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Varying Terms and Conditions

This employment guide sets out the process you must follow if you need to change the employment terms and conditions of your staff.


As your business grows and develops – or if you hit bad times – you may need to reorganise things. This may involve seeking your employees’ consent to changes in their working practices.

This might include asking them to change their working patterns, take on additional responsibilities or in some cases accept a reduction in their pay.

Making changes

With the exception of certain statutory minimum terms, any term of an employment contract can be changed if the employee agrees to such changes.

Any changes to an employment contract must be confirmed to the employee within one month of the date of change.

So what should you do if you want to vary your employees’ terms and conditions?

You should arrange to meet with your employees and set out:

  • The reasons for the proposed change to their terms and conditions. You need to set out in detail the ‘business case’ for such changes.
  • If there are going to be any changes to pay or benefits, you should be able to clearly demonstrate the financial implications to the business if you are unable to make these changes.
  • You should have an open, fair and meaningful discussion with employees over any proposed changes.
  • The discussions should be fully documented with any employee feedback or responses recorded in the document.

If your employees agree to the changes that you have asked for then you need to send them a letter setting out the changes. We recommend that you arrange for your employees to sign the letter as evidence of their acceptance of the changes. This must be done within one month of the date the changes take effect.

If you are unable to reach agreement with your staff on your proposed changes to their terms and conditions you may still be able to make the changes if you feel they are essential.

However, this is fraught with legal risk. If mismanaged it can result in breach of contract, unfair or constructive dismissal claims. It is essential that you seek professional and expert advice.

Getting it right

HR:4UK can advise you step-by-step of the process that you will need to follow  to implement any proposed changes and to minimise the risk of any potential legal claims from your employees.

For further help and advice, speak to one of our advisors by calling 01455 444222 or complete our online enquiry click here and an advisor will contact you shortly.