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  • FIRST POST
    solarized
    Can my employer reduce my hours
    • #1
    • 27th Jan 09, 3:01 PM
    Can my employer reduce my hours 27th Jan 09 at 3:01 PM
    Hi there, wonder if you can help

    I have worked for my employer (This consists of the MD, me and 2 consultants) for just over 7 years.

    My MD is a bit niave when it comes to these things, and I know he won't have asked for professional advice, so thought I would try and find out where I stand.

    Basically 2 weeks ago he said he would need to cut my hours by 10 a week (25%) to reduce costs which would reduce my annual salary by 4,500. We had another meeting last week, I said I couldn't afford to work on that basis, so he said he would go away and think about it!

    I am pretty sure he is going to enforce this on me and I wondered where I stood. Would I be right in thinking that if he does want to go ahead with this, firstly I would have to agree, and if I don't agree, would he be therefore making my current contract redundant (40 hours) and offering a new contract (30 hours) so he would have to make me redundant?

    I've heard contrasting things so am really not sure where I stand!

    Thanks
Page 1
  • ceridwen
    • #2
    • 27th Jan 09, 6:50 PM
    • #2
    • 27th Jan 09, 6:50 PM
    The following article will be of interest to you:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/money/invest-save/companies-state-the-stark-choice-sacrifice-salary-or-jobs-will-go-1515004.html

    This gives the legal position - further down in the article.

    My calculations are that your current workweek is 40 hours and they are attempting to cut it to 30 hours - which, by sheer coincidence or otherwise, is the minimum workweek childless people have to work in order to fulfil eligibility criteria for Working Tax Credit.

    I'm not entirely sure how WTC works - think its based on yearly earnings....but you wouldnt by any chance be childless would you? If so - your employer may not be quite as naive as you think.....

    Apparent "naivety" is one of the things that employers sometimes do to achieve the desired objective - its not as common as the "paper tiger" putting on the "frighteners" approach...but it happens.
  • an9i77
    • #3
    • 28th Jan 09, 9:11 AM
    • #3
    • 28th Jan 09, 9:11 AM
    Hi Solarized

    Yes he can reduce your hours, but he is obliged to consult with you. This means that before he can put this in place he needs to justify the business reasons for what he is doing and show that he has considered your feedback. However in the event that you were to refuse, he could dismiss you (legally this is known as a dismissal for 'some other substantial reason') and re engage you on the new terms and conditions. If you think that the business justifcation he uses is not sound you could in theory take him to a tribunal for unfair dismissal, but if he can show an 'economic, technical or organisational' justifcation (not hard in these troubled times) then the tribunal would be likely to find in his favour. Hope this helps explain the legal position.
  • solarized
    • #4
    • 28th Jan 09, 9:55 AM
    • #4
    • 28th Jan 09, 9:55 AM
    I called ACAS and i'm even more confused now. According to them he would have to give me 7 weeks notice for each year worked and at the end of that period if I was not to agree he would therefore be making my 40 hour a week contract redundant, so I would therefore be able to take redundancy?

    Is this not correct?
  • ceridwen
    • #5
    • 28th Jan 09, 5:45 PM
    • #5
    • 28th Jan 09, 5:45 PM
    Well - it was a qualified solicitor that was quoted in the article I gave a link to. I would be inclined to believe a qualified solicitor over what anyone else says myself.....(always worth checking other posts by any poster to look for clues as to what job they do in The Real World - to see if they are a qualified solicitor or similar).

    Perhaps you could get one of those brief freeby legal sessions that are available? Perhaps it could even be worth paying for a brief session with an employment law specialist?

    I can quite see the point re employers being allowed to make changes to one's conditions - BUT I very much doubt they are allowed to make a "substantial" one - and cutting one's workweek is a "substantial" one in anyones book.

    Since ACAS say he would have to make you redundant (ie redundancy payment and the "dismissal" called "redundancy") - rather than sack you - if you dont' agree - then that is the verdict I would go with. A friend of mine who is a former solicitor recommended ACAS as a good source of advice to me - if its good enough for her...then its good enough for me.

    Always be a little cynical about whether employers are telling you the truth - or any poster (who - for all you know - might be an employer themselves). I've certainly had a LOT of experience of employers lying to me - to try and make me believe they could do something they arent actually legally entitled to do.
    Last edited by ceridwen; 28-01-2009 at 5:54 PM.
  • lizzykirk
    • #6
    • 28th Jan 09, 6:54 PM
    • #6
    • 28th Jan 09, 6:54 PM
    Hi - this link to the BERR (business enterprise and regulatory reform) gives you a redundancy pay calculator

    http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/employment/employment-legislation/employment-guidance/page33683.html

    HTH?
  • mark5
    • #7
    • 30th Jan 09, 5:38 PM
    • #7
    • 30th Jan 09, 5:38 PM
    After a certain amount of weeks on reduced hours your entitled to ask him to make you redundant.

    This entitles you to 1 weeks pay (max approx 320 ish) for each year service redundancy,in your case 7 x320 =2240 tax free

    Plus 7 weeks paid notice at your usual rate minus tax and NI.
  • BEN6600
    • #8
    • 31st Jan 09, 8:11 PM
    • #8
    • 31st Jan 09, 8:11 PM
    I'm in a similar position. My employer wants to reduce my hours in order to create a job for a new employee. Can he do this?
  • BEN6600
    • #9
    • 1st Feb 09, 8:49 PM
    • #9
    • 1st Feb 09, 8:49 PM
    I'm in a similar position. My employer wants to reduce my hours in order to create a job for a new employee. Can he do this?
    Originally posted by BEN6600
    Please help - anybody out there?
  • cmn1977
    Hi, I finally got through to ACAS today, my employer wants to reduce my hours temporarily ( or so she said), ACAS said that if there is a lay-off clause in my contract then they can do this, but as I have no written contract then they can't lay me off for the 2 days a week.

    If they want to change your contract then they have to give notice of the change and I think she said they would dismiss you from your old contract and re-employ you for the new. I hope I got that right, it was such a shock to get through to speak to someone!!

    If I have misunderstood would be grateful for correction!

    C
  • LittleVoice
    This entitles you to 1 weeks pay (max approx 320 ish) for each year service .
    Originally posted by mark5
    Just to advise that the maximum is now (effective 1 February) 350/week.
  • Mudd14
    I'm in a similar position. My employer wants to reduce my hours in order to create a job for a new employee. Can he do this?
    Originally posted by BEN6600
    Tricky one but in my opinion no he cant, reducing hours has to have good reason ie financia; problems. Reducing your hours and employing someone else to do those hours is completly rediculous!
  • solarized
    Update!

    Right my boss told me last night that he was going to have to reduce my hours from 39.5 to 28 as of the first of March.

    He is now saying as he discussed this with me on the 8th of January (at this stage it was just an idea, we also discussed me changing my role so I could do sales and therefore contribute to the companies profit) and sent an email to confirm the conversation (which is very vague) he is and I quote

    "not simply changing your contract as we have been through a period of consultation (I met with you all and wrote to you to confirm the meeting and the possibility this would happen) and I have given you reasonable notice of my intention to change your terms of contract and the reasons why this needs to happen."

    Am I still right in thinking because he would have to give me 7 weeks notice (which if this counts as his email as of the 8th Jan that would take me up to the end of this month) as I have still not agreed to the changes, he would be in breech of our contract if he goes ahead and implements it anyway?

    Because as far as I am aware I have had nothing to agree to until last night when he confirmed he would be cutting my hours and officially telling me what they are?
  • ceridwen
    I'm guessing that you arent in a Union to ask them - in that case try hunting round the T.U.C. website on the workers rights section to see what info there might be on this.

    The TUC has a range of leaflets - viewable on line - and has recently produced new ones to cope with the type of changes employers are trying to impose at present.

    The leaflet "Coping with the economic downturn" produced in December 2008 sounds like the right sort of title to look at:

    http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/downturn.pdf
  • snuggle69
    Update!

    Right my boss told me last night that he was going to have to reduce my hours from 39.5 to 28 as of the first of March.

    He is now saying as he discussed this with me on the 8th of January (at this stage it was just an idea, we also discussed me changing my role so I could do sales and therefore contribute to the companies profit) and sent an email to confirm the conversation (which is very vague) he is and I quote

    "not simply changing your contract as we have been through a period of consultation (I met with you all and wrote to you to confirm the meeting and the possibility this would happen) and I have given you reasonable notice of my intention to change your terms of contract and the reasons why this needs to happen."

    Am I still right in thinking because he would have to give me 7 weeks notice (which if this counts as his email as of the 8th Jan that would take me up to the end of this month) as I have still not agreed to the changes, he would be in breech of our contract if he goes ahead and implements it anyway?

    Because as far as I am aware I have had nothing to agree to until last night when he confirmed he would be cutting my hours and officially telling me what they are?
    Originally posted by solarized
    Did he back up your original meeting in writing? if so that was the beginning of the consultation, and I have never heard of having to give seven weeks notice, as far as I am aware it is a reasonable time, I.E 30 days?
  • BEN6600
    Please help - anybody out there?
    Originally posted by BEN6600
    My employer told me 10 days ago that I was to lose hours off my contract as a new job is being created for someone else. I don't know how many hours exactly or when it is going to happen. HR have been in to talk to him about the new role but he hasn't mentioned anything else to me - just left me in 'limbo land'. Can he treat me like this - leaving me anxious, unsettled and losing the will to fight, which I know I need to. I only work 26 hours a week so any cut in pay will leave me desperate financially. Is what he is doing legal - it is not obviously a financial decision or an operational decision as I always have first class appraisals and even top praise from contacts outside our organisation. Can anybody advise please. Thank you
  • ceridwen
    Hi Ben

    I dont know the legal position re whether your boss can do this or no - hopefully someone will come along that can tell you - I suggest you ask legal advice on this (have you got a legal insurance add-on to your household policy you can ask?). Otherwise try Citizens Advice Bureau and/or the TUC website to see if theres any answers there to this.

    Good luck.

    I understand what you mean by "limboland" - so I suggest you try and seek out what legal advice you can find about your position - maybe a quick browse through the law section in a decent local bookshop for books on workers rights? In the (very) slightly longer-term - I did notice on the TUC website that they have an up-to-date book for sale on workers rights (think it was about 9?) and think its probably well worth buying for someone who still has a noticeable number of years left to retirement - such as yourself. It will hopefully give you the advice you need now - and will keep you up to speed for any other employment problems that come up from here on in.

    Once you have done this and know where you stand legally - then its possibly the best thing to "bring it to a head" by going back to your employer directly and asking what "the state of play" is in his head and telling him your position (ie you'll fight - assuming he's in the wrong legally as well as morally) - so that you dont have to continue living in this limboland and can get on with your life one way or the other.

    I do know what its like having an axe hanging over your head and wondering whether its going to fall or no and, if so, when - so I sympathise.

    EDIT: just checked the TUC website:

    http://www.tuc.org.uk/tuc/rights_main.cfm

    This is a webpage with links to their free employment booklets and further down the page is how to buy this book - "Your Rights at work" - 9.99.
    Last edited by ceridwen; 08-02-2009 at 11:22 AM.
  • Mrsalice
    I'm in a similar situation to Ben. My boss has just employed someone who is on a 12 week probationary period. It says in the handbook they have the right to terminate your contract at any point during your probationary period, and when I started over 4 years ago I was told I wouldn't even have a proper contract till I'd successfully completed the probationary period and they were happy with me.
    Anyway, the new employee's been there 3 weeks now, and 2 weeks ago my boss said they were cutting all our contract hours by a certain percentage. I've refused this and said there is an employee on probationary so it would make sense to not employ them on a permanant contract as I can't afford to lose any of my contract. He says legally they can't get rid of the new employee (which I think is totally wrong) and he can cut my hours. But I'm sure its effectively giving my hours away. Please help with ANY ideas or opinions
  • Calvinandhobbs
    I called ACAS and i'm even more confused now. According to them he would have to give me 7 weeks notice for each year worked and at the end of that period if I was not to agree he would therefore be making my 40 hour a week contract redundant, so I would therefore be able to take redundancy?

    Is this not correct?
    Originally posted by solarized

    Be very careful with ACAS, some advisers are great, some dreadful. The above is not true. He needs to consult etc as other people have said, however, even if you protest, he can force the new contractual term by essentially breaching your old contract and starting the new terms. You then have four options:

    1. If you object to this you would be entitled to resign of course, claiming constructive dismissal by reason of your employer breaching your contract.

    2. Continue to work, in doing so accepting his breach of contract

    3. Continue to work for a short time, but under protest, make a written grievance (do this before April 5th, as the law is changing) by protesting you are not accepting the breach, so you can still leave and follow point 1. should the grievance not be resolved to your satisfaction

    4. Request to be considered for redundancy (not a right though, despite what someone else has said, unless the position you presently work has diminished in relation to more than just hours)

    Get professional advice, is hard to advise on full situation here, don't rely on ACAS for anymore than the basic.

    You may feel like you are in limbo, but your employer is under a duty to consult, so will not be able to give immediate reply. I appreciate it is hard for you to have a paycut, but maybe the employer's alternative is actually making job losses and to him this seemed the lesser of two evils?

    Anyway, good luck
  • Calvinandhobbs
    I'm in a similar situation to Ben. My boss has just employed someone who is on a 12 week probationary period. It says in the handbook they have the right to terminate your contract at any point during your probationary period, and when I started over 4 years ago I was told I wouldn't even have a proper contract till I'd successfully completed the probationary period and they were happy with me.
    Anyway, the new employee's been there 3 weeks now, and 2 weeks ago my boss said they were cutting all our contract hours by a certain percentage. I've refused this and said there is an employee on probationary so it would make sense to not employ them on a permanant contract as I can't afford to lose any of my contract. He says legally they can't get rid of the new employee (which I think is totally wrong) and he can cut my hours. But I'm sure its effectively giving my hours away. Please help with ANY ideas or opinions
    Originally posted by Mrsalice

    Your boss is a fool if he is being truthful, (but I suspect this newbie might be a cheaper option and that's why they are staying), it is always easier and safer to get rid of someone with less than a year's service, unless the reason is discriminatory
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