Hogg v Dover College

Andrew Boast
4 min read
Hogg v Dover College case summary from employment law friend

A tale as old as time; contracts, agreements and promises that employers think they have a right to change. It happened thirty years ago and happens still. In every kind of workplace from cleaners, police, firefighters and MP’s there is a contract that informs you and your employer what role you play in that workforce, plus other content including hours, holiday pay entitlement, your salary etc. If you don’t understand your role, or if that is suddenly changed, how are you possibly able to complete your job to the best of your ability? Not only this but that could decrease your income. The slightest, unexpected change can destroy lives.

In summary, the case of Hogg vs Dover College is an absolutely absurd example of a contract change and how one man had to fight for the right to remain in his original position, or, at the very least, get the compensation he was due, for such a drastic life change.

Hogg vs Dover College: The case

Mr Hogg, the head of the school's history department, was struck with a serious case of meningitis in 1986, sadly leaving him physically disabled but amazingly he only missed a year (two terms of the school year) battling the severe illness.

In 1987, Mr Hogg received a letter from the headmaster of Dover College. Shockingly, despite Hogg’s quick recovery, the headmaster seemed certain that he could no longer resume his duties as the head of history, his letter confirming that Mr Hogg would be cast aside and another teacher would be taking his place, leaving him with his salary cut by half.

Hogg vs Dover College: Hogg's first steps

As anyone would, Mr Hogg’s sought legal advice and found he had a strong case on the grounds that he was unfairly dismissed , despite still working at the school. This changes to 'unilateral changes in terms of employment’ and the dismissal still stands.

Hogg vs Dover College: Going to Tribunal

At the employment tribunal it was stated that Mr Hogg had one of two choices, take the offer of lesser pay and continue working at the school under a completely new and unexpected contract, or; leave entirely.

Hogg vs Dover College: Appealing the tribunal decision

The E.A.T (Employment Appeal Tribunal) concluded that this was indeed a dismissal and Mr Hogg’s appeal was granted. It remains unclear how he was compensated or if he remained at the school. However, it definitely goes to show that these cases can be won, not that it should happen to anyone, of any age, in any employment, full stop.

If you are facing contract changes, or believe you have been unfairly dismissed, contact Employment Law Friend for information.

Garland J said: ‘The trite law is that of course employment results from a contract. It is the contract at which one has to look, not the relationship of the employer and employee.

Up to 31 July, the applicant, who was well and sympathetically treated by the employers, was head of history; he was employed to teach full-time at a full salary plus such allowances to which he was entitled. On 31 July, he was told that he was no longer head of history; that he would not be employed full-time and he would come down to eight periods a week plus general studies and religious education; that the salary he would receive would be exactly half the new scale which superseded the Burnham scale.

It seems to us, both as a matter of law and common sense, that he was being told that his former contract was from that moment gone. There was no question of any continued performance of it. It is suggested, on behalf of the employers, that there was a variation, but again, it seems to us quite elementary, that you can vary by consent terms of a contract, but you simply cannot hold a pistol to somebody’s head and say: ‘henceforth you are to be employed on wholly different terms which are in fact less than 50 per cent of your previous contract. We come unhesitatingly to the conclusion that there was a dismissal on 31 July.’

Have you been unfairly dismissed?

You can use our online documents to run your own employment law case and dispute your unfair dismissal claim or you can get in contact and see how we can help you.

Whether you need help drafting your Grievance Letter or want us to handle your application to the employment tribunal, our solicitor provides specialist advice at competitive rates. We will even help you work out whether you have a case worth pursuing.

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