In today's era of Covid-19, employees all over the world are experiencing changes to their working conditions. It could be something relatively painless like a change in work schedule, to more significant changes like reduced pay or being transferred to another company location.
If you have been dedicating your service for the company for a long time, you may feel disrespected by the company for these unilateral changes. Some may even feel the urge to quit.
Perhaps you've vocalized your dissatisfaction and had arguments with your employer. What should you do in such a situation?
Whatever you do, you should be mindful of the following:
Employment Contract Governs
An employment contract drafted some time this year and onward may specifically address Covid-19 implications.
If you have only begun your work since the pandemic, you should read that clause carefully to see which kinds of changes (and the extent of those changes) are allowed. Even if your employment contract does not specifically deal with a pandemic scenario, it may have specified (usually in favor of the employer) certain changes that may occur.
For example, the contract may state that a 50% decrease in revenue triggers the employer's right to transfer you to a different location.
If this is a clearly worded term and you approved it when you began working for your employer, then this may be an enforceable term even if it seems draconian.
Staying with the company without further objection
You may be considering your alternatives in this pandemic-ridden world, and feel perhaps a bad job is better than no job.
That is a decision you must personally make. But from a legal standpoint, know that your decision to stay with the company may amount to your acceptance of the changes. That is why if you believe the employer has caused a substantial change to your job (which is not specifically allowed by your contract), you should speak to an employment lawyer right away.
In certain scenarios, an employee who protests against the changes may still be obligated to work for the company, in order to mitigate loss of wages.
Resigning from the company, citing changed work conditions
Resigning from the company may appeal to you, especially if you've been having tense arguments with your employer about the changes.
Perhaps you are confident that you have been constructively dismissed and that your termination pay would not be affected. However, the reality is that constructive dismissal is an inherently risky claim.
The question of what constitutes a substantial change can be quite contextual and uncertain, and if your claim is not successful, you are left not with a smaller termination pay, but no termination pay at all.
Your employment lawyer may be able to advise and assist you in triggering the employer to terminate you; if that is difficult, at the very least the lawyer can shed some light on the strength of your constructive dismissal claim, before you finalize your resignation.
In this post you have learned of several considerations when faced with work changes due to Covid-19:
- Being aware of the clause in your employment contract that enforces changes to your job due to the pandemic
- Deciding to stay with the company without further objection may amount to your acceptance of the changes
- Consulting with an employment lawyer before resigning from the company as it can affect your claim for constructive dismissal and termination pay
The preceding content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. To obtain such advice, please contact our offices directly.
About the author
Simon practices in the areas of employment law and litigation, including small claims litigation. He has represented clients in commercial litigation matters such as commercial lease disputes, and breach of contract cases. In addition to court proceedings, Simon has experience assisting clients in arbitration proceedings and negotiating settlement agreements. Learn more about Simon.
Last updated on June 29th, 2022 at 12:35 pm