change in job duties, constructive dismissal, employment lawyer toronto

Can Employers Change Job Duties in the Workplace?

When applying for a new job, employers will typically provide prospective employees with job descriptions that outline the responsibilities of the position. Sometimes, employees may find themselves without a job description. Instead, some employees may assume duties over time that make up the core of their role. Whether it is written or not, there are certain duties employees may do that are considered a fundamental part of their job. This is true regardless of if these duties were explicitly written, assigned or taken on over time. But what happens when a change in job duties is made unilaterally by their employer? What happens if certain responsibilities are removed from their role? This article aims to address this question and provide some answers.

What Can Be Considered a Change In Job Duties?

A change in duties can occur when the terms of an employee’s role are altered in a substantial way. Examples of substantial changes include:

  1. A decrease in pay or work hours
  2. Relocating your job location,
  3. A decrease in tasks, or
  4. A demotion in your role/title.

If an employer wants to make a major change to their employee’s duties, the employer needs to communicate this change to their employee. The employer should also provide consideration to make the new agreement enforceable. Employers should also be sure not to make changes to employee duties which may be found to be discriminatory, and contravene Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

What Is Consideration And Why Do I Need It?

In general, an employment contract needs to contain some sort of benefit or consideration. In most employment contracts, this would be an exchange where an employee provides their skills, labour and services to the company and the employer would provide compensation to the employee in return. The employer would extend an offer outlining this consideration and the employee would accept. All valid and enforceable employment contracts contain this exchange.

What Happens If My Employer Changes My Duties Without Providing Notice or Consideration?

If your employer unilaterally changes your job, for example, by reducing your workload or pay, it could be considered a substantial change to your employment relationship.

Additionally, if your employer changes your duties without providing you notice or consideration, your employment agreement could be considered unenforceable. As an employee, you could be considered constructively dismissed and sue for damages.

If an employer wishes to make a substantial change to an employee’s duties, then the employer must communicate this change to the employee, provide them adequate notice and consideration to make the contract or new position valid.

As an employee, if your employer provides you notice of a change to your employment, it is crucial to review what is being proposed to you and what you are potentially agreeing to. As an employee, if you are not provided adequate notice or consideration, you do not have to agree to the proposed changes to your duties.

Conclusion

As an employee, it is important to note that your employer cannot make changes to your employment agreement or duties without providing you adequate notice and consideration. If you feel your employment duties have substantially changed, it may be beneficial to contact an employment lawyer to review your new duties or employment agreement.

Contact Us

If you are an employer and looking to change your employee’s duties, or an employee who believes you’ve been constructively dismissed, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (866) 508-2548 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with same day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.