Hours to increase, but I don’t want to do more days

I have worked for more than a decade full time and the last six part time, reduced hours three days a week. We have been through a consultation period for this to be extended to reduced hours five days a week to cover the increased work load. There are three options – do the five days, but earn less pro rata due to the tax threshold and I don’t want to do five days due to childcare; it is called a restructured post and so doesn’t attract redundancy pay, but they will offer some money as a goodwill gesture; decline and be dismissed. Surely the role is being made redundant since it is a change to the contracted hours?

I note that your employer has performed a consultation with you regarding your role to increase your hours from 5 hours per day, 3 days per week to 5 hours per day, 5 days per week.  You confirm that this change is not acceptable to you as it causes difficulty for childcare and financial reasons.

It seems that this has been pitched as a restructure to your role rather than a redundancy situation.

However, if there is a reduced requirement for employees to perform a certain type of work (i.e. a part time role over three days) then it may be that you can argue that your position is, in fact, at risk of redundancy and the alternative available is not suitable – i.e. that you have worked for six years part time and are unable to increase your hours due to childcare and financial commitments.

In the event of a redundancy situation, you are entitled to work or be paid your notice, in addition to a statutory redundancy payment which is calculated as follows; –

  • Half a week’s pay for each complete year of service below the age of 22;
  • One week’s pay for each complete year of service between the ages of 22 and 41; and
  • one and a half week’s pay for any complete years worked over the age of 41.

The weekly wage for the purposes of this calculation is capped at £508 and the maximum years of service that can be taken into account is 20.

Therefore, as a first step, and if you do not wish to work the new hours, my advice would be to request a meeting with your employer, explain that you cannot work the new hours as they are not a reasonable alternative to the current arrangement, ask them to reconsider and if they refuse assert that you feel that you are redundant and should be paid your notice plus a redundancy payment.

If your employer refuses this then, in general, where an employee does not agree to change their terms and conditions of employment, an employer can either accept the rejection of the change and carry on as before, introduce the new terms as a fait accompli or terminate the contract of the employee with notice and offer employment on the new terms

If your employer simply imposes the requirement on you to work the new hours, you can; –

  • Agree and work the new hours
  • Resign and bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal
  • Refuse to work under the new terms and leave your employer to take whatever action it deems appropriate
  • “stand and sue” – i.e. work under the new terms but under protest and at the same time bring a claim for breach of contract
  • Work under the new contract and bring a claim for unfair dismissal in respect of the current contract

I would advise that you seek specialist legal advice before taking any of these steps and in the event that your employer does not agree to either retract the proposed change or make you redundant.

*Lucy Flynn assisted in answering this query.

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