Permanent contract to zero hours... Help!

(36 Posts)
RaininSummer Fri 23-Oct-20 19:14:49

I wonder if anyone can advise about the best thing to do here as Google isn't helping much. I have messaged citizen's advice but that may take a while.

The story is that I have worked 4 days a week at least for the same smallish employer for over 9 years and am now almost 58. I was part time furloughed since April working 14 hrs a week. Work has fizzled so boss told me this week that she wants to move me to a zero hour contract and envisages between 4 and 14 hours work a week but obviously not guarenteed . I understand how zero hrs contracts work but am concerned that I am being shafted in a way because if redundancy then comes along, I will have lost all my qualifying years.

My question is, would I be really stupid to accept this or would I be wrong to argue and force redundancy assuming that is an option? I would rather stay there really but am concerned this is a tactic and I will regret it when I earn tuppence a week for months and then am let go. Arggg. Thanks in advance if anybody can advise.

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Sparklfairy Fri 23-Oct-20 20:54:27

Bumping for you. I've never been zero hours but I wouldn't touch this with a bargepole tbh. You'll lose almost all your employee rights, and rights to redundancy. At least if you refuse to sign you leave the ball in their court to manage you out and pay redundancy. Hopefully someone else will be along soon to give you more specific advice.

RaininSummer Fri 23-Oct-20 21:17:28

Thank you Spark. Feeling stressed.

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flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 00:14:51

Why would you think you’d lose all your qualifying years for redundancy in the future? Is she suggesting a break in service? If so, she’d have to terminate your employment, presumably by reason of redundancy.

Sounds to me like a simple hours change from 14 hours guaranteed to 4 hours guaranteed but flexibility up to 14.

Why are you thinking you’ll lose all your rights just because your hours will be variable/flexible rather than fixed?

flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 00:15:55

Have you seen a copy of the new contract, or of the proposed contract variation? Is there something she’s said to make you think this?

Porridgeoat Sat 24-Oct-20 00:19:58

There are no guaranteed hours with zero hours contract. They could give you no hours and not make you redundant.

In your shoes I’d decline the zero hours contract saying you need the hours and guaranteed cash.

flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 00:29:42

Even if it’s genuinely zero hours rather than between 4 and 14, there’s no reason to think you’d lose all your employment rights. Some zero hours people are workers, some are employees. No reason to assume your employment status will change if you’re just doing the same job but with fewer hours.

RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 00:49:45

Thanks for replies. It is a zero hours being offered with predictions of 4 to 14 hours work if various things happen in the future. I thought that a zero hours contract meant that if I am then made redundant later only the previous 12 weeks earnings are considered to calculate redundancy pay rather than my previous wage.

Also there could be weeks with no work which I thought I had read count as a break in contract which would mean I wouldnt have 9 years continuous service. I think there is a very high chance that I would have no work eventually as 99 percent of my normal job has gone. I know my boss is shrewd and will have thought this through.

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RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 00:51:06

Just for clarity, my hours up to now have been 28 a week so this is a massive change (and with 5 days notice I might add)

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S00LA Sat 24-Oct-20 00:58:20

You don’t have to argue or force anything.

Just attend the meeting, get a copy of the new contract she is proposing. Then Email her to say you have considered her request but unfortunate can’t agree to it as you need the guaranteed hours and income.

Fiddlersgreen Sat 24-Oct-20 01:02:42

I was made redundant in January and my redundancy was calculated using my contracted hours so in your position I’d be concerned that zero hours contract means no entitlement to redundancy pay.

Incidentally, for the previous 3 years I’d been working double my contracted hours every week so I was able to appeal my redundancy amount using the prior 3 months payslips and get a higher amount.
Again, if you have some weeks working 4 hours, or zero, and then some working more, I would think that would negatively affect any redundancy pay

flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 08:06:37

”I thought that a zero hours contract meant that if I am then made redundant later only the previous 12 weeks earnings are considered to calculate redundancy pay rather than my previous wage.”

Yes, redundancy pay is based on what you are currently receiving not what you earned historically. You said you thought all your qualifying years would be wiped out though- you’d still have all that. Make sure the new contract clearly states your continuous service date.

”Also there could be weeks with no work which I thought I had read count as a break in contract which would mean I wouldnt have 9 years continuous service.”

No, not at all. Weeks you are not working because no work is available don’t break your service. If work dwindles and she doesn’t need you anymore at all, at some point it will need to be redundancy.

Have you actually seen the new contract?

RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 08:57:52

Hi again. Thanks for all replies. No I haven't seen it yet but she wants it to start from Monday! I have work to do for 4 hours on Monday and Tuesday then she is expecting me to go home for rest of the week. The more I think about it the more I realise how unfair and ridiculous such short notice of this change is apart from the fact that it is a way of wriggling out of redundancy procedures.

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flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 09:14:57

RaininSummer

Hi again. Thanks for all replies. No I haven't seen it yet but she wants it to start from Monday! I have work to do for 4 hours on Monday and Tuesday then she is expecting me to go home for rest of the week. The more I think about it the more I realise how unfair and ridiculous such short notice of this change is apart from the fact that it is a way of wriggling out of redundancy procedures.

Put it in writing that you are happy to consider her proposal and will do so once you have seen the terms. Until then your current terms and conditions remain in effect so you will be working 14 hours this week.

If she wants you to go home and has no work for you then she either needs to lay you off or put you on short time working (both of which would require a contract clause enabling her to do it), or pay you for those hours anyway, as long as you are ready able and willing to work.

RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 09:23:13

Thank you flowery. That sounds a good starting point. My normal contract is 28 but during furlough was doing 14. I do have time off in lieu as well which I could take to make it up this week if that would work. I do feel my role is redundant now and I am being asked to hang around on a tiny number of hours just to save the firm money.

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crankysaurus Sat 24-Oct-20 09:27:48

I would definitely hold off till you've seen the contract, and tell her that you're not starting on the new terms next week, and then if you're not happy with it don't sign it. If your work is going to dwindle to nothing would you be better taking redundancy now and looking for something else (I know that's easier said than done at the moment)?

flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 09:32:06

So you have been furloughed for 50% and working 50%? Since July, presumably?

In that case your contractual hours remain 28, and you are entitled to be paid in full for hours worked and 80% for un worked time, which I’m assuming is what’s in your furlough agreement. If your furlough agreement ends on 31 October then you will then revert to being entitled to 100% pay for your contractual hours. If your furlough agreement doesn’t end, you’ll continue to get 80% for hours not worked but your boss will no longer be able to claim under the furlough scheme.

If she has at least 20% work for you, she could seek your agreement to go on the new Job Support Scheme, whereby you’ll get 73% of your pay and she’ll only have to pay you for hours worked + 5% of the rest.

RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 09:55:24

Thanks again. That is very helpful.

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RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 11:23:27

Cranky, soory didn't mean to ignore your contribution. Yes, indeed, redundancy is what would be best but it hasn't been offered

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Florencex Sat 24-Oct-20 11:51:08

I really would not accept this new contract. You have nine years service on a 28 hour week. She could employ you for four hours a week for three months, then make you redundant and you will get 1/7 th of the redundancy money you would get if she makes you redundant now.

The employer is in my opinion definitely trying to wriggle out of redundancy pay.

RaininSummer Sat 24-Oct-20 12:37:00

Thank you Florencex. I think so too.

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flowery Sat 24-Oct-20 13:21:00

RaininSummer

Cranky, soory didn't mean to ignore your contribution. Yes, indeed, redundancy is what would be best but it hasn't been offered

If she hasn’t been clear that redundancy is the alternative you need to make sure you do get clarity on that! Obviously it should be, so just get a copy of the proposed contract, and confirmation of the alternative, then you can make an informed decision based on what suits you best. For some people that would be redundancy, for others it would be continuing employment on reduced hours.

crowsfeet57 Sun 25-Oct-20 01:42:35

Maybe try to take some advice from CAB or ACAS. I worked for a local authority as a manager for 7 years but most of my team had been there for over 20 years. Two years ago they suddenly announced 'a new way of working.' This involved a major change of working hours , my role was being downgraded to a senior, the seniors had to work one weekend in three on what they called a rolling contract. Except it wasn't a true rolling contract. If you worked a weekend you had Tuesday and Wednesday off the week before so you actually worked 10 days on the trot without a break. All staff had to work every bank holiday.

We all refused. They flatly refused to make us redundant and said they could impose the changes because of the 'needs of the business.' Being in the union and being demoted put me in a slightly stronger position than my team, so they agreed to make me redundant. The rest of my team were all fired. Two tried to keep their jobs, one offered to cut his hours and go part-time, but they would not agree days with him. Another agreed to the conditions but was told she had to change her days, they were actually advertising the role with her existing days but would not allow her to keep them. They sacked the whole team who all had between 20 and 40 years service. This they justified by saying it was a business need.

The point I am making in a rather clumsy way is that redundancy is not the only outcome. They can enforce a new contract if the needs of the business justify it and if you refuse it they can sack you.

Florencex Sun 25-Oct-20 02:39:26

crowsfeet57

Maybe try to take some advice from CAB or ACAS. I worked for a local authority as a manager for 7 years but most of my team had been there for over 20 years. Two years ago they suddenly announced 'a new way of working.' This involved a major change of working hours , my role was being downgraded to a senior, the seniors had to work one weekend in three on what they called a rolling contract. Except it wasn't a true rolling contract. If you worked a weekend you had Tuesday and Wednesday off the week before so you actually worked 10 days on the trot without a break. All staff had to work every bank holiday.

We all refused. They flatly refused to make us redundant and said they could impose the changes because of the 'needs of the business.' Being in the union and being demoted put me in a slightly stronger position than my team, so they agreed to make me redundant. The rest of my team were all fired. Two tried to keep their jobs, one offered to cut his hours and go part-time, but they would not agree days with him. Another agreed to the conditions but was told she had to change her days, they were actually advertising the role with her existing days but would not allow her to keep them. They sacked the whole team who all had between 20 and 40 years service. This they justified by saying it was a business need.

The point I am making in a rather clumsy way is that redundancy is not the only outcome. They can enforce a new contract if the needs of the business justify it and if you refuse it they can sack you.

I think your colleagues were badly informed and advised.

OP definitely cannot be forced to accept a change from a permanent contract to a zero hours contract because of the “needs of the business”. She cannot be “sacked” because of the needs of the business.

The OP’s employer must make any dismissal fairly, the only fair dismissal mechanism that the “needs of the business” comes into is redundancy.

Porridgeoat Sun 25-Oct-20 09:14:06

She don’t need to make you redundant as she can just give you zero hours instead and that’s perfectly ok with a zero hours contract

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