how to alter an employee’s hours of work if you need to

April 12th 2020

No great business is static.

Great businesses have to continuously evolve in response to the changing external market, competitor landscape, internal pressures, and of course, the effect of global pandemics.  For many businesses, the fallout from COVID-19 will be significant and it could be 12-18 months before workflow returns to “normal”.  That is likely to mean that what worked before doesn’t work anymore, and you’re forced to revisit employees’ working conditions, and make changes.

So if this is the boat you’re in, how do you do it?

changing employment conditionsStep 1: check your employment agreement – is there flexibility built into it, saying that aspects of working conditions such as hours, location and duties, can be changed in the future, following consultation with the employee?  If not, you have a tougher course to paddle.

Step 2: be very very clear whether your IEA stipulates changes can be made following consultation, or following agreement.  There is a difference.  Agreement, literally means the employee has to agree to the proposed change, and if they put the kibosh on it, then you quite simply can’t go ahead.  Consultation, however, means you seek the employee’s feedback and give it due consideration, but you can proceed even without the green light from the employee.

Step 3: start an open-minded process.  Don’t rush it.

An historic ERA decision demonstrates the need to do it right.  It cost Blue Star Taxis $15,000.  It’s not good enough to just inform your employee of the changes, as they found out.  You can read the whole determination here.


Category: legislation

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