Understanding the law in relation toreorganisation and the methods and procedures that need to be used, but must beseen to be carried out fairly and lawfully. Varying a contract of employment In a situation where an organisation may wishto relocate some of its staff to another site, due to a site closure/relocation of business then a variation in contract needs to be discussed. Thefirst step is to make contact with all employees affected in the hope to cometo an agreement – if all staff are happy to accept, a new agreement will bedrawn up.
The Trade Union and Labour Relations(Consolidation) Act 1992 provides information that representatives shouldreceive in writing from the employer for consultation to commence. Details ofthis will include the reasons for this. All information provided to employeesmust be adequate and the agreed selection process followed. Consultation during a varying of contract iscrucial for it to be seen as fair and should last for a specified time,depending on the amount of employees involved: · 20or less employees – no time limit· 20-99employees – at least 30 days· 100+employees – at least 45 daysConsultation should be carried out within theabove specified times, explaining the reasons for the changes and discuss anyconcerns employees may have. If an agreement over the changes cannot bemade, the employer has three options available to them. The first is to go aheadand make the changes, however this can leave them open to cases of constructivedismissal if the employee resigns claiming breach of contract. The second is todismiss staff and rehire them on the new terms and conditions, but again thiscan result in employees bringing unfair dismissal claims against the employer,or the third would be to stop all changes. To cover themselves when anticipating change,employers include mobility clauses into contracts of employment.
However, ifthe change is not seen as ‘reasonable’ then the employee may be able to claimunlawful variation of the contract. As illustrated with the United Bank vAkhtar (1989) case, an employee was provided with a 6 day notice period torelocate from Leeds to Birmingham. This move was protested due to the shortnotice and as a result, a claim of constructive dismissal was ruled in hisfavour by the courts as a breach of the contract. Redundancy Redundancy situations occur when an employerneeds to reduce its staff numbers due to economic reasons and no longer havethe funds to continue employment.
Particular requirements must be followed bythe employer to avoid claims of unfair dismissal. The law protects the rightsof all those employees with at least two years’ service, providing them withthe right to receive compensation if a dismissal occurs. The amount will vary depending on variousdifferent factors. Criteria used to decide what individuals areat risk of redundancy must be objective, providing a clear view of a fairselection process, free from any discriminatory factors. All those individualsconsidered for redundancy must then be notified in writing and invited to ameeting to discuss.
The law also permits all employees with atleast two years’ service; time off to look for alternative employment.