Following reports that an unnamed government minister has said civil servants who don’t return to the office should have their wages cut and the decision of Google US to potentially cut the pay of remote workers, employers will need to tread carefully to avoid potential discrimination claims if they are considering similar actions.
Changing the terms of contract is a legal process and care would have to be taken to ensure organisations do it for everyone, otherwise they are at risk of discrimination unless there are any provisions in the contract of employment or trade union agreements. Employers can reduce the pay of employees if a mutual agreement is reached. However, generally, employers cannot just cut someone’s salary because of working from home.
In the UK there are very specific rules about equal work and equal pay if two employees are doing like for like work and have similar productivity and responsibilities. So in a case where one works from home and is paid less, then serious questions will be asked and will likely lead to potential legal claims.
For example, it could be said that more women will choose remote working, because it better suits their caring responsibilities. As such, if remote workers are paid less, it is going to have a greater impact on women.
The pandemic changed the way we work and live with many discerning the true cost of living and commuting in corporate hubs. A hybrid model is on the rise. However, just because you wish to work from home doesn’t mean it will be permitted. The current law states employees have a right to request flexible working but a company doesn’t have to grant it. Communication between employer and employee is key.
This provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.
Original article ‘Can employers reduce the salary of staff who opt to work from home?’ Written by Makbool Javaid Published by HR director
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