Employers must avoid measures that give the illusion of flexible working while still...read more
My organisation is currently going through a restructure/redundancy process. I have been told that I am not being made redundant, but my job has now changed. I used to work on three large events a year, now I may be working on 25-30 events. As my job has not fundamentally changed I will not get a new job spec. I have two children so increasing my events and travel time will impact my family. Also I have been working on conference style events and one of the areas I will be expected to do is fundraising which is a completely different events sector. What are my rights as it is currently just assumed I will move into my new post no questions asked? I would be quite happy with redundancy given the situation.
It seems your employer has used the terms restructure and redundancy interchangeably, but there is a difference and having a restructure does not necessarily mean a redundancy situation exists.
A redundancy situation occurs when there is a reduced need for staff to perform a particular type of work e.g. organising conferences. A restructure is when the business reorganises itself to meet its commercial needs and it often, but not always, results in a redundancy situation. If the work in question is still required (e.g. organising events) but the changes are not agreed by the staff, those staff can be dismissed for the potentially fair reason of “some other substantial reason”. The departing employee receives their notice entitlement but no redundancy payment.
In practice employers tend to consult with staff about the proposed changes in order to comply with their legal obligations and to ensure staff understand the situation properly.
Your employer doesn’t believe the changes to your duties are fundamental and has presumed that you will agree to them. You do not agree with this and feel they are significant and will impact on your family commitments. It’s not clear from your question what the actual changes and how they will impact on your workload, your working and travelling hours and your family commitments. If the nature of your job is changing fundamentally and the changes are going to have a significant and unreasonable impact on your workload and family life, then this could give rise to a constructive dismissal claim by you. You should take legal advice on this if you believe the changes are going to have a completely unreasonable effect on you.
At this point you need to identify what is changing. Start with identifying what your current role is in your contract and in normal working practice. If your contract says your duties are quite generic (e.g. “event planning” only) and says you may be asked to do other tasks from time to time, this is probably why your employer believes the change is permitted contractually and there is no fundamental change to your duties. However, even where such flexibility is included in the contract, employers must still be reasonable in the way they exercise it.
I suggest you discuss your concerns with your employer during the consultation process, explain that you consider there is a genuine redundancy situation because there is a reduced need for staff to perform the type of work you and others do (i.e. large event planning in a specific sector), set out how the proposed changes will impact you, and discuss your concerns about the situation. Your employer may propose training or additional support in respect of the new sectors they want you to work, but they may also be willing to consider you applying for voluntary redundancy. If your employer agrees a redundancy situation exists, make clear you do not consider the new job is a suitable alternative as unreasonably refusing suitable alternative employment would technically mean you forfeit any redundancy payment you might be entitled to.
If your employer maintains that this is not a redundancy situation and still intends to go ahead with the changes to your job, then I recommend you emphasise to them the unreasonableness of the changes, how the duties will differ to your existing job and their impact upon your working hours, workload and your family commitments. If this does not encourage them to review the situation, you may wish to consider raising a grievance in which case you should check your employer’s grievance policy. If the outcome is not satisfactory, you should consider taking legal advice regarding your options.