Doreen Reeves, a senior employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, warns employers they could face legal challenges when making drastic changes to staff salaries – which is ultimately good news for employees.
“An employer should be careful making detrimental changes to an employee’s salary which would amount to a change to terms and conditions of employment,” she tells HuffPost UK. “If the change is by mutual consent, it is not likely to cause legal or practical problems as an employee may be willing to consent to a change in salary in exchange for home-working.
“However, if the employer unilaterally imposes a change to the agreed rate of salary or other financial benefits, it will amount to a breach of contract.”
If your employer docks your wages without your agreement, you may have a claim for “unlawful deductions from wages”. If you resign over this, you could also bring a claim for constructive dismissal. “However this claim is only available for employees with two years’ service,” Reeves says.
“Salaries are not means tested but are based on skill, experience and qualifications,” she adds. “If an employee is required to take a pay cut as a condition of home-working or flexible working arrangements, an employer should consider the discrimination risks as employees working from home should not be treated less favourably than a comparable employee.”
A Google spokesperson claimed the company would not deduct money from an employee’s salary based on them deciding to work remotely full time – if this is in the city where the office is located. Workers based in the New York City office will be paid exactly the same as those working remotely from another location in New York. However, Google did not address the concerns for commuters in areas like Stamford, Connecticut, outside of New York City.