I have been with my current UK based employer for 6 years and have recently been asked to provide 24/7 on call coverage with no increase in benefits as, and I quote, its expected of a senior member of the department. This would be limited to myself and one other developer in the department.

Now my current contract contains no caveat for this and I am unwilling to accept these new conditions. From my investigation I believe that forcing this would construe Constructive Dismissal (second bullet point) in the UK which would result in me resigning and taking the company to an employment tribunal.

What would be the best method in handling this problem and does it in fact amount to Constructive Dismissal?

  • Any advice is appreciated. I am just trying to understand my options before making a decision. – Phil Murray May 30 '13 at 13:07
  • I think Joe's comment was a reference to the prohibition of legal questions. Please see the FAQ. That said, this seems general enough (and seems to have been answered readily) that I'm not going to vote to close. – GreenMatt May 30 '13 at 13:13
  • @PhilMurray I advise you to figure out what you want in this situation. Do you not want to have this new responsibility, or do you want to be paid more for doing it? Or... are you just looking to launch a lawsuit? – MrFox May 30 '13 at 18:53
  • I simply do not want to do the on call. Its a matter of work\life balance and no amount of money will change that. To be clear I have no interest in any legal action or bringing in an employment tribunal if at all possible. – Phil Murray May 30 '13 at 20:10
  • Just saying that this change is entirely unreasonable. At the very least there should be significant overtime payment if you are actually called out, plus a probably small hourly payment for every hour you are available - and all of that if you accept this role. I assume 24/7 availability means you can't take your wife to the movies in the evening, with your phone switched off? – gnasher729 Sep 17 '14 at 11:24

Solving disputes

Employers and their staff should try to solve disputes about contract changes things by talking informally or through mediation.

Employees can also get advice from their trade union representative (if they’re a member of a union), Citizen’s Advice or Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). In Northern Ireland, they can get advice from the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) .

Acas helpline 08457 47 47 47

LRA helpline 028 9032 1442

If the problem can’t be solved, employers or employees may have the right to take legal action. It’s important to get advice first because legal action can be expensive. Trade union members may be able to get legal advice from their union.

Making a change without agreement

If an employer makes a change to a contract without getting agreement (including by using flexibility clauses unreasonably), employees may:

  • Have the right to refuse to work under the new conditions
  • Say that they’re working any new terms under protest, and are treating the change as a breach of contract
  • Resign and claim constructive dismissal
  • Be able to take a case to an employment tribunal

In Northern Ireland an employment tribunal is known as an ‘industrial tribunal’.

Please also be aware that if an employee disagrees with new terms and conditions but doesn’t say or do anything, this may count as agreeing to the changes.

  • Thanks for the response Michael. In my case they are initially trying to pressurise me into doing this without a change in my contract but I have flatly refused. They can and may well do try to change my contract which I will again reject. I will give ACAS a ring. – Phil Murray May 30 '13 at 10:27
  • 1
    Glad it helps. Been in a similar situation before such as yours and they were brilliant to talk to. Hope it works out mate. – Michael Grubey May 30 '13 at 10:54
  • 1
    I know this is not the place for legal advice and I would suggest in seeking this before leaving but if you are going to be working for more then 48 hours per week which would also include on call it would violate Art 5 where it requires a person to have 24 hours uninterupted rest. That's only at a brief glance...seek legal advice asap! – Michael Grubey May 30 '13 at 13:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.