A recent case involving trains reminds us that staff have, by and large got to expect to be flexible and to work with changes that might be happening in your organisations. This is probably the case, because you’ll have something in your contracts of employment requiring them to take on such duties as you allocate to them from time to time.
ASLEF the train drivers union has recently faced an injunction from the company that runs Thameslink because it issued memos to staff that there was no agreement for staff to operate the new trains which had 12 carriages as opposed to the older trains which had 10 carriages. Some staff had interpreted this as meaning they shouldn’t drive them and had refused to do so, despite having a contractual commitment to perform “such duties as the company from time to time stipulates”. The employer took the matter to the High Court which held that it was arguable that the Union was inducing a breach of the contract if employment and granted an injunction so that the Union was prevented from doing so.
This is a healthy reminder that flexibility clauses in contracts mean that staff have to take on board developments and changes and move with the times.
If the contract of employment hadn’t been so clear the employer may have struggled as there is no implied term that the employee will be flexible.