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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we deal with "dissenters"?
    If, despite your best efforts at consultation, an employee refuses to agree to contractual changes, there is little else you can do other than to either drop your proposed changes or terminate their contract on due notice. With the latter option, you should also offer to re-employ them on the proposed new terms and conditions. Do this by writing to them, setting out the business reasons that have caused the change(s) and give them notice that you're terminating their existing contract. The letter should also...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we revoke a flexible working arrangement?
    Although the rights to request and reject a flexible working arrangement are set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996, it makes no provision regarding the revocation of an arrangement. So if you want to do this it will be a contractual matter. You'll need sound business reasons why: (1) you need to revoke the terms; (2) it affects this particular employee; and (3) there's no other solution, such as reallocating duties. Once you have this information, meet with the employee to explain the situation and seek...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we know if our consultation process is sufficient?
    Consultation is a two-way process, so be prepared to invest at least several weeks in it. However, its precise duration will depend on numerous factors including: (1) the type of contractual changes you wish to make; (2) their complexity; (3) employee reaction to them; and (4) whether or not you recognise trade unions or a formal consultative body under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations (ICE). To be sufficient, the consultation needs to be a genuine attempt on your part to have a meaningful...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - If the employment contract allows us to make a particular change, do we still have to consult with the employee before we implement it?
    Yes. Even where you have a valid flexibility clause in the employment contract allowing you to unilaterally change a particular term, you must act reasonably in doing so and in a way that does not breach the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. This will include consulting with the employee. Tip. Consult with the employee about the nature and scope of any change, the reason it's required and the proposed timing of the change. Take the employee's views into account and attempt to resolve any issues...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we go about changing our salary structure?
    This should be done through a consultation process. But whilst it should be easy to convince staff to agree to an increase, you'll struggle if they think that the overall effect will be a reduction in pay. So be realistic about what your workforce is likely to accept and produce some worked examples to show how any arrangement will work in practice.  If this doesn't convince them you could offer an incentive, e.g. additional annual leave. Tip. If any employees refuse, you may be able to give them notice to...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - What happens if an employee works "under protest"?
    This may happen when an employee refuses to accept enforced contractual changes. The employee must make it clear that they're working under protest and that they don't accept what's being imposed on them. The result is that they remain in employment but can still sue you because, effectively, you're in breach of contract - or they're still reserving the right to resign and claim constructive dismissal. The employee can't work under protest forever: how long they can do so varies depending on the circumstances...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we deal with objections to contractual changes?
    Employees are most likely to object to such changes if they will lose out in some way or can't see a need for them. Therefore, it's vital that you can show why the changes are needed and how they will benefit your business. As part of this process, you should provide staff with a genuine opportunity to consult with you on the proposed changes and to put their own ideas forward. Depending on your proposal, you may want to consider offering an incentive, such as a pay increase or one-off bonus. Tip. It's advisable...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we go about introducing a shift system?
    As a shift system could prove to be unpopular, particularly with workers used to working business hours, consultation will be important. Spend time consulting with staff (or their representatives) on what type of shift system you want to introduce and your reasons for it. Have facts and figures to back up your argument. When doing this bear in mind that claims of sex discrimination might arise.  This is because fewer women are likely to be able to work nights, or on a rolling shift pattern, due to child care...
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