In this times of tough climate it is not unheard of for employers to implement various measures to cut costs but avoid redundancies. Measures I have seen are temporary reductions in the working week, reductions in hours per day, periods of unpaid holiday and removal of many company perks.
Whilst there is obviously the need to consult such on such changes, it is important to consider the other aspects of employment law even where the change is agreed as well of course balancing the effect on employee morale. The Court of Appeal case of Abercrombie v Aga Rangemaster Ltd 2013 is a useful reminder of unconsidered implications, In this case, the staff agreed to not work Fridays for several months. An issue then arose about whether the employees should have received a guarantee payment. The Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal both said no.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. It held that just because it was an agreed temporary variation did not preclude a guarantee payment being due for that Friday. Throughout the agreed period Fridays remained days where the employees were contractually required to work so being workless entitled them to a guarantee payment for that day. Given it was an agreed variation this can sometimes be overlooked so it is important to watch out for that hidden angle.