Changing terms and conditions of employment
Changing terms and conditions of employment

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Changing terms and conditions of employment
  • Contractual principles
  • Ascertaining the contractual terms
  • Contracts allowing changes
  • Changing specific terms
  • Changes not permitted by the contract: obtaining consent
  • Changes not permitted by the contract: implied agreement to the change
  • Imposing the change unilaterally: dismissal and re-engagement
  • Imposing the change unilaterally: factors affecting fairness
  • Effecting changes not permitted by the contract: typical process
  • Options for employees facing imposed changes
  • Dealing with unsigned new contracts
  • Consultation obligations
  • Written statement of changes
  • Other issues

It is highly likely that an employer will, at some time during the employment relationship, wish to change the terms and conditions on which any particular employee or group of employees is engaged. This need may arise due to matters such as: • annual pay reviews • promotion of the employee • business reorganisation • a desire to harmonise disparate terms and conditions of employment which have arisen over time across a business, or to overhaul standard contracts generally The employee may also wish to seek changes to the employment contract, for example by making a flexible working request or asking to move to part-time working. This note does not examine these issues (see instead Practice Notes: Flexible working and Part-time workers). This note also does not deal with changes to terms of employment in the context of a TUPE transfer. See instead Practice Note: TUPE—variation of contract terms. Contractual principles An employment or worker contract may, like any other contract, be amended at any time either: • in accordance with the terms of the contract itself • with the agreement of all the parties to the contract (see Changes not permitted by the contract: obtaining consent below) Employment and worker contracts are not an exception to this rule, although the case law in this area has demonstrated a willingness by the courts to protect employees from employers who may seek to abuse their stronger bargaining position by seeking to impose changes