I have worked at the same company for over five years and have always had the same hours. I have never unreasonably refused work and have been flexible about the hours of work. My initial statement of employment classed me as a casual worker on a zero hours contract. I believe that over the years my status changed to that of employee, due to long term custom and practice. The reason I ask is that my manager is now giving me no hours after I reported him for offensive remarks about a colleague. Can I sue for constructive dismissal?
The answer to your question around whether you have any ability to bring legal claims against your employer will, in part, depend upon your employment status. Only employees can bring the claims that you have referenced, those with worker status cannot. The fact that you have worked the same hours consistently for a number of years does not automatically mean that your employment status has changed from worker to employee and there will be various factors to consider when determining your true employment status. It might be worth asking your organisation’s HR department to clarity how they see your employment status and to confirm the reasons why.
If you do have employee status, then you can still work under a zero hours arrangement, but if you have been given the same hours consistently for nine years then a sudden change in this pattern after your raising a complaint could give rise to a breach of contract sufficient to entitle you to bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. You should try and ascertain from your employer why your hours have suddenly been changed after so long.
*Charlotte Geesin is Legal Director of Howarths, a Yorkshire based, award-winning Employment Law, HR, Business Immigration and Health & Safety provider for SMEs across the UK.