What are the consequences for my partner if she does not sign a new contract with different hours from her current job? | LawHive - Solicitors & Lawyers Online
What are the consequences for my partner if she does not sign a new contract with different hours from her current job?
My partner works for a large retailer in the UK (England), enjoys her job and was given the hours on a nightshift she wanted about 6 months ago, (4× 8 hour shifts, 10pm - 6am). Sometimes goes in early and leaves late to help out. Anyway, they want her to change her hours and sign a new contract which she doesnt want to do. They say she must hand her notice in then, I've said that it's up to them to terminate your employment so you can claim benefit while looking for something else? She's heartbroken, she's a grafter and her colleagues can't believe the new management they have are prepared to lose her. Thanks for reading, any advice would be much appreciated.

Lyle Kibler

27th September 2021

+661

664 upvotes

Top Answer
You are right. It’s not for them to tell her to resign because a resignation is the decision of an employee to leave employment. If they want to make the decision for her to leave, they need to dismiss her. If she’s been with them as an employee tor more than 2 years continuously she has protection from being unfairly dismissed. They must follow a fair process and have a fair reason (there’s a list of potentially fair reasons for dismissal which is outlined in law). If she hasn’t got the 2 years service or isn’t an employee, she needs to decide whether it’s better to resign and be unable to claim benefits for a while (I’m not a benefits expert so unsure how long they sanction you for) or whether to stay and see if they dismiss her, possible get better benefits, but also might cause difficulty getting a new job if new employers know she’s been dismissed. Sorry she’s been put in this situation.

Brian Davis

28th January 2022

+548

551 upvotes

Definitely don't hand in the notice, as she won't be entitled to full unemployment benefits if she is deemed to have left paid work of her own accord. Probably best to contact the JobCentre and get her to explain her situation to them while still employed.

Cesar Mcneill

28th January 2022

+78

81 upvotes

You're 100% correct that they can't force her to resign. As for whether she should or not, there's pros and cons to both resignation and dismissal - if she resigns, then as you've said that will affect her ability to get benefits, but if she were to be dismissed then that could definitely come back to bite her in finding a new job. If she has experience and is comfortable explaining the situation in an interview, then that might not be too much of an issue, especially if there is a manager/supervisor who'd be happy to provide her a reference, but ultimately it's her call as she knows her situation better than any of us can. In any case, her current job is about to become untenable so she should start looking for a new position immediately. If she can secure a new job, then that will effectively solve the issue before it becomes a problem.

Louise Thompson

28th January 2022

+10

13 upvotes

I don’t believe she has to agree to a change of contract. She’s still employed under the terms of her original one. Is she in a union? Might be an idea to talk to a rep who will have more idea.

Armando Burns

28th January 2022

+67

70 upvotes

I would highly recommend speaking to citizens advice. When work changed my hours we had to go through a consultation process and they had to see what reasonable adjustments they could make to meet me part way. Ultimately if I didn't agree I would have lost my job, but it wouldn't have been me quitting and it's a really easy thing to explain to future employers. It's important to get clarity on why the hours are changing, if it's because the night shift won't exist anymore you might be looking at redundancy so it's important to get everything from them in writing as well. They should have full documentation for the reason for the change etc. Good luck

Brian Flinchum

28th January 2022

+7

10 upvotes

She has everything going for her including the support of her colleagues. She needs to fight this ridiculous ruling from management....could be a groundbreaking case to help others.

Ruben Sause

28th January 2022

+4

7 upvotes

I believe they would have to do an constructive dismissal. It's a special type for people who won't sign a new contract.

Santos Rodriguez

28th January 2022

+1

4 upvotes

Definitely get your partner to speak to her union rep and ACAS. Is the company formally implementing a fire and rehire for everyone's employment contract or is this just affecting your partner? Given she has been employed for more than two years, she should absolutely not resign herself even if pressured to. She could have a case for unfair dismissal if they choose to dismiss her.

Alphonse Hurley

28th January 2022

+2

5 upvotes

This is a dismiss and re-engage situation to vary contractual terms. As pointed out prior the employer should not change contractual terms without agreement. This is called a unilateral change and wold lead to a likely successful constructive dismissal claim as changing the terms would be a breach of an express term and a breach of the implied trust and confidence. Instead the employer will collectively and individually consult about the changes to get acceptance from employees. If it's collective consultation it is likely the union will already be involved if they are recognised. If the employer has a sound business reason for the change and the majority of other employees accept the change but OP doesnt then it could be the dismissal (with re-engagment refused) could be fair for some other substantial reason. Whether it is fair will be a question of whether dismissal is within the range of reasonable responses considering all the factors including the reason for the change and the extent of consultation. Going back to the question it is not correct that OP has to resign and would not advise they do so. Up to the employer to terminate then either have to accept the changes or refuse and take chance with litigation. If OP is only person affected it may be more difficult for employer to show there is a good business reason as bringing contracts in line is unlikely to be a good one. If you are not going to accept the changes you need legal advice on how to present why you can't (make it more difficult for employer to show dismissal is reasonable) and/or negotiate a settlement agreement if you feel you can no longer work there. To confirm I am legally qualified. Edit: Have just seen a further post whilst typing the above. States there is a flexibility clause. If there is such a clause this should be reviewed as if it is enforceable the position of OP is considerably weaker as the employer is not changing contractual terms but merely relying on an existing term to change working hours. Revised advice - get the union or anyone legally qualified to review the contract. But advice stating do not resign still stands subject to further advice.

Helen Delaney

28th January 2022

+24

27 upvotes

telling someone to resign is like firing them without paying them a month in lieu