Employment Law Unfair Dismissal Employer Succeeded In Changing Terms Of Employment

Employment Law Unfair Dismissal Employer Succeeded In Changing Terms Of

Good News for Employers wishing to​ change the​ terms of​ employment of​ employees,​ however,​ employers must still take care.

In Scott & Co v Richardson [2005],​ the​ Dependant,​ Mr Richardson,​ who worked for a​ Scottish firm of​ debt collectors,​ refused to​ accept his new terms of​ employment which required him to​ visit defaulting debtors during the​ evenings. Mr Richardson agreed to​ work evenings but only if​ this would continue to​ attract overtime payments as​ had previously been the​ case. Scott & Co tried for seven months to​ persuade Mr Richardson to​ change his mind but he refused,​ finally issuing an​ ultimatum that his employer should either accept his position or​ dismiss him. They chose to​ dismiss him.

At first instance,​ Scott & Co claimed that the​ change in​ working conditions was required to​ bring the​ company into line with new market practices and to​ allow them to​ plan work more cheaply and effectively. Mr Richardson argued that Scott & Co had failed to​ prove that there were advantages to​ the​ new working arrangements and that the​ real reason for the​ changes was to​ save money in​ overtime payments.

Mr Richardson succeeded in​ his claim for unfair dismissal and the​ Employment Tribunal held that it​ did not appear that the​ imposition of​ the​ shift system was of​ such discernible advantage that the​ only reasonable thing to​ do was to​ terminate the​ employee's contract unless he would agree to​ the​ new arrangement.

On appeal the​ EAT overturned this decision and held that:-

A Tribunal should not 'second guess' an​ employer's business decision;
A Tribunal should evaluate whether dismissal was due to​ the​ employer's reasonable belief that the​ contract changes had advantages; and
The employer did not need to​ prove that those advantages objectively exist.
This is​ good news for employers who can rely on​ the​ principle that the​ tribunal must respect their commercial decisions in​ assessing whether a​ fair reason for dismissal has been shown. However this must be tempered by another EAT decision in​ Forshaw and others v Archcraft Limited [2005],​ where the​ EAT relied on​ its own assessment that the​ clause in​ question was unreasonable and found that the​ dismissal was unfair. in​ Forshaw the​ EAT said that while the​ tribunal generally will not re-open the​ commercial decisions of​ an​ employer's management,​ however,​ a​ reason which is​ genuinely held but is​ trivial or​ unworthy or​ whimsical will mean that the​ dismissal is​ unfair.

Comment: Provided that care is​ taken,​ changes to​ employment terms which are supported by sound commercial reasons will be acceptable under the​ law.
If you require further information contact us.

Email: enquiries@rtcoopers.com

© RT COOPERS,​ 2005. This Briefing Note does not provide a​ comprehensive or​ complete statement of​ the​ law relating to​ the​ issues discussed nor does it​ constitute legal advice. it​ is​ intended only to​ highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in​ relation to​ particular circumstances.

Employment Law Unfair Dismissal Employer Succeeded In Changing Terms Of

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