How far can an employer change the tasks assigned to an employee?
The employee is protected under his or her employment contract and labour standards. Certain elements of the employment contract cannot be modified by the employer without the prior agreement of the employee. These are the qualification, remuneration, duration and, to a lesser extent, the place of work.
The employee is assigned a work center that requires a certain qualification and a number of duties or tasks. We will therefore consider that within the framework of its power of direction, the employer will be able to modify the attributions entrusted to his employee. But to what extent? Because the modification of the attributions can lead to the modification of the employee's qualification either in one direction or in the other. Moreover, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the employee has received the necessary training to perform his or her duties. An omission at this level on the part of the employer will create great difficulties in the work environment.
Change of qualification
The employee's position will thus be devalued because the tasks entrusted to him/her no longer require the same qualification. On the other hand, he will consider that his new duties are much more complex and require a higher qualification and therefore the corresponding remuneration.
The employer must act with great tact. If he can impose changes in tasks, this must not affect the employee's qualifications.
He or she must have a certain amount of leeway to adapt each person's responsibilities to the operating needs of his or her company. Thus, he or she may entrust new functions to one or another, or remove functions that are no longer necessary or that must, for organizational reasons, be entrusted to another employee.
The change of tasks does not lead to a change in the employment contract if the employee's qualification is not called into question. On the other hand, it can lead to changes in the personnel assignment because the employee's responsibilities are significantly reduced.
The employer must always take great care to ensure that the employee's qualifications are not attained. This is why it is so important to draw up the employment contract in order to define the position and the tasks entrusted to the employee.
By Christine Therien
References by François-Xavier Michel, Droits-Finances