proposing and what procedure they are using.

JockTamsonsBairns Mon 26-Nov-12 11:59:56

Just wondering if anyone could advise me on the legal position regarding my employer's indication that they want to change the terms of my contract.

Briefly, lots of changes going on at the moment. There are plans to merge us with another local branch of the same firm. Redundancies at management level are afoot but, I have been assured that jobs are safe at my (low) level.

I received a letter in the post on Saturday morning from HQ inviting me to a consultation meeting this coming Thursday to discuss possible changes to my current contract, so that "we can remain commercially competitive in extremely challenging trading conditions". I'm guessing that their intentions are not to improve the terms of my employment then. The letter's not terribly clear, but contains lots of jargon and spin about pulling together and making it a great place to work blah blah.

Not sure if this is at all relevant, but I started working for this national company 14 months ago - around the same time that they completed a takeover of what was formerly a small local branch. My contract is with the current national company, whereas most of my colleagues' contracts have never been changed and are still with the local company - which obviously no longer exists.

I'd like to point out that I'm not hostile to any possible changes to the terms of my employment. However, obviously I want to protect my own interests as much as I can. I enjoy my work, and have so far considered them to be good employers who have allowed me to work reasonably flexibly around my young Dc's. Again, not sure if this is relevant - but I am hourly paid, and on not a lot more than national minimum wage, so I cannot imagine that they intend to propose a reduction in pay.

I do feel that to receive a letter on Saturday (posted 1st class on Friday) regarding a meeting on the following Thursday leaves little time to adequately prepare, and gather all the information I need - so any advice I can get from here is very much appreciated.

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