Employee Rights

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Skyline D | 18:39 Wed 05th Dec 2012 | Law
7 Answers
Couple of points here:

Company was bought over by new owners about five years ago. Existing employees transferred under TUPE obviously. Employees from before the company was sold are paid for an 8 hour day although they only actually work for 6.25 hours per day. They get two paid 15 min breaks and a 1.25 hour paid lunch. Employees who joined since the ownership change work the same 8 hour day but are only paid for 7.5 hours and work for 7 hours. They get an unpaid half hour lunch and two paid 15 minute breaks.

Company wants to tidy up the fact that there are two different contracts in place and has asked all older employees to agree to the new contracts. This in effect means they are being asked to work an extra 45 mins per day for absolutely no extra money. They are having it presented as a salary "rise" because the actual hourly rate goes up in terms of payment per hour so if they work any overtime they would indeed be paid at a higher rate than they are at the moment (50p more in fact). However, the fact remains it is an effective salary cut since for the same money they are being asked to work 45 minutes longer.

At the moment it is being requested that those on old contracts sign new ones. They are being put under increasing pressure to do so. If it comes to the point is there anything the company can do to actually MAKE them sign it?

As an incentive towards agreeing the new contracts, a new profit sharing pay scheme is being brought in whereby a sum of money per employee will be paid as a bonus as the company is profitable but it will only be paid to those on the "new" contracts". Is it legal to offer such a bonus only to those who have one type of contract given that the earning of it is not based in any way on what kind of contract they have?

Any advice gratefully received thanks?


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My understanding is that TUPE applies to any takeover of employees, but that the new employer is free to change the terms and conditions whenever they like, after that.
As boxtops says, TUPE ensures that new Contracts/T&Cs cannot be imposed at takeover but does not preclude companies re-negotiating afterwards.

Varying a contract requires agreement by both parties; incentives may well be offered to facilitate such an agreement. Where no employee agreement is reached the employer can serve notice to terminate the existing contract and offer the employee re-engagement on the new terms. This last resort measure should follow a fair dismissal process and the employee offered the right of appeal against their dismissal. Any subsequent claim to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal would decide whether or not the dismissal was fair or unfair.

I have no knowledge as to the likelihood of an ET ruling being sympathetic towards a dismissed employee holding out for 1.75 hours extra unearned pay per day.
Good answer, AB, and one I would wholly agree with.

It is perhaps somewhat surprising the employer has left it 5 years before unifying such anomalies that can occur. Being paid for periods of lunch-breaks is a benefit very few have enjoyed.

From an employer's point of view these anomalies can cause resentment from those employees on less-favourable terms.

It is most unlikely that one could quote the TUPE regulations as a means to clinging onto this anomaly.
Can they make them sign the new contract? No. What they can do is say that at a certain date, employees who have not signed the new contract will no longer be employed by the firm, ie set an end date on the old contracts.
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Thanks for responses. Genuinely surprised to find that general opinion is that it is perfectly acceptable for contracts to effectively be cancelled and a new one forced in regardless of how fortunate the conditions of the previous one are. However if that's the case so be it. I'm not really sure what benefit there is in TUPE then if the contract can be cancelled (or end dated) unilaterally as soon as the takeover is complete?
To clarify
The employer can change the terms of employment to anything they like as long as they pay the legal minimum wage of £6.20 an hour. All they have to do is give the legal notice period of the new conditions and you either agree or have been deemed to have resigned
Sorry, hard but true. I have not heard of a paid lunch break for over 20 years now !
To answer your question, they do not need to MAKE you sign a new contract they just have to give notice and you either agree or leave , simple.
The TUPE rule means that if company A is taken over by company B then company A's employees are transferred as well. Previously they could just be dismissed on takeover. However once they are transferred they are subject to the normal rules of employment including change of conditions and redundancy.

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