You and the Law – March 31st 2009

Sink or Swim

WE’VE had letters saying our jobs are at risk, and we’ve been asked to go to a meeting. They want us to put in writing what changes we¹d be prepared to accept, but the company won’t commit itself about what it is
prepared to pay, or what the hours will be under the new regime.

Do they have to put an offer to us in writing? We’ve been told we cannot claim redundancy if what they eventually offer is unsuitable. Is this correct? GB

I THINK it would be a good idea for the employees to ask a lawyer specialising in employment law to attend the meeting. Employers can alter workers’ contracts if it is “reasonable in the circumstances” to do so. If
the choice is between the firm going bust and paying employees less for longer hours, it is possible an employment tribunal would sympathise with the employer.

I take it you all have individual employment contracts which are not subject to a collective agreement. In that case your options will depend on the extent of the proposed changes. You won’t be entitled to a
redundancy payment. If the firm goes under you may be entitled to a comparatively small payment from the government.

Lost Sheep

MY sister and I have been left some money by an aunt. Years ago she had a son who was adopted, and he now says he’s going to contest the will. Has he the right to do this? MC

NO.  As long as he was formally adopted by the other family he will have no claim on his natural mother’s estate, unless for some reason she was supporting him financially at the time of her death.

Adoption severs the blood tie in law.  He would have a potential claim on his adoptive parents’ estate.

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