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 [10]

  • 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

      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

      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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