Change of contract at work, can they do this legally?


I wondered if anyone out there has any advice or comes from a legal background? I feel like I have been backed into a corner and I want to scream, I actually cannot believe that “they” (my employers can do what they have proposed.)

It is complicated so I will have to give you a little background I am a teacher who is employed Centrally, So I am not school based.
I get teacher’s pay and conditions, which means I get the holidays. I was DX with BC in Dec 07, and I went off sick, had WLE SNB, lymph involvement so offered chemo, then had rads. I went back to work during the last week of my RADS in July, and I did 2 weeks before the 6 weeks hols. I was exceedingly fatigued and realised I had gone back too soon. I had a phased return. Whilst I was off a new manager was appointed, she has been on a mission since I returned to get me off teacher’s pay and conditions, in fact she told HR not to renew my contract last year (09), but they did. I am on a fixed term contract which is renewed annually, I have been on this for 7 years and even though it is illegal and my union has made several requests they will not make the post permanent the contract is up for renewal on 31 March. My union has been involved all year.

I had to go to a meeting yesterday with HR, my union, my manager, her manager!!

Basically they have said they are moving me onto Soulbury as of 1st April. So this means losing my teachers pay and conditions, more hours a week to work, less holidays, possibly less pay, and losing my teacher’s pension, (I’m 52 so am thinking about that!!!)

They have said I can accept the new contract, be redeployed or be unemployed on 1 April, I asked if they were making me redundant but they have said No as they are offering me a job. My union is taking it to the legal dept, he argued several points, they wont re-consider this decision. Keep me on teacher’s until I retire, (even the new contract is not permanent it is still 1 year.)

I think being on this fixed term contract has not helped as they have finished it, and offered me a new contract and job description (which is the job I am doing.) I believe this is all down to this new manager.

I have started to look for a new job. I feel very upset and down I have worked for this authority for 31 years, there was not even any “we value you and want to keep you!” LOL

Unfortunately I am single so have no other means of support.

I just cannot believe they can do this, I thought it was a breach of contract and they had to negotiate these things, and could not cahnge your contract without your agreement, but seemingly not.

I am already on my knees every day and every week, as I still seem to be fatigued. I feel let down and after all I have been through it is one more thing… Since I went back in July 08 I have only had 3 days off sick, and the usual hospital appts.

I know I have had a rant, but I feel sooo upset. Thanks for listening and reading the post, if any one has any advice or has had this happen to them I would appreciate the advice/support.

Surely employers should be more supportive of people who have had cancer and have returned to work?

I honestly feel I am being bullied. I will wait to see what the legal department say as well.



I can’t comment on your terms of employment or contract but this type of thing makes me so angry.

You are now covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.

If you go to the Direct.Gov.UK website, there are pages giving you all the information about the act.

Your HR and union reps should be well informed about the DDA and know what it covers.

Hope this helps

Love and take care


Have you thought about finding an employment solicitor who offers the first hour hour of consultation free to establish if it is legally acceptable to be on that type of contract for 7 years. It maybe that bacause you have been on this contract for so long that you are legally entitled to be treated as a permanant employee. There are some rules around this but I don’t know the details.

The solicitor may also be able to advise you about the Disability Discrimination Act as mentioned above too.

I hope you get this sorted…you have been through enough already.

Best wishes, Macc


Sorry I can’t help re your contract of employment, however like Thistle has said you are now covered by DDA and if you can prove, that your contract has been changed due to BC, then they have a case to answer to. The way to prove it, would be to try and find out, if anyone else in exactly the same position as you but without BC, has had there contract altered.

Hope this helps


Hi Sassquatty,

I’m an HR professional and I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through with your employer.

There are a number of issues of law involved here:

* law around fixed term employment
* law around notice periods
* law around unilateral change - when you are forced to change your contracts
* discrimination law
I can’t give you legal advice, but I have taken some notes and will give you feedback from an HR Best Practice perspective.

Can you answer a few questions for me though?

  1. What reason were you given for the offer of alternative employment?
  2. Are you fit to return to work at the moment - even if on a phased basis
  3. Is there anything specific in your contract of employment which covers non-renewal of the contract?
  4. Whilst your contract has been annually renewed for 7 years, have there been any subtle differences with any of the renewals? e.g different hours?

You should also seek copies of the following from your employer:

* Copy of their equal opportunities policy
* Copy of policies which relate to long-term absence management and support
* Copy of their discrimination and harassment policy
* Copy of their recruitment policy and specifically, policy on the use of fixed term contracts

In the meantime, whilst it’s not widely known, a lot of household & car insurance policies cover legal costs for breach of contract - you should check your policies to see if you have anything like this as it may help in the future.

M xxx

surely this comes under the 4 year rule? are you in the NUT

Who are you actually employed by? I was on a short term contract which was renewed several times. When my school needed to make reduncancies I discovered that my job was as safe as anybody’s because I’d been employed for over 2 years even though on temporary contracts. Are you in a teachers’ union?
Do keep fighting and don’t go for another job it sounds like your illness is being used against you.

How many years have you in your teachers’ pension. If you have a lot of years it may be worth you going for ill health retirement. It would be enhanced so you would get an extra 4 years as you are 52. You need good advice. Don’t do anything hastily.
Good luck.

Yes, don’t be hasty. I am a teacher too and trust in my union! What actually is your job, do you mind me asking? Does anyone else do the same job as you, and how are they being treated? Get as much info as you can and consult with your union. Surely they have legal bods doing the work?

Take it easy and good luck.

Sheila xx

Hi Thanks for all your comments and replies. I have had an awful week last week and this week does not seem to be getting any better.
I will answer some of the questions you have asked me.Sheila and Kelley.

Yes I am in a union the NASUWT. I have about 29 years pension although I have 31 years service.

I have been back at work full time since July 2008, and only had 3 days sick since being back. My job is an adviser and I go into schools, no one actually does my job although there are people in my team who do similar jobs. No one else is being treated like this at the moment, but 2 are not on teacher’s pay & conditions, the other one who is is on secondment and has a permanent contract, and they are not treating her like they are me. I am employed by a large City Council.


I have been given no reason for the change in my terms and conditions apart from:
I will have an opportunity to earn performance related pay, which I do not want.
It is not fair on others, that it does not make for a happy team, (too right there),
if I am given a permanent contract they are discriminating against me and its not fair on others,

I have not been offered alternative employment only re deployment if I wish to stay on teachers pay and conditions rather than go on soulbury pay scale, although they have made it clear that if I do not secure employment in 8 weeks I will be unemployed.

I am at work and apart from stress am fit for work

I have not seen anything in my contract which covers non renewal apart from the fact that my post relies upon external funding which is sought annually and that is why they cannot give me a permanent contract

Whilst my contract has been renewed there has been no change in hours or holidays although there has been a change in pay I had 2 management points which were safeguarded but that ceased in January 2009, and were not converted to a TLR, they said my post doesn’t fit the teacher’s pay and conditions document 2009, wont explain why not though. And i cannot find a reason either.

I had a glimmer of hope last week as the union sent a letter saying renewing the contract for 7 years meant it was permanent as stated in Fixed term regulations document 2002.

They also said that there was no legal basis for treating my contract as expiring on 31 March, nor any provision for varying my terms on which I am employed without my agreement it is unlawful.

However i was then told that what they were doing was legal, they could not offer a permanent contract due to funding and the unfairness to others. If I do not accept the new contact my employment WILL cease on 31 March and I will not be paid, equally If I have not secured another job my opportunity to be redeployed will cease also. They say they are not making me redundant as they have offered me employment.

Oh what a mess one of them has to be wrong.

I will look out for those documents you mentioned MCME

They tried to change my contract last year behind my back but someone in HR renewed it by mistake on teacher’s pay and conditions so they had to honour it, so they feel thay have given me an extra year.

They have offerd me stress counsellling to help me cope the physical and emotional strain they are causing me!!!

It is obviously difficult to discuss private issues on a forum as I would probably be easily identified.

Thanks for all your help and support i think I have answered all the questions.

I am waiting for them to reply to the union’s letter.


im not a teacher but a nurse and have had temp contracts i the past but was under the impression that after 2 years of temp contracts you were considered to be permanent regardless of whether they wanted you to be temp or not… and as such would mean that you arent on a temp contract but have been perm for 5 years…

also came across this from the NUT

which i think you will find very informative.


Thanks for the information Lulu.


Hi Sassquatty,

just a quick note to say I’m still looking into things. I have gathered all legal info to pour over this weekend.
To respect your privacy, I will try and email my thought directly rather than through the forum.


They cannot take your pension away as you have contributed to it. If I were you, I would seriously go for ill health retirement. The most pensionable service you can have is 30 years so you could retire now with almost a full pension. They cannot make you redundant and you don’t have to accept redeployment to a role you don’t want.It looks to me like they are looking for ways to save money.
My school is about to go through redundancy proceedings for the 2nd year running and a colleague of mine, who’s taught for 32 years is hoping to get early retirement which wouldn’t be enhanced.
Do you really need the hassle?
Good luck

It was a piece of EU legislation that stopped employers giving rolling temporary contracts to avoid employees receiving the same terms and conditions as permanent employees. As you have been on rolling contracts for a number of years, you appear to be someone who can benefit from this.

Your union hasn’t been much help to you to date and April is not far off, so I recommend you visit the Law Society website to find lists of employment solicitors in your area. When you have a checklist quiz the ones that seem suitable about their relevant experience, success rate winning cases, fee rates etc. You are likely to have this heard in an Employment Tribunal which would mean no award of costs even if you win. Position better in higher courts.

Don’t draw you pension just yet if you can possibly avoid it. It would be much harder to sort out compensation if you have drawn benefits. With luck, they might decide upon a date in the past when you should have been given a permanent job with full package backdated.

When I was well, I used to be an FCII (Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute - Pensions branch),an APMI (Associate of the Pensions Management Institute) and had the CII’s Financial Planning Certificate. I’m rusty and no longer able to give regulated investment advice (because I let my memberships lapse and no longer work for a regulated firm but I do try to keep up with changes.

Legally can give you factual information only, so you might benefit from seeing a pensions advisor also.

It is worth the hassle if you are told there is a relevant charity.

Good luck!

I’m not sure if this will help you but I was interested in your story as it is a little familiar to a situation I was in.
I was on teachers pay and conditions in a non teaching role.

I and my colleagues were told by the council that we could not stay on those contracts and not be teaching in the classroom. As I understand it this had a lot to do with more stringent rules around QTS and terms and conditions improving the lot of teachers.
In the end, after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing our pay was protected but we were put onto different contracts. Soulbury was mentioned but for various reasons in our case wasn’t taken up.

None of this had anything to do with B/c and so I don’t know if it helps to hear this.

I think if I were in your position and had that amount of pension I’d go for early retirement. I do hope it works out well for you whatever you decide.

Good luck

Hi what a pain is bad enough what you have gone through I think that if you are made unemployed you can get them for constructive dismissal if you do take the new contract can you not move your pension I am sure they can’t take it away from you you have paid into it it surely would be frozen until you are eligible to claim it?
I think it is disgraceful and would be inclined to write to my MP and the secretary for Work and Pensions who I think is Ian Duncan Smith.
Let us know how you get on, don’t let the buggers get you down.