I have been working full time for my firm for 16 years and have always had a substantial amount of overtime allocated over weekends. They are now employing a weekend secretary which will impact the other secretaries financially, quite substantially. Is there any recourse on, what is, an effective pay cut?
If there is a potential claim here will depend on a number of different factors. Firstly, it would depend on how many hours overtime you have worked and if this is every weekend or if there is a pattern (you can only legally work 48 hours per week and you must have a signed agreement to say if you want to work more). It will also depend on what your contract states on overtime.
Legally, guaranteed overtime would count as normal working hours. The issue on why you need to consider the above is to determine whether your overtime hours have become contractual.
In employment law certain terms may become implied into an employment contract by ‘custom and practice’. This makes them contractually binding even if they are not written down anywhere. This area of law is rather complicated and there is always a degree of uncertainty as to whether a term has become implied in this way. It is usually only down to the tribunals to establish with certainty if that is the case. However, it does not prevent employees from raising this argument with their employers.
In general, your overtime would need to have been clearly communicated and consistently applied for a number of years before it is considered an implied contractual term. Therefore, something that is uncertain, or is not applied consistently is unlikely to qualify.
I would advise that you raise this issue with your employer/ HR department to see what they say about it.