In 2003 the company set mileage rates at 15p mile for certain employees driving their own cars. In 2007 the company was bought out and became part of a larger group. The current head of the company resigned and a new manager was recruited to take over. In January 2008 this manager (who is the operational head of the company) changed the mileage rates for employees using their own cars from 15p mile to 20p mile due to the increases in fuel costs. Again in April 2010 he increased the mileage to 40p for first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter in line with Inland Revenue rates. Both changes were confirmed in writing from the manager to the affected employees.

The affected employees have received an email on 31st October from the same manager stating that as from the 1st November all mileage rates will revert to 15p mile as the previous changes were not sanctioned by the group board. The manager made the changes in good faith based on a belief that he had the right to make these changes in his position as head of the company – the previous manager in his position did have this right.

What options are available to employees to respond as 15p mile does not even cover the cost of fuel for some employees who are obliged under their contract of employment to drive on company business (average annual mileages range from 2,000 to 45,000).

The affected employees have initially disagreed subject to reviewing their options.

The affected employees also elected a representitive to liaise with the group and asked for a meeting to review/negotiate the situation. The director refused to hold a meeting until all employees agreed to the 15p mile. He said then the board would review the rate but that it may still not increase beyond 15p mile.

What options are available to the affected employees? Can they be forced to drive thousands of miles on company business at cost to themselves?