As businesses have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic, many companies have considered redundancies to cut costs. But some have realised that there are other ways to make savings without losing staff. Changing employment contracts is one such way, as it enables employers to reduce working hours or salaries, switch employees from full-time to part-time or cut their benefits or bonus packages. Some of these changes might be temporary, others may be more permanent, but all will need to be detailed in the employment contract.
However, even though employment contract changes might be reasonable and understandable if they allow a firm to stay afloat, the way in which the changes are introduced must be well-considered to avoid legal action. Settlement agreement solicitors can assist with any employment disputes you may be having.
In the case of Khatun v. Winn Solicitors Ltd ET/2501492/2020, this legal firm wanted to change their employee’s contracts to provide them with only five days’ notice if they needed to place them on furlough or reduce their pay rate or hours. 300 staff members were told that they must accept these contract changes within 24 hours or face the probability of being dismissed. 299 staff members accepted, but one did not, and she was subsequently dismissed.
An employment tribunal determined that the dismissal was unfair as the claimant was not given the chance to be consulted about the changes, nor was she given the opportunity to appeal the dismissal. Furthermore, the employer had not explored other avenues to settling the situation and was determined to go ahead with the dismissal.
In the event that an employee is forced into having their contract changed without undergoing any due process or is dismissed as a result of not accepting the changes to their working arrangements, settlement agreement solicitors in Essex can help.
Alongside contract changes, settlement agreement advice can help in situations including:
A settlement agreement lawyer can open negotiations between employer and employee and ultimately create a binding contract to ease the process of employment termination. Ideally, the agreement will be advantageous for both the employer and the employee, and it will typically include terms which ensure the departed team member leaves the business quietly. They will usually be forbidden from discussing the nature of the settlement agreement or the reasons for the departure. It would also be routine for the departing employee to be disallowed from working for a competitor of the business for an agreed period of time after employment has ceased.
As part of the agreement, the employer will usually agree to write a positive reference for the departing employee and will often pay a settlement amount.
Whether you are an employer who needs advice on changing employment contracts during the pandemic, or an employee who is unhappy with modifications to the terms of your employment, we can help. Contact our settlement agreement solicitors Essex team today and we will explore practical solutions to resolve your employment dispute. Hook & Partners are available on 01268 692 255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.