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Threatened With Dismissal For Not Signing Amended Contract

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Hi, My mother in law works at an after school link club and management have told staff that they are changing their employment contracts so that the staff must give 4 working weeks notice if they wish to leave. The problem is that the jobs are term time only and so if an employee decides in July that they wish to leave, they cannot actually leave until October. The workers have also been told that anyone who leaves without working the required period of notice will be taken to court for breach of contract. A few members of the team have said that they don't agree to the changes and have declined to sign the revised contracts. The company has now said that anyone who refuses to sign the new contract will be dismissed. My mother in law has now received a letter giving her her notice unless she signs the new contract. Is this legal and how best should she approach this situation? Any help would be most gratefully received. DJ67

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The problem is that the jobs are term time only and so if an employee decides in July that they wish to leave, they cannot actually leave until October.

 

I'll defer to the employment law experts for a definitive answer, but my first thought was that if they gave 4 weeks notice in July, they leave in August .... the notice isn't "suspended from being served until the term resumes".

 

My mother in law has now received a letter giving her her notice unless she signs the new contract. Is this legal and how best should she approach this situation? Any help would be most gratefully received. DJ67

 

How long has she been 'continuously employed'?

Is she a member of a union?

 

Unison believe that term time workers are still in 'continuous employment' over school holidays

"Holiday entitlement suffers from a lack of legal clarity. Term-timers are in continuous employment, unable to claim out-of-work but able to claim in-work benefits."

https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2013/06/Research-MaterialTerm-time-working3.pdf

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Did they actually put these threats in writing???

If so, a strong worded letter from an employment solicitor on behalf of all employees might have a good impact.

Probably with £5 each (if in good numbers) you can get a very good firm to write to the employer.

It's important that you stick together because if nobody signs they will be less inclined to terminate everyone's contract at once.

Also, if they get a counter threat of mass legal action, they would think twice before doing something silly.

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Did they actually put these threats in writing???

If so, a strong worded letter from an employment solicitor on behalf of all employees might have a good impact.

Probably with £5 each (if in good numbers) you can get a very good firm to write to the employer.

It's important that you stick together because if nobody signs they will be less inclined to terminate everyone's contract at once.

Also, if they get a counter threat of mass legal action, they would think twice before doing something silly.

 

That is an amazing idea!

A group of workers banding together, so they have (collectively) more power than individually!!

 

You know, they might even decide to pay in a smaller amount each week or month, in advance of a problem. If they considered it some kind of insurance, and did so on a larger scale with other employees, it could bring the cost down even more.

What a great idea. Why hasn't anyone thought of it before?but you haven't suggested a name for such a scheme ....

 

It makes sense for workers in one area of work / one trade to align their interests, coming together. That is a fair description of what it is, so it could be called:

a Trade Union!

 

How long has she been 'continuously employed'?

Is she a member of a union?

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basically Zero Hours like all the others no come back???? we wish there were. unions are very weak on this subject, not like our days decades ago

 

 

also failing to sign a further contract could mean that you have put yourself in such a possition as to be out of work by own fault - been there and lost a tribunal on that front.

 

like my O.H. abroad they all went on strike for better pay/conditions and wey ho all out of work - == no benefits there also!


:mad2::-x:jaw::sad:

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Thanks for the great replies folks.

Until recently all the threats had been verbal but they have now been put in a letter.

Many members have staff have been frightened into signing the new contracts but a few are holding out.

Nobody is opposed to giving four weeks notice but it's the "four working weeks notice" that is the issue.

I've not been able to open the Unison link on my phone but will have a look on my laptop when I get home.

Once more, thanks for your responses

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working week = 4 x 5 days

 

4 weeks = 4 x 7 days = at a lost to your argument.. if me I would get out if I did not like it and get another job- as old memories by the management can get you later, been there and wrote the review and read it

time have changed everybody think they have a right to this that and the other, does not work


:mad2::-x:jaw::sad:

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The point being that 28 consecutive days is a lot shorter than 20 working days when there is a period of 6 weeks between working days due to employment being term time.

I agree that finding alternative employment would be a good resolution but should a 61 year old woman who has built up a good relationship with colleagues, parents and children have to start again in a new job? If she signs and then decides to change employment in the future, she may struggle to find an employer who will wait over 2 months before she can start.

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then better to sign - in that case just to finish off before retiring? we/ many of us have been there and nobody wanted to know us because of our age even at 55 decades ago! now we know it is your mother what does she feel in all this as at the end of the day she is the one in the middle,


:mad2::-x:jaw::sad:

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I totally see your point.

She's the one that is unhappy about the change in contract.

She is currently paid 5p above minimum wage and if she signs and therefore handcuffs herself to what could be up to 10 weeks then she couldn't realistically go for any positions outside the company that have better pay/conditions. She doesn't want to change jobs at present but being close to retirement and with living costs outstripping wages if an opportunity for a better standard of living arose then it's something that she would have to consider.

Getting back to the initial point though, are the company legally allowed to enforce the change in contract and sack anyone who refuses to sign it or are they acting contrary to employment law?

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I've moved this thread from the media forums to the main Employment one. When I viewed the thread earlier I was on my phone and couldn't tell which forum it was in.

 

Hopefully BazzaS and others will find you now in the main forum and advise you further. :)

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I totally see your point.

She's the one that is unhappy about the change in contract.

She is currently paid 5p above minimum wage and if she signs and therefore handcuffs herself to what could be up to 10 weeks then she couldn't realistically go for any positions outside the company that have better pay/conditions. She doesn't want to change jobs at present but being close to retirement and with living costs outstripping wages if an opportunity for a better standard of living arose then it's something that she would have to consider.

Getting back to the initial point though, are the company legally allowed to enforce the change in contract and sack anyone who refuses to sign it or are they acting contrary to employment law?

 

How long has she been employed under current employment contract ?

 

A company i have worked for decided to change contract terms regarding hours of working and various. They did not enforce the change on those who did not want it, as there were some who had part time hours contracts, with very good terms and the new contract was inferior. There was an incentive offered on the new contract, making it better for most full time staff and they signed it.

 

I am not sure of the legality in trying to force a contract change on those with more than 2 years service. I think you would have to raise concerns in writing about the contract terms being offered and look to negotiate them. A minimum of a months notice is standard in most contracts and if anyone was successful in applying for another job, the new employer would be aware of it. They would simply wait, as they had no choice.


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Did they actually put these threats in writing???

If so, a strong worded letter from an employment solicitor on behalf of all employees might have a good impact.

Probably with £5 each (if in good numbers) you can get a very good firm to write to the employer.

It's important that you stick together because if nobody signs they will be less inclined to terminate everyone's contract at once.

Also, if they get a counter threat of mass legal action, they would think twice before doing something silly.

 

Unfortunately, this advice only works if the employer is doing something silly. And they are not. They are following the law by the book.

 

An employer is permitted to enforce a change in contractual terms. In order to do so they must terminate the existing contract with notice and, at the same time, offer the employees the new contract. If the employee then turns up to work the day after the notice has run, then they have accepted the new term - a signature isn't required on contracts.

 

It is possible that such an enforced change could give rise to a claim of unfair dismissal, but in my opinion this would not be successful because the change is not unreasonable. And entails no loss to the employees.

 

As had been suggested already, notice runs from the day after it is served - not from the next term time day!

 

The "threat" to sue employees who don't comply with notice requirements already exists in law, so it isn't a threat, more a statement of fact. The employer can only sure for quantifiable loss however. That is only going to be the difference between what it would have cost to keep the worker for that month, and to replace them- if anything at all, likely to be peanuts. And such threats are rarely carried out, although I will emphasis that they can be, and employers who have problems with staff leaving without notice might decide to make an example of people to make their point.

 

Frankly, if you don't want to sign, don't. But if that is the case you should accept that your employment is over. I am afraid it really is one or the other. But hopefully, in the correct context, you will also see that this isn't as bad as you thought it was.

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That is an amazing idea!

A group of workers banding together, so they have (collectively) more power than individually!!

 

You know, they might even decide to pay in a smaller amount each week or month, in advance of a problem. If they considered it some kind of insurance, and did so on a larger scale with other employees, it could bring the cost down even more.

What a great idea. Why hasn't anyone thought of it before?but you haven't suggested a name for such a scheme ....

 

It makes sense for workers in one area of work / one trade to align their interests, coming together. That is a fair description of what it is, so it could be called:

a Trade Union!

 

You're always great at criticising others but not too good at anything else.

This case clearly doesn't involve a union otherwise they would have intervened immediately and most likely the op wouldn't be asking advice here.

It seems that you follow certain people on this forum to attack them at every opportunity.

This makes you look like a clown, or maybe you are one and just doing your job.

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You're always great at criticising others but not too good at anything else.

This case clearly doesn't involve a union otherwise they would have intervened immediately and most likely the op wouldn't be asking advice here.

It seems that you follow certain people on this forum to attack them at every opportunity.

This makes you look like a clown, or maybe you are one and just doing your job.

 

People who are union members still post here ; the two aren't mutually exclusive, so your 'logic' is flawed (and not just on that point ......)

 

Yup, I'm definately "following people on this forum" : in fact, I'm doing it psychically!! One can tell this as I knew to follow people onto this thread before they even posted on it, using my internet psychic powers..... you can see this by the fact I was the first person to reply on this thread!

psychic you see.

 

I'm currently working on upgrading this to replying even before the OP starts the thread, but that is a whole new level of psychic ability, and may take some time.

 

Or, it could just be that I was already on this thread ..... so perhaps you are following me?

Then posting your usual "fire from the hip, posts" : sometimes correct, often way off the mark (like accusing me of "following people to attack them at every opportunity", when in fact I had already replied on the thread before you chimed in), and occasionally downright wrong or risky in the advice you offer.

 

I've a solution for you : put more care and thought into your posts and:

a) you won't have the illogical nature of false accusations highlighted

b) sticking to those posts where your replies are logical, sensible and correct will mean you'll get criticised less.

 

As for "not too good for anything else" : didn't I highlight I thought the date of notice being given couldn't be 'suspended" until the start of the new term?

Didn't I edit my post, amending it to highlight that the employee is in continuous employment even outside of term times?

And provide a citation (research / evidence) showing where Unison stated this to be the case .... ahh well, if that is "not too good", what does it make your posts where they show poor logic and an absence of substance?

 

Returning from your distractions to helping the OP:

 

Meanwhile, how long has the OP (well, the person they are asking for) been continuously employed?

Are they in a union? (I agree, probably not, but they could be).

You'll note I asked these in post #2 on this thread .....

 

Sangie : does laying off all the workers and re-hiring those who sign the new contract constitute creating redundancies?

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Bazza - good question but no it doesn't constitute redundancy. Here's how it works. The law recognises that employers do need the ability to change contractual terms; but equally that there is an imbalance of power that means that employers should not simply be able to do so on a whim. So it lays down a simple process for both parties. The employer tells the employee what they wish to change. The employee had the right to say no. Then the employer, if you do not accept the refusal, gives notice under the current contractual / statutory rules as appropriate but must, at the same time, offer the employee the new terms to run continuously from the end of their current contract. The employee can choose to accept the terms. Or they can refuse to do so, and in such cases the refusal becomes a dismissal, subject to the same criteria of fairness or unfairness as any other.

 

In the latter circumstance, a claim of unfair dismissal would test that the process as I just explained had been applied; and if it had, as in the OP's case, then move on to consider the severity of the change. That speaks to the reasonableness of their refusal - in fact it is sort of redundancy in reverse! If the change is so substantial as to go to the heart of the contract, then in all probability a tribunal would find it unfair dismissal, which, in legal terms, would be better than redundancy because the award would be greater.

 

But here, the only change is that the person must give four weeks notice instead of one. My opinion is that a tribunal would find that entirely fair - the employer offers a service with children, and replacement of staff would not be straightforward. You can't just draft someone in at the drop of a hat. Asking for four weeks notice isn't so much - it costs the employee nothing except working a bit longer, and four weeks notice is far from uncommon these days.

 

As I indicated before, the "threat" isn't a change - the employer can do this right now if someone leaves without giving notice, so highlighting it is really a promise! What they are saying is that will do it. Whether they will or not is another matter, but I probably wouldn't advise testing this - when employers start saying things of this nature, it suggests that their patience has already been pushed too far! I would lay bets that somewhere in here had been one or more people who didn't even work the weeks notice.

 

So, for clarity, no... this is not and never would be redundancy.

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It's all well and good as long as the change is reasonable. I would say that 4 weeks notice is reasonable and is in line with accepted standards.

 

4 TERM TIME weeks notice however is not reasonable, as this could be as upto 10 weeks. The school can still recruit during any holiday time so 4 calendar weeks should be enough.

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See Unison link in post #2.

OP is continuously employed even during the non-term times, so "4 weeks notice only starting when term resumes" isn't the same as "4 weeks notice", and insisting on the former may make any dismissal unfair, whereas (as Sangie's post explains eloquently) the later is unlikely to be unfair.

 

OP should clarify if the employer really is saying that "4 working weeks excludes non-term time", given OP is continuously employed .....

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Thanks ever so much BazzaS, things are a lot clearer now.

Cheers

DJ67

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Always so nice to see that the efforts of everyone who tried to help so warmly received.

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Indeed. I really can't thank you all enough. Every reply made my day. I hope that I'm able to help others someday as you've all helped me.

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It's all well and good as long as the change is reasonable. I would say that 4 weeks notice is reasonable and is in line with accepted standards.

 

4 TERM TIME weeks notice however is not reasonable, as this could be as upto 10 weeks. The school can still recruit during any holiday time so 4 calendar weeks should be enough.

 

This is in fact a very very common contract term for schools and is reasonable because it's about all important contnuity for the kids.

 

If everyone is on a term time contract and the candidates have childcare going on, recruitment won't happen.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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