Can my employer reduce my hours and give them to someone else?

My employer has lost a contract for certain funding which means job losses for certain roles. Now my job is paid by other funding to what they actually lost. My boss has created more positions via the funding I am paid through which would give them the same job title as me. We have all been told to apply for our jobs or other jobs.  My job hasn’t changed and neither have my working hours, but I have a colleague who knows there’s a position that’s been created near to the hours that she was doing but she doesn’t want that. She wants my post because mine is 10 hours more. My question is can they take hours off me and give them to her and give me the part-time position? It’s a bit odd and doesn’t make sense that my employer would give my job to someone else and give me less hours. Can an employer reduce my hours?

I note from your question that your employer has lost a contract for certain funding which could result in job losses. This is likely to be a redundancy situation. In order to avoid claims for unfair dismissal in a redundancy situation, your employer would need to follow a fair redundancy process. This will involve warning affected staff of potential redundancies, consulting with affected staff and exploring suitable alternative employment for redundant employees. The details of what a fair process will involve depends on the individual factual circumstances. It may, for example, involve reorganising positions and requesting applications from existing staff and it may also involve “bumping”, which is effectively a process whereby a redundant employee is given a non-redundant employee’s job.

If there is no redundancy situation and this is simply a reorganisation with no loss of jobs, this is slightly different. Your employer may want to vary the terms of a contract of employment because of changed economic circumstances or due to a reorganisation of the business such as this. Assuming that you are an employee then your existing contract of employment can only be varied with the agreement of both parties. If your employer is proposing to change your contractual terms then they should fully consult with you and explain and discuss the reasons for the change. If you do not agree to the changes then your employer may still try to impose a new contract unilaterally, but they will be in breach of your current contract and you may well have grounds to make legal claims against them. If you do not agree to any change in your contract and your employer dismisses you, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal and the strength of this claim would depend on the fairness of the process followed by your employer in attempting to secure your consent and eventually dismissing you.

I would advise you to make it clear to your employer that you do not agree to any change in your hours and that you wish to remain on your current contract. If this does not resolve matters and your employer attempts to change your contractual hours, I would advise you to take further specific legal advice on next steps and in particular in relation to a potential claim for unfair dismissal.

Please note that any claim for unfair dismissal must be submitted to an employment tribunal within three months of the termination of your employment and you would need to go through the Acas early conciliation process before any tribunal would accept your claim.

Should you require any clarification on the above points then please contact Tracey Guest of Slater Heelis LLP on 0161 672 1425.

*Helen Frankland has assisted with this answer.

Comments [29]

  • Richard says:

    Hi, I wonder if you could help? My partner is an Executive Assistant, and the Exec she looks after has decided to step down and move to a NED capacity to reduce working. His role has been filled internally, and the new Exec has chosen to bring his EA with him, thus forcing my partner out of her current role. Whilst they have made some alternative offers within the business, she is unsatisfied with the offers. Do they have a legal right to do this? Could this possible lead to a successful settlement agreement/unfair dismissal claim?

  • Mandy Jaye says:

    Hi I wondered if you could answer a question. I have been working for a company for over 3 years and have been on furlough since April 2020. My job was being done by my immediate Manager whilst I was on furlough. I have just been contacted by the company I work for and have been told I am to be made redundant. The duties I carried out are going to be done by my immediate Manager who gets to keep his job and do mine. Is this deemed as a fair redundancy?

    Thank you for your help, I did try to contact ACAS regarding this but their call volume is so high they cannot place anyone on hold to speak to them.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Have they consulted you and explained the process and the reasons behind the redundancy? They should do so and give you an opportunity to question why, for instance, your manager’s role is not under threat. The process of selection for redundancy should be fair, for instance, is the reason your manager is not in the pool due to the specific skills and experience they have? Is the reason for making your post redundant to cut costs or is there some other reason who you think your role has been selected for redundancy?

  • Lauretta Terry says:

    I have a 4 hrs signed contract but my boss has said we need to reduce costs and has she cut hours down so I’m now doing 3 hrs is this legal as I have not agreed to this.

  • Becca says:

    Hi I’m currently on a 52 week contract at work but they want to reduce it to 35 weeks for business efficiency, as they put it. I don’t want to agree to this as I like my job and don’t want to move and they said they would send me somewhere else with more hours but not guaranteed. Also they just took on new staff with contacts of 40+ hours. Can they do this?

  • Charlene Cleminson says:

    I’m on a 0 hour contract but I have been working 18 hours a week for the past 22 months same hours same days. Now they have told me they have no hours for me the night before I’m meant to be in and have give my hours to another member of staff. Is this right can they do that is there something I can do?

  • Courtney says:

    I work for a catering company & the V.P is the owners bff. They run things based on their feelings which is ridiculous & unprofessional. The VP is hooking up with the younger guys & then giving them hours. I was working full time & then they had someone come in to help in my department & now I’m lucky to even get one day a week where the other person is getting 4. When I asked why I was told it’s slow & they can’t give me hours they don’t have, but if they don’t have hours then why are other people getting hours? I dnt have a written contract but I would like to know if I have any options or if you have any suggestions?

    • Mandy Garner says:

      I have replied to your email.

      • Elaine says:

        thats what has happened to me recently. i have been with the company for over three years. and im doing a job i have done for many years. now a new younger person has just started she is very inexperienced but is still getting more than double the hours im getting, before she started i would of been getting a lot more. i was doing 4/ 5/ 6 shifts a week. last week i got 1 and she got 6. now this week i have 2 and she has 4. what can i do. i feel I’ve been training her to take my job

  • Polly Tardif says:

    I have some questions, I work for a resteraunt that has cut everyone’s hours down to 15 hours per week and then hired 20 new people, my pay check is now such that I can not pay bills and yet they insist that they are doing it because they have to hire so many new people, I do not understand why we are hiring to begin with, we are not in a very busy area and these changes have hurt everyone financially, can someone please explain this to me

    • Mandy Garner says:

      What does your company say about the reasons for hiring new people and reducing the hours? Have you accepted the changed hours? If your employer seeks to change your terms and conditions you do not have to accept. It will depend on whether they have strong business reasons for doing so, but it is hard to gauge from what you have said eg do they need people with different skills, etc?

    • Elaine Drabble says:

      Hi we have just had same done to us I have worked same hrs for 9yrs and now it’s a rota and they drop are hrs whenever it suits and I do 30 hrs but had to make do with 19 last wk and they have brought younger workers in cause it’s cheaper I don’t know who to talk to

  • Caroline Chambers says:

    Hi, I have a contract for 30 hours a week working Monday to Friday, days are written in the contract, I have been at my place of work for 14 months , my new manager gave me a letter saying my hours are to be cut to just 18 hours one week and 24 the next and this is to include working the weekends, I am the cook in a rest home so my job is still available, the hours I normally work are being given to someone els, a person who I believe applied to work at weekends. I do not agree to this and I will not be signing the letter, also my contract states I may be asked to work More hours if needed to cover staff shortage( which I have done on occasion) but it does not say anything about working less hours. Where do I stand with this please?

  • Paul Lawlor says:

    I need to ask a question but dont know where to post. Can someone help.?

    I work as security for a pub/night club. We used to work Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. The owner has cut Security on Thursday and Fridays now (despite Thursday nights being the busiest in the bar) basically he has given the DJ a supervisor/barman role on friday nights and he is also to remove any trouble makers. (Basically he is also security) he has no PSA licence and forcefully removes customers.

    Have me and my security colleagues got any rights in this case as we only work on Saturday nights now. They have also began a comedy club on thursdays upstairs in the nightclub area.

  • Deborah Dudley says:

    Am on a zero hours contract and my manager has just told me that he’s going to be taking hours from myself and giving them to a 17 year old as she cost almost half as much as I do. Can they do this I’ve been there for 2+years?

  • Angela rookledge says:

    Hi i couldn’t make work today so I told my boss I would be able to make it I’ve got a 16hours contact with them. And he got back to me saying that he had to ring someone else to cover me. So the person he has asked to cover me. Is covering me for three days because it is not fair on asking her to come in for one day. Can he do that I’m losing money and got kids.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      If you have a permanent contract for 16 hours, then you should be paid for 16 hours per week even if you work less. Only if you have a ‘zero hours’ contract can your employer dictate the hours you work.

  • Joanne Harrison says:

    Can my boss take hours off me to create another job for someone else doing the same job?? I work 50 hours a week and have done for the past 12 years, my boss now wants another worker bring in for 16 hours but needs me to reduce my hours, I’ve not got a writer contract but a verbal one.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Joanne,
      Firstly, you are entitled to a written contract. Nevertheless a verbal contract is binding and if you have done 50 hours for 12 years that is clearly your contract. To change this your employer would need to consult with you and gain your agreement.

  • Margaret Vickers says:

    I have worked for my company 12 years been full time 10 years. There is a part time worker who works with me for 4hrs. The company has said to cut costs they want my job to be a job share. I would work 4 hours and she would work the other 4. They offered me the other 4hrs at another branch for the other 4hr as that position would be made available in the near future. I asked if this was happening to anyone else in my area and apparently I am the only one. In another office there is 3 workers 2 full time and 1 part time. He said they had to stay at their position as it was a business centre evenue though there is not that much work for them to do. All my manager has said is that the company want job share in all offices but I have since found out that they have given another member of staff full time hours in another office in my area and there is no mention of job share in that one. Could you tell me where I stand as I know that because I have refused the other position due to not being to get there and I collect my granddaughter from nursery after work that they are going to reduce my hours. Why am I the only one in my area that this is happening to and can they do this to me.

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