You and the Law 26th July 2011

Bonus under threat

The company I work for has just been taken over and the new owners are threatening to withdraw a holiday bonus we have received in a lump sum for the past 20 years.  They are also planning to withdraw the canteen subsidy.  Can they get away with this?  LC

Only if they would be able to justify the cost-cutting measures to an employment tribunal.  If you have been receiving a holiday bonus for 20 years, and the canteen has been subsidised for a similar length of time, the payment and the subsidy may be regarded as contractual, even if they are not specifically mentioned in your employment contracts.  In normal circumstances contracts and working conditions should remain unaltered when a firm is taken over.  If you have a union they will advise further; alternatively you should seek detailed legal advice.

Lost memories

I sent off a film for processing, but after four weeks it still hasn’t come back and I’ve had no satisfactory explanation or offer of compensation.  What am I entitled to?  RF

Most film laboratories will try to limit their obligations in the event of a film being lost or damaged by displaying a disclaimer on the order form.  If this says simply that they are only obliged to give you a free film in the event of something going wrong, you may be entitled to more, depending on what was on the film.  If the photos were of an unrepeatable event (you may have to prove this) you may be able to sue the shop for the upset, disappointment and loss of enjoyment arising from the disappearance of the film, which could amount to several hundred pounds.  If on the other hand you were offered (and declined) insurance at a reasonable rate for a special film you may be entitled to nothing.

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