Changing terms and conditions of employment

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

  • Changing terms and conditions of employment
  • Contractual principles
  • Status of the individuals affected by the change
  • Ascertaining the contractual terms
  • Handbooks and workplace policies
  • Other relevant documentation
  • Contractual and non-contractual terms
  • Contracts allowing changes
  • Flexibility within existing terms
  • Flexibility clauses
  • More...

Changing terms and conditions of employment

This Practice Note sets out the legal and practical considerations which arise when changing an employee's terms and conditions of employment.

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:

  1. annual pay reviews

  2. promotion of the employee

  3. business reorganisation

  4. a desire to harmonise disparate terms and conditions of employment which have arisen over time across a business, or to overhaul standard contracts generally

  5. the introduction of hybrid working arrangements (see Practice Note: Hybrid working)

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 Practice Note does not examine these issues (see instead Practice Notes: Flexible working and Part-time workers).

This Practice Note also does not deal with changes to terms of employment in the context of a TUPE transfer, to which different legal principles apply. See instead Practice Note: TUPE—variation of contract terms.

Contractual principles

An employment contract or worker contract may, like any other contract, be amended at any time either:

  1. in accordance with the terms of the contract itself

  2. with the agreement of all the parties to the contract (see

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