If I leave one position at one company for well defined and disclosed reasons and take up another offered position in another company, is there anything I can do if the position didn't meet the description given of it? Other than complain and loose my job, which I ended up doing.

Is the employer bound to the job description in any way or can they say whatever they like to get bodies in?

Bit More Detail

I got tired of my company which had became very bogged down with big company procedures and politics. I stated this to another company. The new company provided me with a job description and said they were nothing like my old company in any of the areas I mentioned I was unhappy with. I took the position and not only was this company just as bogged down with big company politics and procedures (in many of the exact same ways that I had directly said I didn't like) but they job also didn't meet the job description given to me. Essentially, it was said I would be a standard Java developer with exposure to iOS and Android. What I got was DevOps work which meant XML configuration writing for 7 months. No Java, no mobile, just configuration work.

  • 1
    What does your contract say? Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 22:13
  • Ah, sorry. U.K. My contract says Java developer but not a lot of specific duties.
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 8:56
  • Does your contract have a vague get-out clause like "and other duties as may be reasonably required"? (All of my past ones have) While it wouldn't stand up if they signed you up as a developer and then told you to do 8 hours of cleaning each day, it would allow general tasks which a competent developer would be able to do. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 9:08
  • 2
    I don't think it's necessary because I think you know it, but I will mention it anyway: Never take legal advice from strangers on the Internet. Instead, go to a lawyer that specializes in workplace issues. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 9:52
  • 1
    Don't waste your time fretting about what is legal/illegal in job descriptions (it will lead to nowhere). XML config files are the Java equivalent of boiling water and chopping vegetables for a sous-chef job. How do you know that you would not have eventually gotten to the application work? Moreover, good luck trying to convince a non-technical person that dev-ops work is materially different from application programming. Perhaps consider working for small companies, where you trade off stability for interesting-ness.
    – teego1967
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 9:55

4 Answers 4


I think you're a bit stuck with this sort of thing, companies will (if they have any sense) have a disclaimer that they can change your job description if they need to.

If you look at section 1.3 (in the link) employers are advised to put that they

reserve the right to amend the job description

However in 1.4 it says.

Altering fundamental terms and conditions without the employee’s consent can be a breach of contract.

You could in this situation consult a lawyer about if the role you actually did was so different to your job description it amounted to a breach of contract. However from your description I think this would probably fall under 'reasonable other tasks' anyway.

I suppose you might also ask if they have to inform you of the change of job description in writing or (as seems to be the case in a lot of contractual stuff) there is implied consent from you continuing to do the job without complaint.

I don't know I've ever worked in a development position that has matched the description for more than about three weeks. Company culture is very hard to judge from the outside and you normally only find out what a place is really like once you've started work.


  • It's just disappointing that they can promise one type of work and working environment then avoid those promises altogether. I quit my job to take this because of those promises and I was almost left jobless because of them. It's just a good job there's a high demand for developers at the moment in the U.K.
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 10:36
  • 2
    Yeah, unfortunately most of the time the only solution is to vote with your feet. They know many people won't raise a grievance internally let alone take legal action even if they are in the right.
    – Dustybin80
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 12:04

The employer is not bound to the duties outlined in the job description. This conclusion is drawn on the basis of crawling though the https://www.gov.uk/browse/working website, where there are no sections addressing the area.

As mentioned in the comments by @JuliaHayward, your contract, staff handbook or implicit working conditions allow your employer to be flexible with how you are deployed.

How flexible is 'flexible' in this context? That is a subjective matter. At the time I'm sure that you raised the issue with your employer informally. Because the gov.uk site does not cover the area, then there is no way to have escalated the issue to the grievance process or beyond. Ultimately, as long as you could do the job required by your employer, and it did not violate health and safety laws or require you to work non-contractual (unreasonable) overtime, then there was no way to escalate.

  • That's a shame.
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 10:34

Not positive if this is a federal standard or a standard in my state... but the way it's set up here is that in that circumstance, you can lodge a complaint with the Department of Economic Security that you did not quit, but that in fact, it was a "constructive discharge".

DES would interview you, and then them, and unless they somehow had concrete evidence that your job exactly matched the job you were offered, you'll qualify for unemployment.

If you 'lost' the job as in you were fired from that job, you get unemployment anyway.

As far as I know, that's about as far as protections go when it comes to job description discrepancies.

  • Thanks for your answer, it's good to know at least the equivalent in the states to aid my research but I forgot to mention I am in the U.K. Please don't remove your answer however, it's informative and it will be useful for others.
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 8:58
  • Ya, not sure at all about the UK. Just sharing my experience. I was a Lab Assistant, my job description was basically inventory management and taking samples of materials for micro and chem testing. Then they started ordering a material in increments of 50 pallets, and the sample taking involved moving 50,000lbs worth of material (to get samples from bags at the top, middle, and bottom of the pallet), and had to be done in a 2 day window from receipt of the material. I ended up quitting and reported to DES that heavy manual labor was nowhere in the job description. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 15:36

All employment contracts carry the phrase "and other duties as assigned", and they haven't asked you to do anything illegal, immoral, degrading, or otherwise forbidden, so "rights" don't enter the discussion ... except the right to discuss this with them (if they're willing to listen) and the right to quit if you aren't satisfied with their answers.

Do make sure things won't improve before taking irrevocable steps.

And do make sure you have the next job lined up before quitting. Even if you feel underemployed, that pays better than being unemployed.

  • Normally I'd agree with that last point but I see no point in continuing in a job I hate just so the money keeps coming in. Less stress is always better than more money.
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 8:34
  • Your call. If you know it's temporary it may be easier to cope with, but if your finances make a possibly extended sabbatical possible and you're prepared to explain this in interviews ...
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 12:35

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