I had my first child in 2020 and took maternity leave for one year. I am in a senior sales role and my contract of employment included bonus payments based on targeted sales performance. When I returned to work it was on a reduced hours basis – 2.5 hours a week. I have now been given a new contract of employment which does NOT include any bonus payments. I have queried this with my sales director but he has dodged the matter. I am refusing to sign the new contract.
What are my employment rights in regard to being paid bonuses as per my ‘old’ full-time contract ?
Other sales staff are being paid a ‘team bonus’, but I am excluded from this on basis that my salary is higher than the other staff.
I presume from the information you’ve provided that you’re returned to work in the same role and that the only change you have agreed to is that you are now working 2.5 days a week instead of 5 days a week. If that is the case and you haven’t also agreed to change your role or the work you do, the starting point should be that the only changes to your contract of employment are to your working hours and any payments you are due would also normally be pro-rata’d. For example, as you’re working 50% of the time you were before, you’d receive 50% of your previous holiday entitlement and you presumably also agreed that your salary would be reduced in the same way as well.
The company shouldn’t need to issue you with a new contract to do that; they could do it via a supplementary letter instead which refers to the key clauses. Alternatively, if they wanted to update the contract it should only be those clauses which change. It sounds as though they may be trying to use the change in your hours to make other changes to your contract which you haven’t agreed to.
In terms of the bonus – unless you agreed to change the bonus plan as part of your negotiation on working shorter hours, you should still be entitled to this in the same way as you were before (but on a pro rata basis).
If they are refusing to honour the bonus plan (on an amended pro-rata basis) then you could potentially have a claim for discrimination and it could also be in breach of the laws around part-time working.
Under the Part Time Workers Regulations, the legal position is that part-time workers “have the right not to be treated less favourably than an employer treats a comparable full time worker either as regards to the terms of their contract or by being subjected to any other detriment by any act, or deliberate failure to act, by their employer”. Any difference in treatment needs to be based on something objective instead. It seems unlikely that your employer could find an objective reason for removing your bonus plan given the information you’ve provided and therefore it is likely that refusing to give you a pro-rata bonus will fall into this category.
Your right to the separate team bonus will depend on the terms of the bonus, why it is paid, how it is calculated and whether you were entitled to it before you went on maternity leave. In the same way as the other bonus, if you were entitled to it before you went on maternity leave they cannot just remove it from you because your salary is higher. Again they would have to show that they had a legitimate reason for treating you differently which wasn’t connected to your part-time hours, but we would need more information about this bonus to be able to give more guidance.
As a starting point I recommend you speak to the Sales Director again and explain that you are concerned that the removal of the bonus from the new contract and refusing to give you the team bonus is discriminatory and breaches the part-time working regulations. I’d explain that you understand you should be entitled to the bonuses on a pro-rata basis along with any other benefits and that just because you are now working part time does not mean that the bonuses do not apply. I would also recommend you check carefully that there are not any other changes to the contract. If there are, and they are more than just minor typing differences or terminology, you should raise those as well during the same conversation. I know it may be difficult to approach with him, but if he tries to dodge the matter again I would explain that you need to fully understand why he is saying the bonuses no longer apply to you so you can consider your options further. If he still refuses to discuss it I would recommend speaking to HR.
Good luck with the conversation and I hope he realises the error that he/the company have made and that the bonus clauses are re-instated for you.