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It’s our way or the highway – what if private sector employees followed Government treatment of NHS junior doctors?

You will no doubt be aware of NHS junior doctors’ strike action over the Government’s intended changes to their pay and hours. The BMA is planning to apply for a judicial review of this decision. Some employers may be wondering what would happen if they unilaterally forced changes in pay or hours on their employees.

Of course you could be faced with a walk out. But is there any way around this where the changes are necessary for your business?  It may be that you don’t want to dismiss key employees on grounds of redundancy; particularly where you are hoping business will pick up, but need a temporary ‘fix’.

So what options do you have? You may wish to:

• temporarily lay off some or all of your employees,
• put some employees on short term working,
• reduce employees’ pay or benefits,
• dismiss some ‘overhead’ employees on grounds of redundancy,
• restructure employees’ jobs.

Your actions may depend on any terms in their contract of employment and even then such actions could put you at risk of claims for example for constructive / unfair dismissal claims or unlawful discrimination if you are perceived to treat employees differently because of their age or sex or because they have a disability. Therefore you have to think very carefully before proceeding.

If you are in this situation and want to discuss the best options for your business so as to handle the situation as fairly as you can and to minimise the risk of claims, and would like a copy of our free guidance note on settlement agreements, contact your usual adviser in the team.


Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this newsletter/blog are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.

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