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Employment Contract Questions


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Hi Guys,

 

Ive been employed by the same company for 5 years now and out of the blue everyone has been given a new contract to sign.

Myself and others have a few concerns and would be greatfull for any advice before signing.

 

There are 2 additions in the new contract which are not in the old contract:

 

1: Right of search

"The business reserves the right to carry out personal searches of employees in the workplace. They may be carried out at any time whilst an employee is in the workplace".

 

I have nothing to hide and have no problem for my bag to be searched and pockets to be emptied out but do have a couple of questions.

 

How far is a personal search allowed to go?

Are they allowed to touch you?

Am i allowed to have anyone with me?

 

2: Job Title/Duties

"You are employed as a Housekeeper"

"However there may be times when you will be asked to either temorarily or permanently change to an alternative job within the company".

 

In times of holiday and sickness i dont mind helping out at work if they are short staffed in certain areas but can they permanently change my job title within the company and make me do something i did not apply to do in the first place?

 

Any help at all would be greatfully received.

I have not signed contract yet but they are pushing me to return it!

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Difficult one to answer with certainty as the law on personal searches is untested by a court. Theoretically you can refuse to be searched and then if you are searched then you can press for assault. However, an employer may request for a clause to be put into your contract that would allow personal searches for specific reasons and this would probably be acceptable to a tribunal if the reasons method and frequency were of an acceptable level. Now, for an acceptable level there is little guidance but it is thought the type of search under S44 of the Terrorism Act (specific to the use of random searches) is probably best fit. This allows for an external body search, ie: coat pockets, handbag, sleeves of jacket or loose fitting trousers etc where there is no real bodily contact.

Now, this has never been tested at an ET so would it be a sackable offence to refuse such a search? Who would be doing the searching and is there a specific reason for it- intelligence based or random search? the wording you have quoted is too vague to be accepted as a proper change of a contract so I would suggest that if there are a small number of employees covered by this change that you request a clarification of the reasons and meaning of this change and insist that it is specified in the contract to avoid conflict.

The second part is faily innocuous as long as what is said is what is meant. The wording really should say an alternative job within the company that is suitable for the person's education, training and experience. that way they cant disclipline you for not being able to do a job you have never done before that requires prior knowledge.

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I don't think it is possible to say for sure what a search would entail. Unless the clause has more detail I imagine they would be allowed to conduct a search that is reasonable in the circumstances. The search probably could not be too invaseive but I don't think you would have an automatic right to have someone with you.

 

On the second point, yes the company would be entitled to ask you to do a different job, within reason. However I think this is very unlikely to ever get invoked. You should also remember that it would only be invoked if the company had too many cleaners, in which case you would be offered the choice of moving job or get made redundnant anyway.

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Surely the fundamental issue is whether the employer can simply terminate a contract and replace it with another one - there is a consultation period and certain procedures to be followed.

I am not a lawyer, so all my advice is provided on the basis that you will check them with a trained legal professional with legal insurance.:(

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