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Thread: Software evelopment law (UK)

  1. #1
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    Arrow Software evelopment law (UK)

    Hi All

    I was wondering if anyone knows a good source of information on Employment law for software developers? More specifically in the UK?

    I'm interested in the legality of employers switching programming languages and development frameworks when they already have programmers employed but whom dont have knowledge and training in the languages/frameworks they propose to switch to.

    Any ideas or information, especially from UK based programmers would be very welcome!

    Mike

  2. #2
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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    I highly doubt there's any legislation specific to IT for what you describe

    This sort of thing could happen in any industry

    - IT Employer switches out programming language 1/2 way through project
    - Construction employer changes design of building 1/2 way through construction
    - School changes curriculum 1/2 way through school term

    There's various things in English Common Law dealing with fairness in changing circumstances

    Eg. Formal quotations are legally binding, but if a client-requested change can be reasonably expected to result in a higher cost project, the initial quotation is void, and a new quotation needs to be drawn up.

    Eg. If client terminates a project 1/2 way through, you have right to be reasonably compensated for works already carried out

    It's mostly all general stuff built up over centuries of law-making

    What exactly are you asking?
    Code:
    while [ true ]; do CY=$(date +%y); CM=$(date +%m); if [ -n "$PY" ] && [ -n "$PM" ]; then echo "Ubuntu ${CY}.${CM} is the worst release ever"; echo "I'm going back to ${PY}.${PM}"; fi; PY="$CY"; PM="$CM"; sleep 182d; done

  3. #3
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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    Quote Originally Posted by amauk View Post
    I highly doubt there's any legislation specific to IT for what you describe

    This sort of thing could happen in any industry

    - IT Employer switches out programming language 1/2 way through project
    - Construction employer changes design of building 1/2 way through construction
    - School changes curriculum 1/2 way through school term

    There's various things in English Common Law dealing with fairness in changing circumstances

    Eg. Formal quotations are legally binding, but if a client-requested change can be reasonably expected to result in a higher cost project, the initial quotation is void, and a new quotation needs to be drawn up.

    Eg. If client terminates a project 1/2 way through, you have right to be reasonably compensated for works already carried out

    It's mostly all general stuff built up over centuries of law-making

    What exactly are you asking?
    Well I'm basically asking is it correct that I can be employed for the skills I have and have displayed competency, only to have a new programming language thrust upon me.

    I've basically been told that I should go and learn the language on my own and they havent offered re-training.

    Is this legal?

    Mike

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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    I guess this depends on your contract. If your employed on a flexible basis (or your contract is due to terminate), your employer can renegotiate terms as he likes.

    If you're within a contract though, I guess they are allowed to change your tasks, but your only obligation as an employee is to attempt to perform them as well as you can (and only during your bosses time). If you're not very efficient because you aren't educated for the new tasks, this would not be a lawful ground to terminate your contract. If you, however, refuse to accept different work than what you were hired for, he may terminate your contract.

    There are some additional protective measures in most EU countries, but they wont help you in this case. An employer may not tell a programmer to go clean toilets, but he may demand a programmer to use a different software package or programming language.
    Last edited by stefangr1; November 19th, 2010 at 11:09 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    Well, your employer can ask you to do anything he wants, within reason

    If you continue,
    then your employer has to understand that the time-frame for the project is going to increase (quite substantially I'd expect)

    If you're on contract, then I'd say this is reasonable grounds for renegotiating your fee.

    If you're not happy about this then hand in your notice
    If you're on contract, I'd say it's reasonable grounds to quash any termination clause that may be in your contract

    But for Gods sake, if you want legal advice, go to a solicitors
    The last thing you should do is take advice from an Internet forum....
    Code:
    while [ true ]; do CY=$(date +%y); CM=$(date +%m); if [ -n "$PY" ] && [ -n "$PM" ]; then echo "Ubuntu ${CY}.${CM} is the worst release ever"; echo "I'm going back to ${PY}.${PM}"; fi; PY="$CY"; PM="$CM"; sleep 182d; done

  6. #6
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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    While I'm not particularly well versed in employment law (take this with a pinch of salt):

    If you were contracted as a C programmer, then it might allow you to request redundancy. Remember that fundamental job role changes require employee consent, and your job would no longer exist.

    If you were contracted as a programmer, then there is scope for the change, but I imagine that they would have to either provide training or allow for time for learning. If not, and the company are being really 'anti', you could file for constructive dismissal - but only do so after talking with a lawyer.

    Read your contract, thoroughly.
    Last edited by Grenage; November 19th, 2010 at 11:10 AM.

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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    Thanks guys for the helpful info.

    Of course I'm not about to go rolling in like I now have the complete knowledge of the law but it helps to decide if I have reason to go further and take proper legal advice.

    Any more advice or experiences are most welcome as this is sort of a growing interest in software development/employment law anyway.

    By guess bt under contract its meant that I have a proper employment contract and not just a 'Contractors' arrangement. i.s. a proper member of staff?

    Mike

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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    As others have said, employment law is highly complex. One area you might want to explore is called Constructive Dismissal.
    Good overview here:

    http://www.workingrights.co.uk/EffectiveDismissal.html

    If you're a union member get union advice, if not then consider Citizens Advice Bureau.
    Last edited by Megaptera; November 19th, 2010 at 11:16 AM. Reason: Other info posted while I was googling - see #6 above

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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    Quote Originally Posted by Megaptera View Post
    As others have said, employment law is highly complex. One area you might want to explore is called Constructive Dismissal.
    Good overview here:

    http://www.workingrights.co.uk/EffectiveDismissal.html

    If you're a union member get union advice, if not then consider Citizens Advice Bureau.
    Anyone have a good suggestion for the right Union to join?

  10. #10
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    Re: Software evelopment law (UK)

    Which ones does your employer already allow in the workplace? They'll have recognised negotiating rights etc.

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