Guide

Change an employee's terms of employment

Consulting employees about changes to their terms of employment

Some contracts may contain terms that allow employers to make changes in working conditions. These should be reasonable, for example performing additional tasks to reflect seasonal fluctuations in demand. Do not rely on such terms to make more fundamental changes because your employee may then claim the contract has been breached and may make various legal claims against you.

If you impose changes without agreement, there will be a breach of contract. If the breach is a fundamental one eg a significant change in pay, an employee could resign and regard themselves as having been given no other choice but to do so. If they have more than one year of continuous employment with you, they can claim unfair constructive dismissal in an industrial tribunal. Damages for financial loss, for example, may also be sought in the civil courts if they have under a years' continuous service with you.

If you want to change terms or conditions in a collective agreement with a trade union that you formally recognise, you should always consult with the Trade Union to reach agreement.

Consultation should be detailed and undertaken with a view to reaching agreement and you should fully explain the reasons for any changes.

ICE Regulations

The Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations give employees in companies with 50 or more employees the right to request to be informed and consulted about significant developments in the workplace. If 10 per cent or more of employees (subject to a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 2,500) make a valid request, businesses are required to negotiate a procedure for informing and consulting with employees.

TICE Regulations

The Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees (TICE) Regulations give employees in multinational companies the right to be represented on a European Works Council (EWC).

EWCs are designed to allow employees in different EU member states to be informed and consulted on transnational issues affecting the company. If your business has 1,000 or more employees and at least 150 employees in each of two or more member states, your employees have the right to request an EWC.

See how to inform and consult your employees.

Consultation can take place on a one-to-one basis or in the form of group briefings. Whichever method you choose, you should provide an opportunity for employees to ask questions. Be prepared to answer these questions and ensure employees have the relevant information they need to prepare for the meeting. Always consider an individual's particular circumstances.