Good news for employers who wish to change the employment conditions of workers, however, employers must still be careful. At Scott & Co v Richardson 2005, the office, Mr. Richardson, who worked for a Scottish firm of debt collectors, refused to accept their new working conditions that forced him to visit defaulting debtors during night. Mr. Richardson agreed to work at night, but only if these continue to attract overtime payments as had 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 or must accept his position or dismiss him. They chose to fire him. In the first instance, Scott & Co. said the change in working conditions are necessary to put the company in line with market practices and to allow the work plan more effectively and cheaply. Mr. Richardson argued that Scott & Co had failed to prove the existence of benefits new working arrangements and that the real reason for the changes was to save money on overtime. Mr Richardson succeeded in his claim for unfair dismissal and the Labour Court considered that it appeared that the imposition of the system change was the perceived advantage so that the only sensible thing to do was to terminate the employee unless he would agree with the new agreement. On appeal the EAT overturned this decision and held that: – A court should not “second guess” an employer’s business decision, the court must assess whether the dismissal was due to reasonable belief that the employer changes contract had advantages, and the employer need not demonstrate that the advantages objectively exist.
This is good news for employers who may be based on the principle that the Court must respect their commercial decisions in assessing whether a good reason for the dismissal has been demonstrated. However, this must be tempered by another decision in Forshaw and Eat other 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 court is generally not re-open the commercial decisions of the management of an employer, however, a reason that is valid but is trivial or unworthy or whimsical means that the dismissal is unfair . Comment: As long as care is taken, changes in employment terms that are supported by sound commercial reasons will be acceptable under the law. If you require more information please contact us. E-mail: and RT Coopers, 2005. This newsletter is not an exhaustive or complete statement of the law on the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. Its sole purpose is to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances. Attorneys Employment labor law, labor law, employment law firm, redundancies, unfair dismissals, breach of contract, labor disputes, Tupe transfers, drafting employment contracts, grievance procedures, disciplinary procedures, maternity rights, discrimination, labor disputes, suspensions, wrongful dismissal, equal pay, media copyright.