Changes to terms and conditions of employment: your rights outlines how you might deal with changes to your terms and conditions of employment.

employment rights


Your terms and conditions should be outlined in your contract. If you do not have a written contract – and legally all employees are entitled to ask for one – they are the terms agreed verbally – for instance, the hours, place, job responsibilities, any dress code, holiday and sick day entitlement and wages.

From April 2020 workers and employees will have a day one right to a written contract.

Changes to your employment contract

If your employer is seeking to change your contractual hours of work and there is no clause in your contract that entitles them to do so they should first try to seek your agreement to the proposed changes.

Failing that, they need to enter into a period of consultation with you about the proposed changes during which you can raise your concerns about why such a change would be difficult for you.

Often an employer will want to reach an agreement with the employee and will need to seriously consider the points you put forward.

After a period of consultation if you still do not agree to the changes to your terms and conditions your employer can dismiss you and re-engage you, but offer to re-employ you straight away on the new terms and conditions i.e. with the new working hours.

Most employers will want to avoid a situation where they have to carry out a dismissal and re-engagement process because, if challenged, they will have to demonstrate they acted reasonably in dismissing you because of this.

This is not to say that they will not be able to show that they acted reasonably, particularly if there is a strong business need for the change to terms and conditions, and the majority of employees who the change affects have accepted the change.

Your employer cannot, however, unilaterally impose a change of terms and conditions of employment on you without your agreement and if there is no strong business reason, an employee can sue an employer who dismisses them for refusing to comply for unfair dismissal, if they have worked with the employer for two years, and/or breach of contract.

Negotiation or mediation

If the problem cannot be solved through negotiation or mediation, employees may have the right to refuse to work under the new conditions; say that they’re working any new terms under protest, and are treating the change as a breach of contract; resign and claim constructive dismissal or be able to take a case to an employment tribunal.

Usually, employees must make a claim to a tribunal within three months of ending their employment.

If an employee disagrees with new terms and conditions but doesn’t say or do anything, this may count as agreeing to the changes.

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