Watch our short video on contract variation for more detail
Be careful of implied terms
Always consult with your employees
The cost of getting it wrong can be huge
One of the things we get asked a lot is about changing someone’s contract of employment. We call that a contract variation, and there’s three things you need to consider when looking at that.
- Terms aren’t always just what’s written down in the contract of employment, so if you’ve paid somebody a bonus for the last five years, but it doesn’t say so in the contract, that becomes implied as is actually a term.
- You cannot just change somebody’s contract. There needs to be a period of consultation where you talk to them about why you want to change it, give them the opportunity to raise their concerns, and try to mitigate those concerns.
- If you don’t do contract variation right, there’s a massive risk: constructive dismissal, if you dismiss and reengage you’ve got unfair dismissal – all sorts of things can go wrong if you don’t do it properly. So please, please, please involve your employees and make sure you consult with them.
There may be many reasons why you might want to change or vary your employee contracts at the moment – it may be that you need to bring people back to work on a phased return or part time hours; it may be that your workload has changed and to avoid redundancy you are reducing hours across the board; or it may be that employee have enjoyed working from home and have put in a flexible working request to change their hours.
Whatever the reason it is crucial that you follow the correct procedure and seek professional advice before taking action, as we’ve stated above there is a huge risk in getting a contract variation wrong and we anticipate there will be a lot of claims from disgruntled employees in the coming months.
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Why not check out our other blog on the same topic Contract of Employment – What Should It Contain?
You can also watch a range of other videos on our YouTube channel