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I work at a local authority and a restructure has combined lower level roles with higher level roles within my team. I am therefore being asked to undertake the role of my assistant alongside my original role. A number of new tasks are also being added that have never formed part of my role before and I have no knowledge or experience of them. The manager has said my role hasn’t changed much and there is no redundancy situation. I disagree and feel my role has changed more than 50%, in that I will be doing computer-based tasks that my assistant did. What can I do?
A redundancy situation is where there is a reduced need to carry out work of a particular kind. It doesn’t sound as if this has happened: you are being asked to carry out additional work.
If there was a reduced need to carry out your substantive role, there would be a redundancy situation. The question would then be whether the role and tasks you are now being asked to carry out are suitable alternative employment. What is suitable will depend on the particular circumstances. The fact you have no prior experience or tasks were previously done by an assistant does not necessarily mean it is not suitable.
If there is no redundancy situation, the question is whether the changes to your role are so significant as to amount to an attempt to vary your Contract of Employment. A unilateral variation could be a breach of contract. If that breach of contract were considered fundamental and you were to resign in response, you might have a claim for Constructive Dismissal. Again, much will depend on the reasonableness of what you are being asked to do and the resources your employer is providing to enable you to do that (e.g. are they going to train you or give guidance on the aspects you have not done before?). If your employer has a good “business reason” for the change (such as a better use of resources or better efficiency) and manages the change in consultation with you, it is unlikely that any Constructive Dismissal would be found to be unfair. Conversely, if the role were entirely different and resulted in a drop in status that might be a Constructive Unfair Dismissal. Further, if the new role were not manageable because of all the extra tasks, that might also constitute Constructive Unfair Dismissal.