Springhouse Solicitors

How to change employment terms

We have in the past reported on a number of cases where companies were unable to change the terms of their employment contracts. Here we give you a guide to how you can.

1: First check whether your contract gives you the right to make the change.

But note that:

2: Where changes are not authorised by the contract, what are your options as a business?

Your three broad options are:

We will take these options in turn.

3: Obtain agreement.

This is the best option and you should always start here. From a practical point of view you should:

4: Make the change and hope employees do not object.

Making the change unilaterally will put the business in breach of contract. However, the employee may continue working under the contract for enough time for their agreement to the change to be legally implied.

Where this happens, employees have the following options:

So bear point 5 in mind before embarking on this option, and assume the worst.

5: Terminate the employment and offer re-engagement on the new terms.

Provided a proper process of consultation has been followed, and there are sound and non-discriminatory business reasons for the change, it should be possible to fairly dismiss an employee for ‘some other substantial reason’. Giving contractual notice will limit the employee’s losses.

Offering immediate re-employment on the new terms will also potentially have the effect of reducing the employee’s losses if they were to succeed in a claim.

Where 20 or more employees are dismissed for this reason, collective consultation and statutory notification will apply. Businesses should bear this in mind while they are seeking agreement to any changes, and consider the election and consultation of representatives at an early stage.

The Tribunal will look at the following in deciding whether the dismissal was unfair or not:

6: General pointers.

With any proposed contractual changes, also watch out for the following:

 

If you would like to make changes to your employment terms, or are on the receiving end of proposed changes, let us know. Our experts would be delighted to help.