Usually, the employer and employee both need to agree to any contract changes. But an employee can insist on a change if they have a legal right to it.
Must get an employee’s agreement if they want to make changes to their contract.
You may also want to talk with workers, asking them about their future plans. With older employees this can include talking about their thoughts on retirement and their options for staying in the job, eg changes to their role, hours or working pattern.
Explain to the employer why they want to make the changes. Employees can insist on a change if it’s covered by a statutory right – eg not working on a Sunday.
Once employers have agreed on changes with their staff, they need to:
If an employer changes terms and conditions that aren’t in the written statement (eg the right to sick leave), they should tell their employees where to find information about the change. This could be in a company handbook, noticeboard or intranet site.
Flexibility clauses are terms in a contract that give employers the right to change some conditions of employment, eg relocation.
Employers can only use flexibility clauses to make reasonable changes.
An employer couldn’t use a flexibility clause to insist on an employee moving to another country to work with 1 week’s notice.
If the name of a business changes or there’s a new employer but no other changes in terms and conditions, the employer doesn’t need to issue a new written statement. They still need to write to their staff about the changes within a month.
Some matters can be changed without the agreement of the employee: examples include non-contractual policies where these have been carefully drafted and where they clearly state that there is no intention for them to be incorporated into the contract such as those detailed in the employee handbook.
However, employers should treat variations of the contractual terms cautiously as some changes may be considered to be a fundamental breach of contract that would allow an employee to resign and bring an employment tribunal claim.
An employer can try putting an express term into the contract which states that a particular term is variable. Whilst such clauses may encourage the employee to assume that the changes are permissible even an express clause will not guarantee that the employer can significantly vary a contractual term.
Employers who do wish to alter the terms of an existing employment contract have three main options: