Can your boss pay you less for working from home? Your rights explained
MILLIONS of Brits are beginning to return to the office but some will continue working from home full time even though lockdown is over.
Here’s everything you need to know about how permanent remote working could impact your pay.Employees could save money by working from home full-time[/caption]
Office workers have been based at home since the beginning of the pandemic, but many have begun a phased return to the workplace.
Many employers are offering staff a mixture of home-based and office-based working now that restrictions have lifted.
However, permanent home working will become the norm for lots of employees going forward.
This could save workers money, as they won’t have to commute or buy lunch.
But a Cabinet minister reportedly suggested that civil servants who won’t return to the office could have their pay cut.
They told the Daily Mail: “People who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuting costs so they have had a de facto pay rise, so that is unfair on those who are going into work.”
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has since said he doesn’t agree with the comments
But he also warned those employees who refuse to return to the workplace at all that they’re likely to harm their careers.
Employers could decide to cut staff pay if they’re working from home. Find out what your rights are below.
Can your employer cut your pay?
While it could seem logical for firms to cut salaries in line with a reduction in commuting costs, in reality it would be complicated.
Whether or not your boss can reduce your pay depends on what it says in your contract.
You should check you contract to find out where you stand.
Simon Mayberry, senior associate at law firm LexLeyton, said: “The key to this is to look at what the contract of employment says.
“Are there elements of pay that are specifically dependent on certain factors – such as a separate London weighting – or is salary simply a global figure which is not broken down further?
“If it is the former, then employers are likely to have a strong argument for reducing pay accordingly.
“If it is the latter, the process will be more complicated and potentially riskier for employers.”
Alan Price, chief executive at BrightHR, added: “It is not advisable that employers pay staff less for working from home permanently, even on a hybrid basis, if their role will remain the same as when they were fully office-based – unless the employee agrees to it or their employment contract stipulates that such a thing can be done.”
It could be classed as an unlawful deduction in wages if the staff member is:
- working the same number of hours
- receiving the same amount of workload, and
- held under the same obligations as when they were in the office
An employer could also end up being hit with a sex discrimination claim if it is shown that more woman work from home than men.
Claims of constructive dismissal can be brought if an employer has reduced an employee’s pay with no justification for doing so and the employee is forced to resign.
What rights do you have?
Your right to fight any changes to your salary will depend on what’s in your contract too.
If your contract allows your employer to lower your pay, it will be harder to fight the change.
But if it doesn’t, then you might be able to avoid a cut to your salary.
BrightHR’s Alan Price said: “If it’s in their contract that their employer can do such a thing then it may be difficult for them to fight it.
“However, if not and they haven’t agreed to a change to their contract terms then they can potentially bring a tribunal claim for unlawful deduction from wages, constructive dismissal etc.
“They can also raise a grievance with their employer.”
Workers who have been with the company for less than two years could find themselves more at risk.
This is because various employment rights are not gained until the two year mark – including the right to claim unfair dismissal in most cases.
Staff who have worked at the firm for less than two years could find themselves being “fired and rehired”.
This is when an employer sacks a worker in order to offer them their job back with reduced pay and benefits.
It is legal to fire someone before re-employing them under worse terms, but the practice has been criticised for being unethical.
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If an employer wants to vary terms and conditions of an employment contact, they have to try and reach agreement to the changes by consulting with the workforce, and any trade unions, first.
If an agreement can’t be reached, employers must terminate employees existing contracts by giving notice, and offer to re-engage on the new terms.
The workers are then effectively dismissed, and face the choice of accepting the new, usually less generous terms, or being unemployed.
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