Employee Contract

Amended Employee Contract – Do I have to sign?

If your employer wishes to change any of the contractual terms and conditions of your employment, i.e. your employee contract, they must have the authority to do so.

Some changes may be uncontroversial, such as pay increases. These are often introduced by mutual consent. You may be less willing to accept other changes and it is important that you know your rights.

Does the employee contract allow the change?

Many contracts of employment contain a clause stating that the employer is entitled to make reasonable amendments to the terms and conditions on giving appropriate notice to the employee. It is important that such clauses are only relied upon to introduce reasonable changes. What is considered reasonable is dependent on the individual circumstances of each employee. For example, many contracts express a place of work as being a specific location ‘or such other location as the employer may reasonably require’.

If the employer in this case wishes to change the place of work they must consider the individual circumstances of each employee including distance, availability of public transport, additional costs, commuting time, availability of childcare etc. In this scenario some employees may in fact welcome the change as the new premises may be closer to their homes. Others may find it impossible to do the new commute. For these employees that change is unlikely to be reasonable and employers should consult with the employees with a view to reaching agreement.

Obtaining consent

When the contract does not allow changes to the terms and conditions of employment, or where the change exceeds what would be considered reasonable, the employer should obtain your consent to any changes. If the changes are significant then it is usual for the employer to consult with the employees (both as a group and individually if necessary). During this consultation process it is usual for individual employees to explain why the changes are not acceptable to them. In some cases, the employer may make amendments to the individual terms that are acceptable so that agreement can be reached.

What if I do not consent?

If, despite consultation with the employer, you still do not consent to the changes to your terms and conditions within your employee contract then the employer can seek to impose them on you by stating that the new terms will come into effect on a specific day. If you do not object, and continue to object, to the proposed changes then the employer is likely to assert that you have implicitly agreed to the new terms and conditions. As such, if you do not agree to the new terms it is vital that you object and explain why you believe the new terms are unreasonable and unacceptable to you.

If no agreement can be reached then as a final option the employer can give notice to terminate your employment and then offer to re-engage you immediately on the new terms. This may give rise to a claim for unfair dismissal. In the event that such a claim is made the employment tribunal would look at a number of factors including whether the employer has consulted over the changes, why you rejected the changes and whether the majority of other employees accepted the changes.

If you have any concerns about this or any other aspect of employment law please not hesitate to contact me on 01789 336 957 or amanda@pillingerandassociates.co.uk

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