Job changed while on sick leave: ask the expert

I am a manager at a national company. I have been off sick for 5 weeks. Today I received notification that they have changed my job role without consultation. My wage, job title & hours of work remain. However, my role has been totally changed, but there will be no formal contract change, nor any formal role profile change in HR’s eyes. I will operationally cease to perform my other duties & spend all my time performing one task. This is been passed off as a local operational decision only. My question is can the company do this or do I have a right to fight?

I understand that whilst you have been off sick, you have received notification that your employer has changed your job role. Your wage, job title and hours of work remain the same, but your employer has decided that you will no longer perform some of your original duties. I understand that there will be no formal contract change, nor any formal role profile change in HR’s eyes but that your duties will simply change.

You firstly need to check whether this change is authorised by your contract of employment. If it is, then your employer can make this change without your express agreement and is likely to simply notify you when the change takes effect.

If, however, the change is not authorised by your contract of employment, any change without your consent, will be a breach of your contract of employment. When attempting to make changes which are not authorised in the contract, your employer has a number of options. It can seek your agreement to the changes, and dismiss you if you refuse. You may then have a claim for unfair dismissal and (if your employer does not serve notice) breach of contract. Or, your employer may terminate your existing contract of employment and offer re-engagement on the new terms. In this situation you may also have a claim for unfair dismissal and (if your employer does not serve notice) breach of contract, but the offer of re-engagement may reduce your losses.

If your employer simply goes ahead and imposes the change, you then have a number of options. You may decide to resign and claim constructive dismissal if this constitutes a fundamental breach of your contract of employment, although I would always advise you to seek further legal advice before resigning from your employment. Alternatively, you can ‘stand and sue’ by continuing to remain employed, but making your objections to the new terms clear and submitting a breach of contract claim whilst remaining employed by your employer.

As a first step, my advice would be to submit a written grievance objecting to the proposed change to your contractual terms and conditions of employment. This would ensure that your employer is clear of your feelings from the outset. This may be enough to prompt your employer to reconsider the changes. If your employer still attempts to push through the changes, as I have explained above, you may have a number of claims, most notably breach of contract.

If the matter is still unresolved, please do not hesitate to contact Tracey Guest at Slater Heelis on 0161 975 3823 for further advice.

Comments [1]

  • Ginny says:

    I work for a large company who have closed offices and reshaping others.
    I have 25 years service and have continued to work pat retirement.
    All other caters have been made redundant but i believe that they are hoping i will leave are will reduce my hours .It feels like i am discriminated against on age so they will not have to pay redundancy.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *