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Can my term time contract be changed?

(11 Posts)
tanya678 Tue 22-Dec-15 13:30:18

Hi, I work in an admin role in the NHS. I've had a 3 day term time contract, where I don't work school holidays, for a number of years.

From next April my boss wants me to change from 3 days to 4 days (working the same hours per week) and also give up the term time part of my contract, so I would have to work school holidays.

Can she do this? What are my legal rights?

Many thanks

atticusclaw2 Tue 22-Dec-15 13:35:53

You are contractually entitled to work 3 days term time only (unless it was never agreed as a permanent change).

RideEmCowgirl Tue 22-Dec-15 13:43:23

I would have thought it would also depend on why you have a term time contract. Was it advertised as one or did you negotiate it i.e flexible working.

In my trust our flexible working requests are renewed yearly and there would have to be a concrete reason for continuing with term time i.e dependent children.

Also I think they can change your contract with a 3 month notice period.

Hopefully Flowery who is a HR expert will be along.

flowery Tue 22-Dec-15 13:51:42

Thank you smile

Atticus is also an expert.

The reason for the contract in the first place is irrelevant. Unless it's agreed as a temporary change specifically, then those terms and conditions are just as fixed as anyone else's.

HermioneWeasley Tue 22-Dec-15 13:54:35

Are there any Clauses in your contract about varying hours of work?

tanya678 Tue 22-Dec-15 21:41:00

Thanks for all your responses.

The term time contract was negotiated when I returned from maternity leave. My daughter is now 14. There are no clauses around varying hours.

Obviously I knew I would have to give it up at some stage, but I was hoping for another year or two.

I was told yesterday, so I guess the 3 months notice period fits with 1st April.

If I have to give up term time, I'd prefer to stay on 3 days per week rather than 4 days.

If I refuse the new contract, what are my legal rights?

flowery Tue 22-Dec-15 22:11:48

"Obviously I knew I would have to give it up at some stage"

Why? Those are your permanent terms and conditions, just as set in stone as those of your colleagues who happen to work full time hours. It's no easier for your employer to change your hours than it is for them to change someone else's hours who works 40 hours a week all year round.

"Dear boss. I understand you would like to change my contractual hours from X to y. I have taken some advice and I understand that my consent is required in order to change my terms and conditions of employment. Unfortunately I am not able to give my consent to the proposed change so will therefore be remaining on my existing terms and conditions"

atticusclaw2 Wed 23-Dec-15 08:22:34

Unfortunately, whilst those are your contractual terms they can ultimately be changed if the employer is really determined, as is the case with any contractual term. There are only really three ways of changing someone's terms. The first is by consent - i.e. they ask and you agree. The second is just to impose the change but this is risky and messy for the employer since you could bring a breach of contract claim and could "stand and sue" i.e send them formal (timely) notice saying that whilst you are continuing to work you are doing so under protest and are reserving your right to sue for breach of contract. The third way (most commonly used, particularly within the public sector) is to serve you with notice that unless you agree to the change they will be terminating your contract and offering you a new contract to start the very next day but on the new terms. This is a route of last resort for an employer since they would need to show that they had a fair reason for making the change (and this is more difficult where only one employee is affected) and it would potentially give you the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim. The employer would argue that if you failed to accept the new job on the new contract, you had failed to mitigate your loss (i.e make an effort to ensure that you had not suffered any loss of income).

The difficulty you have is that presumably you will be earning a lot more under the new contract due to the increased hours and so your "loss" is more difficult to define. This limits your realistic options somewhat.

flowery Wed 23-Dec-15 19:49:51

What some employers do is try and blag it, ignoring the fact that actually they need to use one of the three options mentioned above. They sometimes just try it on, and 'give notice' of a change and often employees will assume they have that right.

But if you push back and refuse consent, as I advised the OP, they then have to decide whether they want to attempt either of the other two options above. Neither of which is appealing or easy, so frequently they'll decide not to bother.

atticusclaw2 Thu 24-Dec-15 10:31:25

I agree smile

Noeuf Sun 03-Jan-16 20:20:19

I have a question? If the op said no to the change, could they then advertise and employ someone to work full time/part time with holidays and then make op redundant?

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