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DH's employer wants to change notice period - what rights does he have?

(5 Posts)
SaintGeorge Sat 19-Jul-08 15:03:42

DH's employer are considering imposing new contracts on all staff.

The only reason for change (that we can tell at this point) is that they want to amend the period of notice given by employees.

DH's current contract states that he only has to give 1 month notice if he decides to leave, they want to change this to 3 months.

This obviously benefits the company but offers nothing to the employees (the notice period given by the company would stay at the statutory amount). In fact, it is detrimental - who wants to tie themselves to a company for longer in an unstable job market?

I know DH can choose not to accept the contract, but where does he stand then? Is it as simple as they can choose to dismiss him for refusing?

TIA for any advice.

flowerybeanbag Sat 19-Jul-08 15:16:27

SaintGeorge it's not as straightforward as purely being beneficial for the company. If your DH is ever at risk of redundancy, for example, his notice pay would be 3 months rather than 1.

Yes the company benefit in terms of getting a bit more time to sort themselves out if someone leaves, and possibly making it more hassle for someone to leave, giving them a bit more stability, but actually enforcing it from their point of view would be very hard. If your DH found a new job and the new job wouldn't wait 3 months for him to start (which most would, if a candidate is the right person for the job), and he requested to be released early, they would quite possibly allow it rather than having a disgruntled employee sat there for 3 months. If he just announces he's not going to work 3 months and walks out, their only course of action (other than not such a glowing reference) would be to sue him for breach of contract, which it's not worth bothering with 99% of the time.

So you could view it as the company tying themselves to him for 3 months just as much as the other way round. In a climate where people's jobs aren't particularly secure, having a long notice period isn't such a bad thing at all.

Having said all that, he can refuse to accept it if he wants to, see here. As you'll see, they could terminate and then immediately re-employ on the new terms and conditions, your DH would then have to claim unfair dismissal which he may find difficult to win if there is a genuine business need for this.

For notice periods they probably wouldn't bother dismissing, depends how important it is to them. But I would advise your DH to think carefully about the situation before he refuses outright. Obviously I don't know what the circumstances are like where he is, but for a lot of people, especially now, an increased notice period is worth considering.

SaintGeorge Sat 19-Jul-08 15:34:21

Hi flowery, thanks for answering, I had hoped you would be around. smile

His statutory notice period is 12 weeks anyway, so from that point of view he isn't gaining anything. Other staff who have been there for a shorter period of time would still have their notice kept at the statutory 1 week per year employed if the company is the one giving notice. They are only proposing changing the amount expected from employees.

Seems unfair to me that they are only changing the term that benefits them. Can they do that?

He works in the caravan industry, a big employment sector in our area. The company he works for is the market leader but the parent company is looking to sell them off and seem to want to do a lot of restructuring first.

flowerybeanbag Sat 19-Jul-08 16:15:33

Oh ok. They can certainly try to make that change, but employees can refuse as per the link above. For something like this I would seriously doubt they'd bother pushing it very far if people refused tbh, it doesn't sound like something business-critical really. I'd say refuse to accept and leave the ball in their court.

SaintGeorge Sat 19-Jul-08 16:17:25

Right oh, cheers.

And thanks for the link, have bookmarked smile

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