top of page

Varying Employees Contracts of Employment

Today we are exploring some of the challenges that you may be faced with when considering changing an employees existing terms and conditions of employment.

There may be times in your business when you need to make a change to your contracts of employment. On most occasions the changes are easy, and employees will agree, for example when increasing salary. Other times and when making more significant changes, employees may not be so accommodating.

When considering making changes, it is important to remember that terms of employment can be either expressed or implied and that even if there is nothing in writing, terms may have been agreed verbally or, by the actions that you and the employee have been taking. Don’t assume that because something isn’t written down that it is not legally binding between the business and the employee. This can be a fatal error!

When making any changes to terms and conditions communication is key. Your top priority should be to outline to employees what your business reasons are for making the change as the best way to make any changes is to seek agreement with employees from the outset. We all know through experience that consulting with employees is the best way to introduce change, allowing yourself to be challenged along the way so that both parties have had the opportunity to be heard. In our experience, a consultative approach from the start of the process with sound explanation and reasoning for the change will result in most employees eventually agreeing to the change (this will depend on the complexities and impact of the changes you are seeking to make)

Of course, these situations are never straight forward, and you may find yourself faced with an employee who refuses to accept the change, even if everybody else has agreed to it. In these situations, you can either unilaterally impose the change or dismiss and re-engage the employee (this can be complex so please seek professional advice if you are contemplating this course of action)

Both of these approaches are not without risk and can result in the employee making a claim in an Employment Tribunal. Firstly, an employee could resign and claim that you are in breach of a fundamental terms of the contract and therefore claim constructive unfair dismissal or alternatively (and this one is very awkward), they could remain employed and make a claim for breach of contract.

So, before you make any changes to terms and conditions in your business, PLAN AHEAD. You should know the business reason for making the change, any potential legal vulnerabilities, whether the contract term is expressed or implied and most importantly, have a timeline of how you are going to consult with employees.

For help and support with making contract variations in your business please with us today.


bottom of page