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Change to Rate of Overtime Pay

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MairyHoles Thu 06-Mar-14 19:00:06

I hope some of you can help, I'm an irregular poster but regular lurker.

A friend works in a factory setting but in a maintenance role, sorting machinery etc, rather than producing or packing the product. There have been whispers around the workplace about the company reducing the rate paid for overtime, which is currently very generous, particularly at weekends. Nothing formal has ever been put to the employees by any of the managers. A notice has now appeared in the staff room stating that overtime rate will now be X amount, as agreed with the union.

There is a staff of approximately 50, around 45 of them being paid hourly rather than salaried. There are 7 union members in the company, and one union rep who has only been in his position for approximately 2 weeks. The former union rep left after a meeting with management when the issue of this overtime issue was sprung on him and he disagreed with the manager. He walked out of the meeting and resigned his post as rep apparently, as he did not want to be connected to this and felt pressure from his boss.

The majority of the staff work shifts and somewhat rely on the overtime, on a Sunday particularly, as the factory is running 24 hours a day. My friend is contracted Monday to Friday (a huge oversight as far as I can see, since the factory is never closed) and currently goes in happily if called out for a machinery breakdown due to the overtime rate. This change will come into force on 1st April apparently, and from then on my friend will simply not accept the overtime unless it suits him, which he is entitled to do and which I agree with. But he is a bit miffed on behalf of the shift workers. I understand that eventually the reduction in overtime will come into force, but as I understood it, there had to be a consultation period for any contractual changes and the consultation should include the whole workforce, not just the word of one union rep representing less than 20% of the people effected (the union members are also not happy about the change and hadn't been consulted by the rep himself).

My friend would like to approach the boss, as it seems unfair that a notice just appeared like magic one evening, which bore a date several days earlier and which dictates a change less than a month in the future. I believe the boss has form for going about important issues the wrong way and although the change would eventually come, I think this is a point of principle for some of the staff.

Anything I know about employment law has basically come from reading this forum. Am I correct in thinking that the changes should have come at least 13 weeks after consultation? And that everyone should have been told officially in advance of the consultation itself? Is there anything I'm missing or that can help my friend and his colleagues?

I have to admit my friend approached me as I used to work as a solicitor but I truly have no idea where I would find the correct information to give my friend, and I would be very grateful for any advice you have.

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