Can an employer change your role within the company?

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My boss said he wants to change my role or have me resign, despite strong performance, but for supposed culture fit reasons (note: I get a long well with colleagues, but he said he thinks I'm not the right fit). My title is clearly stated in my contract & defines my duties as being similar to those of the same title within similar companies (basically: the role is not ambiguous). Does he legally have the right to change my title/responsibilities? 

 

Note: I posted a similar question yesterday about this, but that question was more about if he could terminate my contract after probezeit for culture fit (NOT a performance issue), however I realize I'm still not entirely clear if he is allowed to just change my role from what is in my contract

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@ExPattheDog  My Job Contract had a clause that said that the company can assign me other tasks other than the ones listed in my contract, depending on how and what the business sees fit. So I assume that this is legal(my employer puts a lot of value in employee rights, and doing the things the right way) to do. So check your contract. If you have a Worker's Union(or Council) contact them for support, if not involve the HR.

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@ExPattheDog After Probezeit, the one thing they CANNOT do, is assign you a different role without your permission AND ALSO lower your salary while doing that.

 

You would have to keep on earning exactly the same salary in your newly assigned (unwanted) role. 

 

"Culture fit" sounds either overly diplomatic, or suspiciously vague.

 

Corporate culture is broadly the same in the same company whether you move someone from one department to another. I can't see how a "culture" can dramatically change enough simply by switching roles. 

 

If by "culture fit" your boss is trying to be diplomatic and thinks moving you away from contact with certain individuals will help improve things, then:

 

a) They should say that, and evidence why that is needed instead of other options.

 

B) They have failed in their role as manager to "manage" people and find an acceptable solution. All you do by plonking a person in a different unwanted role is evade / avoid things.

 

For a boss to encourage the employee to resign (rather than firing them) is also very, very silly and pathetic. What are they afraid of? Lemme see... ah yes, that they already know they would lose a court battle at the Arbeitsgericht, and so stupidly demonstrate that lack of legal confidence by urging their employee to resign... 

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6 hours ago, ExPattheDog said:

I realize I'm still not entirely clear if he is allowed to just change my role from what is in my contract

 

typically

 

3 hours ago, notme said:

My Job Contract had a clause that said that the company can assign me other tasks other than the ones listed in my contract, depending on how and what the business sees fit.

 

I think we need specifics, what is your role, what role does your boss suggest, what else changes salary?

 

At the end of the day "can they do this" tends to come down to can you realistically expect to win if you sue them.  How much apetite do you have for a legal case?  

 

My suggestion, sit your boss down, ask what is really going on, tell them you wont quit and depending a bit how it goes tell them you will sue if they fire you.  Balls in your court boss, how do you want to play it? 

 

Assuming you have some useful skills, you will probably end up doing a deal where they pay X and you leave, get another job and move on.

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On 05/12/2019, 17:20:21, zwiebelfisch said:

 

typically

 

 

I think we need specifics, what is your role, what role does your boss suggest, what else changes salary?

 

At the end of the day "can they do this" tends to come down to can you realistically expect to win if you sue them.  How much apetite do you have for a legal case?  

 

My suggestion, sit your boss down, ask what is really going on, tell them you wont quit and depending a bit how it goes tell them you will sue if they fire you.  Balls in your court boss, how do you want to play it? 

 

Assuming you have some useful skills, you will probably end up doing a deal where they pay X and you leave, get another job and move on.

 

My role is Head of X [Redacted]. What's written in contract is below.

 

The Employer agrees to employ the Employee as a X Lead [OMITTING TITLE FOR ANONYMITY] and the Employee agrees to be employed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement.

 

The Employee shall carry out any and all lawful and legitimate duties assigned by the Employer. Such duties may include, but are not limited to, duties performed by one in such a position, employed by a business or organization similar to that of the Employer.

 

However, In Organisational Chart and all other internal and external communications, my title is referred to as Head of X (e.g. is the standard way my boss refers to my title with clients and the team) , although my contract states X Lead.  The two have been used interchangeably in the organisation. I'm unsure if this detail could mean a legal way he can now effectively demote me in terms of de facto title and responsibilities, without prior written warning. However, specific title aside, its very clear from the Slack message my boss sent me he is referring to a DIFFERENT role than I am currently doing, and it is clear from communications it is in effect a demotion. 

 

Again, please keep in mind I've been getting good results, working over 50hrs a week, etc. and no prior warnings have been given

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so you already have a lot of information - I'm not sure what more you want to know/hear based on this excerpt from your contract.

 

you haven't outlined the "new" role they want you to fulfill so it's impossible to even guess if you're really being abused or not.  I mean, yeah, if they want you to clean the bathrooms you probably have a good case as that is not in line with the normal work of a lead something - UNLESS they want everyone to take turns cleaning the bathrooms which is a different kettle of fish. 

 

for all we know they just want to move you to lead a different group or something.  Switching your role may actually be a good thing but it's impossible to guess if you don't give any details about what the new role might be.

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On 05/12/2019, 17:20:21, zwiebelfisch said:

 

3 hours ago, lisa13 said:

so you already have a lot of information - I'm not sure what more you want to know/hear based on this excerpt from your contract.

 

you haven't outlined the "new" role they want you to fulfill so it's impossible to even guess if you're really being abused or not.  I mean, yeah, if they want you to clean the bathrooms you probably have a good case as that is not in line with the normal work of a lead something - UNLESS they want everyone to take turns cleaning the bathrooms which is a different kettle of fish. 

 

for all we know they just want to move you to lead a different group or something.  Switching your role may actually be a good thing but it's impossible to guess if you don't give any details about what the new role might be.

 

 

The role my boss wants me to do hasn't even been outlined to me yet -- he said he just doesn't want me in my current role anymore & would need to think about what a new role would be. The only thing that's clear is that it's certainly a demotion. 

 

We haven't talked about salary yet or anything like that

 

My boss (founder of the company) is very scattered and hasn't actually issued this officially yet via writing - it was first verbal and then over slack, but only after I pressed him to confirm my understanding

 

Basically, in short,  my boss said I'm with immediate effect no longer in my current role, but has given me no details on what my options would be if I stay, and said he would pay me 3 mo garden leave to leave. I asked him what he would want me to do if I stay and he said he doesn't know yet, but it's clear that if I were to stay I would likely be reporting into the title I currently hold now (hence, a demotion). All of this has been discussed informally, which is frustrating, because I think that these matters really should be handled professionally and in line with HR best practices. No warnings were given.

 

Unrelated, but I also noticed in my contract it says a couple of other things which were odd:  following: (for the first point, note my pay includes variable pay)

 

1. It says I would receive "X euro on target earning gross annual on target sales commission, paid quarterly according to the terms of the commission plan, less all applicable withholdings and deductions." - Note that no such on target sales commissions plans are in place, despite my continual pushing. Instead, my variable pay has been left to the discretion of my boss so far, and calculated on me reaching targets for a DIFFERENT role than my title - I have earned the full bonus so far, but still none of this seems legal or fair, because it resulted in me effectively doing 2 jobs at once. Most weeks I've worked upwards of 50hrs,  worked sick, forgone holidays,  skipped lunches, etc. in order to do both well (my boss knows this)

 

2. Also, 3 months ago my work computer broke and I didn't receive a fixed one for 2 months -- meaning, for 2 months I had to work on my personal laptop

 

3. Finally, the last point I don't understand in my contract is "Necessary travel expenses incurred by the Employee for employment-related travel will be fully reimbursed by the Employer." I have never received such a reimbursement

 

 

4.Not sure if this part is relevant too?

Assignment:
The Employer reserves the right to assign this Agreement to an affiliated company or to any successor in interest to its business without notice to the Employee, and all the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect thereafter.

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Germans and their contracts...christ.  I've never had and even refused contracts.  You pay me; I work.  You don't; I don't.  I like it here; I stay.  I don't; I go.  You like me; you pay me.  You don't like me; I go.  It's never been complicated...it's always been clear and to me, fair and equal.

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22 minutes ago, ExPattheDog said:

 

 

The role my boss wants me to do hasn't even been outlined to me yet -- he said he just doesn't want me in my current role anymore & would need to think about what a new role would be. The only thing that's clear is that it's certainly a demotion. 

 

We haven't talked about salary yet or anything like that

 

My boss (founder of the company) is very scattered and hasn't actually issued this officially yet via writing - it was first verbal and then over slack, but only after I pressed him to confirm my understanding

 

Basically, in short,  my boss said I'm with immediate effect no longer in my current role, but has given me no details on what my options would be if I stay, and said he would pay me 3 mo garden leave to leave. I asked him what he would want me to do if I stay and he said he doesn't know yet, but it's clear that if I were to stay I would likely be reporting into the title I currently hold now (hence, a demotion). All of this has been discussed informally, which is frustrating, because I think that these matters really should be handled professionally and in line with HR best practices. No warnings were given.

 

Unrelated, but I also noticed in my contract it says a couple of other things which were odd:  following: (for the first point, note my pay includes variable pay)

 

1. It says I would receive "X euro on target earning gross annual on target sales commission, paid quarterly according to the terms of the commission plan, less all applicable withholdings and deductions." - Note that no such on target sales commissions plans are in place, despite my continual pushing. Instead, my variable pay has been left to the discretion of my boss so far, and calculated on me reaching targets for a DIFFERENT role than my title - I have earned the full bonus so far, but still none of this seems legal or fair, because it resulted in me effectively doing 2 jobs at once. Most weeks I've worked upwards of 50hrs,  worked sick, forgone holidays,  skipped lunches, etc. in order to do both well (my boss knows this)

 

2. Also, 3 months ago my work computer broke and I didn't receive a fixed one for 2 months -- meaning, for 2 months I had to work on my personal laptop

 

3. Finally, the last point I don't understand in my contract is "Necessary travel expenses incurred by the Employee for employment-related travel will be fully reimbursed by the Employer." I have never received such a reimbursement

 

 

4.Not sure if this part is relevant too?

Assignment:
The Employer reserves the right to assign this Agreement to an affiliated company or to any successor in interest to its business without notice to the Employee, and all the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect thereafter.

 

 

And this part 5. Also This Agreement comprises the entirety of the terms and conditions of
employment as understood and agreed upon by the Employer and the
Employee. The Employer and Employee state that they have not made any
representations regarding the subject matter of this Agreement except the
representations specifically set forth in this Agreement; there are no further
items or provisions, either written or oral. Both the Employer and the
Employee acknowledge that they have relied upon their own independent
legal counsel and judgment in entering into this Agreement.

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48 minutes ago, ExPattheDog said:

The role my boss wants me to do hasn't even been outlined to me yet -- he said he just doesn't want me in my current role anymore & would need to think about what a new role would be. The only thing that's clear is that it's certainly a demotion. 

 

We haven't talked about salary yet or anything like that

 

Maybe you should fork out the cash for a consultation with a lawyer.  You need to be very careful what you sign.  If you willingly quit your job, you will most likely be blocked from receiving unemployment benefits for some time.  If they demote you and cut your salary or fire you, you might have a case to sue them.

 

48 minutes ago, ExPattheDog said:

1. It says I would receive "X euro on target earning gross annual on target sales commission, paid quarterly according to the terms of the commission plan, less all applicable withholdings and deductions." - Note that no such on target sales commissions plans are in place, despite my continual pushing. Instead, my variable pay has been left to the discretion of my boss so far, and calculated on me reaching targets for a DIFFERENT role than my title - I have earned the full bonus so far, but still none of this seems legal or fair, because it resulted in me effectively doing 2 jobs at once. Most weeks I've worked upwards of 50hrs,  worked sick, forgone holidays,  skipped lunches, etc. in order to do both well (my boss knows this)

 

2. Also, 3 months ago my work computer broke and I didn't receive a fixed one for 2 months -- meaning, for 2 months I had to work on my personal laptop

 

3. Finally, the last point I don't understand in my contract is "Necessary travel expenses incurred by the Employee for employment-related travel will be fully reimbursed by the Employer." I have never received such a reimbursement

 

4.Not sure if this part is relevant too?

Assignment:
The Employer reserves the right to assign this Agreement to an affiliated company or to any successor in interest to its business without notice to the Employee, and all the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect thereafter.

 

1. It seems to me that if there is a bonus system mentioned that you should be able to get the info on how the bonus system works in order to understand if you are getting paid correctly.  It should not be something that your boss pulls out of his behind on a whim.  That's one thing to discuss with a lawyer too.  However, being management, unpaid overtime is a part of the job.

 

2. Bringing your laptop means they didn't have to hurry fixing yours.  If you hadn't brought it, even said you don't have one, they would have fixed it a lot sooner.

 

3. Have you asked for reimbursement?  What kind of travel do you do?  Do you drive to see clients as a part of your normal work day using your own car?  Or are you taking longer trips?

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4 minutes ago, LeonG said:

 

Maybe you should fork out the cash for a consultation with a lawyer.  You need to be very careful what you sign.  If you willingly quit your job, you will most likely be blocked from receiving unemployment benefits for some time.  If they demote you and cut your salary or fire you, you might have a case to sue them.

 

 

1. It seems to me that if there is a bonus system mentioned that you should be able to get the info on how the bonus system works in order to understand if you are getting paid correctly.  It should not be something that your boss pulls out of his behind on a whim.  That's one thing to discuss with a lawyer too.  However, being management, unpaid overtime is a part of the job.

 

2. Bringing your laptop means they didn't have to hurry fixing yours.  If you hadn't brought it, even said you don't have one, they would have fixed it a lot sooner.

 

3. Have you asked for reimbursement?  What kind of travel do you do?  Do you drive to see clients as a part of your normal work day using your own car?  Or are you taking longer trips?

 

 

I'm speaking with a lawyer on Wednesday but feeling impatient to wrap my head around this as it concerns my financial future

 

Yes, I have asked and told we don't receive it. I travel at least 3x a week to see clients on public transport, and also had to pay 50euros for taxis while our team was at a company offsite - I had no knowledge in advance I would be forced to pay for the taxi (small change in the end, but still, right now everything is mattering to me more)

 

If the demotion doesn't incur a pay change, can I still sue or not?

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Just now, ExPattheDog said:

Yes, I have asked and told we don't receive it. I travel at least 3x a week to see clients on public transport, and also had to pay 50euros for taxis while our team was at a company offsite - I had no knowledge in advance I would be forced to pay for the taxi (small change in the end, but still, right now everything is mattering to me more)

 

If the demotion doesn't incur a pay change, can I still sue or not?

 

 

How can they say they don't pay for travel costs when it's in the contract?   This doesn't sound like a very serious company to me.  I don't care if it's a bus ticket for 2€.  It's still travel expenses and you should get reimbursed.

 

I'm not a lawyer but I don't think you can sue if a company moves you around but keeps paying you the same.  However, I'm sure the lawyer can tell you.

 

From what I'm hearing about your employer, whimsical bonus system and travel costs not being paid even though it's in the contract, I am sure they will try their best to screw you over.  Good luck with the lawyer.

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5 hours ago, ExPattheDog said:

It says I would receive "X euro on target earning gross annual on target sales commission, paid quarterly according to the terms of the commission plan, less all applicable withholdings and deductions." - Note that no such on target sales commissions plans are in place, despite my continual pushing.

 

Does it specify a base salary? Which proportion is variable?  I have seen variable salary contracts for management roles, but yours sounds much more like a sales contract than a "head of X" contract.  Unless X is sales.

 

4 hours ago, ExPattheDog said:

Yes, I have asked and told we don't receive it. I travel at least 3x a week to see clients on public transport, and also had to pay 50euros for taxis while our team was at a company offsite

 

Sounds wrong to me, but the contract isnt the only thing thats applicable here, what does the company travel policy say? Does it, for example say taxi should not be used?  

 

4 hours ago, ExPattheDog said:

If the demotion doesn't incur a pay change, can I still sue or not?

 

You can sue of course.  The question is whether you can expect to win, and assuming you do what will you get.  Id imagine that if they pay you them same money for "less" work you are unlikely to get a huge settlement even if you do win.  But ask a lawyer, these questions are far from simple.

 

 

5 hours ago, ExPattheDog said:

Basically, in short,  my boss said I'm with immediate effect no longer in my current role, but has given me no details on what my options would be if I stay, and said he would pay me 3 mo garden leave to leave. I asked him what he would want me to do if I stay and he said he doesn't know yet, but it's clear that if I were to stay I would likely be reporting into the title I currently hold now (hence, a demotion).

 

This is my experience of how managers get fired.  My interpretation is that you are expected to know its over, that you will never get promoted, never get a pay rise, and probably be given all the shite jobs, and sent on secondment to the arse end of the world at the drop of a hat.  So its easier for everyone if you just do the honorable thing and leave.  If you do so we will wave your notice period, maybe bung you a few euros extra, promise a good reference, whatever.

 

I imagine the boss doesnt know what will happen if you dont leave, because that option isnt (in his eyes) on the table.  The question is just what details end up being negotiated.

 

5 hours ago, ExPattheDog said:

calculated on me reaching targets for a DIFFERENT role than my title

 

Could this be the key to the whole story?  What role (forget job titles for a second) does your boss think you have and expect you to perform.  

 

Lets say your role is "head of technology", but the boss envisions this as going out and winning high value contracts.  You end up doing two jobs, getting good feedback from the team, but utterly failing in the eyes of your boss who sees you just scraping thorough your targets with bleary eyes and 50 hours a week and constantly giving updates on the wrong KPIs.

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20 minutes ago, zwiebelfisch said:

 

Does it specify a base salary? Which proportion is variable?  I have seen variable salary contracts for management roles, but yours sounds much more like a sales contract than a "head of X" contract.  Unless X is sales.

 

 

Sounds wrong to me, but the contract isnt the only thing thats applicable here, what does the company travel policy say? Does it, for example say taxi should not be used?  

 

 

You can sue of course.  The question is whether you can expect to win, and assuming you do what will you get.  Id imagine that if they pay you them same money for "less" work you are unlikely to get a huge settlement even if you do win.  But ask a lawyer, these questions are far from simple.

 

This is my experience of how managers get fired.  My interpretation is that you are expected to know its over, that you will never get promoted, never get a pay rise, and probably be given all the shite jobs, and sent on secondment to the arse end of the world at the drop of a hat.  So its easier for everyone if you just do the honorable thing and leave.  If you do so we will wave your notice period, maybe bung you a few euros extra, promise a good reference, whatever.

 

I imagine the boss doesnt know what will happen if you dont leave, because that option isnt (in his eyes) on the table.  The question is just what details end up being negotiated.

 

Could this be the key to the whole story?  What role (forget job titles for a second) does your boss think you have and expect you to perform.  

 

Lets say your role is "head of technology", but the boss envisions this as going out and winning high value contracts.  You end up doing two jobs, getting good feedback from the team, but utterly failing in the eyes of your boss who sees you just scraping thorough your targets with bleary eyes and 50 hours a week and constantly giving updates on the wrong KPIs.

 

Yes, X is sales related. It's 25% of my total compensation.

 

There's nothing specified about use of taxis,  etc. the taxi was not actually my choice but spontaneously required during an offsite when the designated drivers decided to drink.

 

Lets say my title is head of sales & my company does consulting - I've been doing sales + consultant work. Ironically, I'm actually performing high on all metrics & KPIs. My boss said he sees me providing value to the team, but after changing his story several times, has settled on 2 things: 1. feels I should have a different sales style (ironically the one he wants I'm very well versed in and already do, and would of course be happy to adapt if needed), 2. he now feels a slightly different background for the role would be beneficial, despite being content with my background when he hired me

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5 minutes ago, ExPattheDog said:

after changing his story several times, has settled on 2 things: 1. feels I should have a different sales style (ironically the one he wants I'm very well versed in and already do, and would of course be happy to adapt if needed), 2. he now feels a slightly different background for the role would be beneficial, despite being content with my background when he hired me

 

You, I, and he all know that this isnt what is really going on.  I dont know the true underlying problem is, but it isnt this.

 

At the end of the day the head of sales and the boss are going to have to work closely together and for whatever reason this doesnt look like its going to work. Doesnt sound to me like this is a big enough company for people at that level to avoid each other or work effectively without a common understanding.

 

Maybe some others have other suggestions, but my gut feeling is that sooner or later you will have to move on, so the real question here is how much you can squeeze out of a deal.

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1 minute ago, zwiebelfisch said:

 

You, I, and he all know that this isnt what is really going on.  I dont know the true underlying problem is, but it isnt this.

 

At the end of the day the head of sales and the boss are going to have to work closely together and for whatever reason this doesnt look like its going to work. Doesnt sound to me like this is a big enough company for people at that level to avoid each other or work effectively without a common understanding.

 

Maybe some others have other suggestions, but my gut feeling is that sooner or later you will have to move on, so the real question here is how much you can squeeze out of a deal.

 

In your experience are these phony reasons (and way of being communicated, i.e. only verbally & over slack so far) legal? 

 

I agree all of the reasons my boss have gave are utter BS. It's clearly just that he doesn't want to work with me, despite how much effort I've put into collaborating effectively with him (he is very aggressive at times, scattered, forgetful, etc. not saying I'm perfect but I'm amazed after all of this)

 

If it is legal (which is my worst fear here), how much could I reasonably still ask for in a severance package? He verbally offered 3 mo garden leave (unclear if salary would be just the base or base + bonus), but realistically at my seniority level,  english speaking only, in Berlin, I expect to need 6 months to find the right fit. Can I ask him for 6 mo (base + bonus) or is that just insane?

 

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You can try asking for 6 months and see what happens.  Answers could be yes, no or meet you half way.  I can't see that asking would make your situation worse.  Still, you are seeing a lawyer anyway so run it by the lawyer. 

 

Abfindung or pay out is normally 2 weeks per year you've worked.  Say if you'd worked 6 years you could expect 3 months.  But if they are eager to get rid of you, it might be more. 

 

Sure you can also sit around in your new role and collect your pay check until you find something else.  Sure you can sue the employer too but that could go on for a long time and you may not end up winning or even losing.  Could end up with a settlement for the 3 months they offered and you are out the lawyers fees..  Also if you are looking for a new job, it's not exactly a recommendation for you that you are in court with your current employer

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2 minutes ago, LeonG said:

You can try asking for 6 months and see what happens.  Answers could be yes, no or meet you half way.  I can't see that asking would make your situation worse.  Still, you are seeing a lawyer anyway so run it by the lawyer. 

 

Abfindung or pay out is normally 2 weeks per year you've worked.  Say if you'd worked 6 years you could expect 3 months.  But if they are eager to get rid of you, it might be more. 

 

 

I've only worked with them for 8 months so by that, I would be totally screwed. Does it matter that my notice period is 3 months anyway? I feel like, in effect, this essentially means my boss can get away with illegal termination after probezeit. I know it sounds ridic, but the "justice" factor here is really getting to me

 

You're right its risky to go to court - aside from losing & lawyer fees, what other risk should I be aware of? I'm trying to think carefully about all the possibility

 

I will ask my boss to put everything formally in writing (he probably won't anytime at a reasonable pace) & take it to my lawyer & see what's the best I can hope for

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