Warning on Cutting Staff Hours
Many Committees are finding they need to change staff’s Contracts of Employment. Usually this involves reduced hours of work appropriate to their club’s changed circumstances.
The golden rule is that clubs cannot impose changes on existing staff’s Contracts of Employment without individual staff agreements. Any changes made to contracts must be agreed with the individual staff member (or their representative).
Once agreed, the changes must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties within one month of the date it is to take effect. With the demise of the old CORCA Agreement many clubs will find that stewards and other staff still operate under these contractual Terms and Conditions of Employment. Once again these cannot be varied without the express agreement of the individual employees concerned (or their representatives).
While the CORCA Agreement has now finished, its effects, in many cases, are still with us.
In the absence of an up-to-date written Contract of Employment implied Terms and Conditions of Employment will apply. This means that it is what the employee is actually performing in the course of their employment with the club that counts. It is not what is written in any contract but what is actually being performed by the employee during the course of their employment that is the basis of their contract.
Failure to obtain agreement with individual staff members to change Contracts of Employment can result in a successful claim being brought to the Employment Tribunal for Breach of Contract.
It is unsafe to think that if staff do not agree to any changes to their Contracts of Employment, that 90 days’ notice can be given to impose the changes.
The safest, and only legally correct, way to obtain agreement to any changes is to meet, consult and be open and transparent with staff (or their representative) and let them have sight of any documentation – for instance, a set of accounts showing the club’s true financial position, or figures showing the declining number of members using a particular area of the club, which results in a requirement for a corresponding reduction in the number of hours worked by staff.
Documents of this type shown to staff (or their representatives) will greatly assist in obtaining the agreement of staff; this will plainly describe the valid reasons for the club needing to make the changes.
This can sometimes be a lengthy process but it is better to have the staff fully understand the reasons for needing to make the changes.
The fact that there is a mechanism requiring clubs to notify staff of changes to particulars of written statement (Contract of Employment) does not change the basic contractual principle; any changes must be agreed by staff (or their representatives) and cannot be imposed unilaterally.
This is a complex area in which it is good practice to seek professional advice.