Should shift change workers be fully compensated?

I work for a company that is going through a site exit consultation. It is planned that redundancies will begin next year and the final date of site exit will conclude by 2020. The powers that be have put forward a proposal for a good package. Part of the proposal includes a compensation that is offered to those who work shifts when they move to normal day hours, but should they not get paid their full shift allowance, rather than a percentage of it, especially as the end is site closure? One reason for not doing so is that those who already work days will see this as inequitable.

You confirm that you work for a company that is going through a site exit consultation and that redundancies will begin next year with the final date of site exit due to conclude by 2020.

The employees have been offered an enhanced redundancy package which, although you accept is more beneficial than statutory redundancy terms, you believe that there are reasons to counter propose more favourable terms that guarantee their pay.

The closure of a workplace generally means that an employee who works at that workplace will be redundant if that was the place where the employee was employed and there is no suitable alternative employment at another workplace.  Unless there is a contractual entitlement to an enhanced redundancy payment then workers are entitled to either work or be paid for their contractual notice period and also to receive a statutory redundancy payment as compensation for the loss of their employment.  Statutory redundancy pay 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 employee’s weekly wage for the purposes of this calculation is capped at £489 and the maximum years of service that can be taken into account is 20.

Therefore anything over and above this in terms of a final redundancy payment would be classed as an enhancement and beneficial to the employees.  Clearly you should try to be careful not to damage any such offer and perhaps you could ask for any offer for a final payment to be protected or accepted, leaving you to negotiate on the proposals regarding the lead-up to the closure.

In terms of the proposals on the change to the shift workers’ terms and conditions, in general, terms and conditions of employment can only be changed by agreement. It is therefore up to the shift workers to agree this change or not as they see fit.  However, the risk of refusing this change is that they may be dismissed with notice and offered re-engagement on the new terms, which would effectively diminish their losses if they decided to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. Also, you do not say whether the change to the shift workers’ working arrangements is being offered as an alternative to immediate redundancy.  If this is the case, it is up to the shift workers to argue that this is not a suitable alternative but again, the risk if this argument is not accepted is that their losses could be reduced if they decided to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

Clearly the most beneficial way to progress would be by agreement with both your Trade Union and the employees.  Our advice for the union rep would be to first try to understand the employees’ point of view and then work closely with the Trade Union and perhaps even the Trade Union’s Solicitors to agree the most beneficial approach to the negotiation.  The Trade Union has thus far been supportive, but if there is a risk of the current enhanced offer being retracted and the employees being left with a worse deal then a very careful approach needs to be adopted.  Perhaps an agreement can be reached with the employer to accept those terms that are agreed (such as an enhanced redundancy payment when the site closes) and only negotiate on the terms which you believe could be improved (such as the offer to enhance shift workers’ payments in the interim).

If you do want us to review your position further for you, please contact Tracey Guest on 0161 672 1425.

*Lucy Flynn assisted in answering this question.   

 

 





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