Sorry, this is a long. Bit of background:
I work for a big company that is constantly acquiring others, and as a result I’m employed by a different legal entity that all of my current team. Their contract terms are slightly better than mine; 1% extra pension & 5 extra days holiday (but 39 hour week vs 37.5). After years of asking HR have finally agreed to move me over.
In May 2020 the company asked many UK employees to work a 4 day week and take a 20% pay cut for 3 months. After the 3 months they asked for us to do it for another 3 months, but 1 month in they cancelled it and put everyone back full time.
For personal reasons, I accepted the first time and rejected the second time, there was a high chance I needed a new mortgage and needed my absolute max salary for 3 months…
So, having the discussed the differences in benefits with HR it sounded like a no brainer to switch. They sent over the new contract and I have to admit it’s much longer, with many more terms than the one I signed 14 years ago, but it was the final term that has taken me by surprise (full details of it are below). It’s obviously been added very recently so would be a term that none of the rest of my co-workers have.
I’m wondering if this is actually legal? I’m not sure if I’m worrying over nothing here. But the company have obviously very deliberately put these terms here and I think they put me in an unfavourable position to the one I’m current in. The wording seems all rather vague and, so a degree almost makes it seem like my contract would effectively be zero hour. I actually work in IT on projects, the wording is so open that technically it sounds like if a project ends and a new one doesn’t immediately start, they could lay me off for months (no definition of short term) until a new project starts. If they do the 4 day week again and have to ask 99% of the UK employees for their permission, but not me and handful of other new employees, we just automatically get put on it.
Lay-off or Short-time Working
Receipt of your salary is dependent on you being provided by the Company with work of the type you are employed to do. If the Company has a reduced need for your work, or there is any other disruption to the Company’s business, the Company reserves the right in its absolute discretion to impose a lay-off whereby you will not be required to work and will therefore not be paid, or to impose short-time working with a pro-rata reduction in pay. The Company will give you as much notice as is reasonably practicable of any lay-off or short-time working and of any further change to hours, including a return to normal working hours. The Company may in its absolute discretion determine the duration of any period of lay-off or short-time working.
During any period of lay-off or short-time working you must remain contactable and available for work if required. You may in certain circumstances be entitled to receive a guarantee payment in which case the Company will comply with its statutory obligations.