"...this new amendment will introduce additional rights for employees, specifically in relation to flexibility in working hours and location."
Ashley Quenault, Advocate
On 17th January 2024, the States Assembly adopted the Employment (Amendment No.15) (Jersey) Law 202- (the “Amendment Law”). This amendment, once enacted, will introduce additional rights for employees, specifically in relation to flexibility in working hours and location. Here we look at some of the key aspects of the Amendment Law and how it aims to balance the interests of both employers and employees.
Many employees are engaged under employment contracts which permit a greater or lesser degree of flexibility, particularly in relation to working hours or location. The Amendment Law grants employees, regardless of their length of service, the right to request changes to their employment contract if they have maintained a settled work pattern for six months. This settled work pattern can be either formally agreed upon with the employer or informally established.
The right to request an amendment can only be invoked once in a 12-month period. As stated, there has to have been a settled work pattern established and in operation for a period of six months. The proposed changes to the employment contract can only relate to bringing the contract into alignment with the established work pattern. In essence, it gives an employee the right to request a formalisation of their settled working routine into their employment contract.
Upon receiving a request, an employer has a maximum of four weeks (extendable by agreement) to consider it. The employer can reject the request if:
The amendments do not reflect the employee’s actual work pattern;
The amendment would have a seriously detrimental effect on the performance of the employer’s business;
The employer has reasonable grounds to consider that the employee’s work pattern will change within four weeks of the date on which the request was made; or
The employee’s contract of employment is due to end within four weeks of the date on which the request is made.
In case of refusal, the employer must provide reasons for the decision. The employee can then request a review within two weeks of being informed of the refusal. The employer’s options following a review request are either granting the amendment or holding a meeting to discuss it.
The primary motivation behind the introduction of the Amendment Law was to address the exploitation of zero-hour contracts when regular hours were being worked. This amendment emphasises the need for employment contracts to accurately reflect the reality of work arrangements. While employers have the ability to reject requests, it’s a narrow scope since proper requests must aim to align contracts with the actual work situation.
In conclusion, the Amendment Law seeks to strike a balance between protecting employee rights and allowing employers flexibility, with the ultimate goal of ensuring employment contracts reflect the true nature of the work relationship.