As a department manager for a large supermarket chain I have been informed that my position and that of a few other managers are to be condensed into fewer positions and that I have to apply for one of these new positions. My current contract is based on 40 hours. If after interviews I am not successful for the manager positions I have been informed that I will be put on the shop floor on a reduced hourly rate and my hours reduced to 28 hours per week. I have also been informed that the company will be taking on more shop floor workers to allow for ‘coverage’. My question is, although I appreciate the managerial positions may not be there any more, can they actually reduce my money and hours and then employ other staff to work the hours they can no longer offer me?
I understand that you have been informed that your position and those of other managers are to be condensed in to fewer positions and that you need to apply for one of these new positions. The situation you describe is a redundancy situation – i.e. where fewer employees are required to undertake work of a particular kind. If you do not secure one of the remaining managerial positions, you should be entitled to a redundancy payment if your employment is terminated on redundancy grounds. Depending on the redundancy process followed by your employer, you may also have a claim for unfair dismissal following termination of your employment.
You would not, however, be entitled to a redundancy payment if you are offered suitable alternative employment and you unreasonably refuse this offer. Suitable alternative employment would be employment which is suitable for you on an objective and also subjective basis. This requires an objective assessment of whether, having regard to the nature of the job offered (the whole of the job: status, content and terms, especially wages, hours and location) and the employee in question, the job is a match for the employee. On a subjective basis, the alternative employment must also be is suitable for the particular employee. From the limited information you have provided, I do not consider that the position you mention would be suitable alternative employment for you.
Please note that an unfair dismissal claim would need to be submitted within three months of the termination of your employment and a claim for a statutory redundancy payment needs to be submitted within six months of the termination of your employment. For both claims, you would need to go through the ACAS early conciliation process in advance of submitting claims.
*Helen Frankland assisted in answering this question.