Guide

The employment contract

How to change an existing contract of employment

If you want to change an employee's terms and conditions of employment, you will need to get their agreement first. Otherwise, the employee may be entitled to sue for breach of contract, or resign and claim constructive dismissal.

Changes to the written statement

You must tell the employee in writing about any changes to the written statement no later than one month after you have made the change. A change to the statement will still require the employee's agreement.

If the change results from the employee being required to work outside the UK for more than a month, and they will be leaving within a month of the change, you should tell them in writing before they leave.

In most cases, the notification must contain explicit particulars of the change.

However, you may tell the employee about changes to certain particulars such as those listed below by referring to some other document which the employee has reasonable access to:

  • entitlement to sick leave, including any entitlement to sick pay
  • pensions and pension schemes
  • disciplinary rules and disciplinary or dismissal procedures
  • any further steps which follow from making an application under the employer's disciplinary, dismissal or grievance procedures

Changes to employment contracts via collective agreements

The terms of a collective agreement are sometimes incorporated into employees' employment contracts.

If - following agreement with the employees' representatives - you change some of these terms, you should inform the employees concerned - ideally in writing.

However, if the changes affect the terms of the written statement, you must inform the employees individually in writing - and must do this within one month of the changes coming into effect.

What information is an employee entitled to receive when there is a change of employer?

When there is a change of employer, a new and full written statement of employment particulars must normally be given to employees within two months.

However, there are some exceptions. You don't need to give a new statement if the name of the business changes without any change in the employer's identity, or if the identity changes in circumstances where the employee can continue their employment, as long as there is no other change in terms and conditions.

However, you must give individual written notification of the change at the earliest opportunity, and at least within one month of when it occurs.

If the change of employer is a result of a business transfer, the terms and conditions of the transferring employees may not usually be changed by the new employer. For more information on employees' rights during and after business transfers, see responsibilities to employees if you buy or sell a business.