Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, has announced that they will be undergoing a consultation with their workforce with a view of changing the terms and conditions of employment for all of their employees.
The company has explained that they are looking to 'simplify and modernise' the employment terms to allow the company to move forward and be more flexible and price competitive for their customers.
It transpires that, currently, the company has 80 different employee contracts with a huge 7,000 different variations of terms within their workforce. In that case, it is entirely understandable that they would want to go through the process of changing the terms and conditions and harmonise the terms of employment for the workforce as a whole. The company has stated that many of the terms of employment are even outdated and impact the way the company can deliver customer service.
However, it seems that the changes are not very welcome.
Whilst Centrica has promised to protect basic pay and the employees' pension, it is suggested that the new changes include a reduction in the rate of overtime payments – previously the employees would receive double pay for working overtime, but the proposed new terms mean that the rate for working overtime would be the same as the worker's usual contractual hours.
Further, the company was criticised for the timing of the decision due to the current restrictions on gatherings and the lockdown guidelines in place. It is suggested that they purposely do not want the employees and unions to be able to congregate properly to discuss these, but Centrica has sought to reassure that they are doing this to enable them to be more competitive and avoid redundancies and dismissals in the future, if the terms are accepted by the employees. The deadline set by Centrica to agree the terms is before winter – which understandably will be a much busier time for British Gas.
Companies can seek to change their employees' terms and conditions provided that a proper consultation process is followed. An employer cannot make unilateral changes, but changes can be made when necessary with agreement of the workforce and for legitimate reasons.
Our expert team is well versed in advising employees on the way changes to their terms and conditions can impact them and also advising employers on proposed new terms and ensuring that a proper process is followed to enable them to enact those changes to the terms of employment. If you have any questions about any of this, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Our team of expert employment lawyers are on hand to help guide you through any employment or contract issues.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.