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Postal worker ruling highlights the risks of employers changing contracts
20 November 2017

Postal workers have recorded a legal victory after opposing a change to thousands of workers’ pay schedules without consent.

The workers took the Post Office an employment tribunal after it was announced in 2016 that it intended to move 1,230 employees onto a new salary schedule.
The Post Office argued that, as both employees continued to attend work and receive pay, they had accepted the change, despite Philip Gower and Julie Donnelly saying they had emphatically rejected the new contractual variations before they came into effect.

The tribunal rejected the Post Office’s argument, ruling that, by not paying the workers each week, the Post Office had subjected them to an unlawful deduction of wages. It additionally found the pair were entitled to be paid every week – and for every Friday they were not paid, the Post Office would be in breach of contract.
Speaking to People Management about the case, employment law director Laurie Anstis said the Post Office were mistaken in trying to impose contractual variations where the current contract did not allow it.

"An employer only has the right to impose a variation such as this where the contract clearly allows it, and by working on under protest the employees retained their right to hold the employer to their original terms and conditions,” Anstis said.
The judge in this case hinted that the Post Office may have been better off ending the existing contract by dismissing the employees and then offering them a fresh contract on the new terms. That requires careful handling, but will sometimes be a better option for employers than trying to impose a variation.”

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