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Working hours cut, confused about the reason


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Hi, I work as a cleaner in a school, last year the company I work for lost the contract and I was TUPE'd over to a new company. Six months into working for the new company I've been told they want to cut my hours by half an hour a day.

 

I've strongly objected to this as 1. It is not physically possible to do my work in that time frame and 2. I can't afford to lose money. I asked the reason for this and was told by the company that it's not there fault, it's the authority (the council).

 

I am confused by this reasoning as from my little knowledge I understand that the present company won the contract by bidding to the authority. So why would the authority be making desicions about cutting hours? I don't work for the local authority, I am employed by this contract company.

 

My friend suggested to me that perhaps the company put in a low bid to win the contract and is now looking for ways to cut costs. Can anyone shed any light on this situation please? Is that fair and legal? I thought my rights were protected under the TUPE process?

 

I have done this job for 18 months, my contract states 15 hours a week. I am a lone worker and I would not be able to do my job properly with the proposed cuts. Any thoughts, help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks

Edited by occupied
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TUPE entitles you to protection from changes to your contract which arise as a result of the transfer itself. This means that you would be able to argue that your contract entitles you to X hours per day/week and that any reduction is unlawful. The fly in the ointment is that the employer CAN make changes to your contract providing that they can demonstrate an economic, technical or organisational reason for the change. Clearly they would claim that this is an example of an economic reason for the change.

 

Your question regarding the contract however is a perfectly valid point - if they were aware at the time of tendering for the contract that staffing commitments were likely to make the contract unviable, then this should not be your problem and in those circumstances you may be able to successfully claim that the change IS due to the transfer itself - you are too expensive - and therefore they are seeking to impose a change in breach of TUPE.

 

Certainly worth raising a grievance, which would be an obvious first step - lay out in writing that you believe that the nature of their contract and the basis on which they tendered must surely have taken staffing for the contract into account, so you consider that changing the terms which you were employed under at the time of the transfer is unlawful and contrary to the protection afforded to you by TUPE.

 

Just be aware that a) if you do not have two years service they may find another reason to 'let you go' and b) if they do not uphold your grievance you may have a difficult decision to make. Ultimately the only way to resolve such a case would be through an Employment Tribunal, which would involve a cost to you and the possibility that they might not uphold your claim.

 

So - whilst right might be on your side, you need to have a clear idea of exactly how far you are prepared to push this...

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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Hi rebel thank you for your welcome, I've been a member for a while and now it's de-lurk time!

 

Hi sidewinder thank you for your advice. I discovered that the acas helpline was open yesterday morning and gave them a ring also. They basically said what you said too. They advised me that if the cuts were from a 'third party' (the Council) then they are legally entitled to do that. But if it's not then I would be protected under TUPE. So my next step is phoning the council tomorrow morning to check if the cut has come from them.

 

There is also more to this story! When my manager met me to tell me this, I raised a few other issues with her, that I wasn't happy about, she took this personally and accused me of having a bad attitude. I got very upset and she left telling me she was reporting me to HR. After the meeting the head teacher approached me to say she wasn't sure if they could cut my hours. I told her I'm being reported for bad attitude, luckily for me she overheard the conversation and said that I was confident and assertive, not displaying a bad attitude. Head teachers not happy about this so hopefully this is a positive for me, as if need be she will write a witness letter to the conversation.

I have a very good relationship with the school as I'm also employed there as a midday supervisor, acas said my good relationship could work in my favour.

 

So as you can tell a few probs rolled into one! My manager was angry that I had complaints about the company and she accused me of personally attacking her, which is untrue. So like I said my next step is to phone the council to check the cuts have come from them, if not then it seems the company maybe acting against my protection under tupe. Also on Monday I will have a chat with head teacher(if she's available to) to discuss this matter further, as acas advised me also that if the head dosent feel my job can be done in that timeframe, then she can approach the Council too.

 

If it turns out that the cuts are 'legal' and I have no choice then I will simply have to look for another job. I also volunteer in the classroom as I'm looking to be a TA anyway. I know the school would be very upset to loose me, which I was told by acas works in my favour too. Guess I just got to wait and see what happens.

 

I'm also in the process of joining a union too. Thanks again sidewinder for taking the time to reply. I will keep you all posted, many thanks

Edited by occupied
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