ASK HR: We were spared the axe, but have been offered poor terms


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Q. I am a PR specialist working for a charter flight company.

Our firm was recently sold off to a competitor. The takeover came with job losses.

Those of us who were spared the axe have been offered poorer working terms than we were getting from our previous employer? Is this action justified?

It is not easy for one to lose their job under circumstances such as the ones you describe, but selling a business instead of closing it down seems a better option. Though this action has not secured jobs for everyone, it is always important to remember that work contracts can come to an end any time. However, all employment contracts are protected under the Employment Act 2007, and if there is change of ownership, all matters pertaining to change of employment have to be done within this law. You need to consider your case under the following circumstances that guide how employees’ contracts are treated during transfer of ownership:

  •    If your service is not continuing with the new employer, you are paid a redundancy since your role ceases to exist.

  •   If your service continues, you sign a new contract that confirms transfer of past service to the new employer. In this case you continue to earn the same salary and receive benefits as before because your role is still required despite change of ownership. 

  •   If your service with your former employer has been compensated through a redundancy payoff and the new owners have decided to hire you into their company, you will sign a new contract, whose salary will be determined by the scope of work. This means the employer is free to make changes in your pay and benefits to align them to their pay structure. Your role at this point is to negotiate and agree to these terms, just like you would in any new contract.

As you are aware, employers have different pay and benefit structures to suit their financial capability. There is nothing stopping your employer from giving you new terms, in the new company, under a new contract, and once you agree to these terms, they legally bind you. If there is a case of mismatch of your skills and your salary, raise this up with your manager and have it resolved.

I am sure there are details that you may not discuss openly. I also advise that you seek legal guidance just to be sure that you have been treated fairly. 

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