6.2 Changing terms

If changes are made to the section 1 statement, the employer must issue a revised statement within a month of the change.

If the employer wants to vary the terms of a contract however, this will generally require the consent of the employee and an element of “consideration”, usually in the form of pay or other benefits. A contract will often give the employer the right to make changes, although the more drastic the change, the more likely it is that the employer will need to consult the affected employee(s) and give more notice of the change.

If the employee refuses to give their consent to the proposed change, an employer may either implement the change unilaterally or dismiss the employee and re-engage them on the revised terms and conditions. Both these risk claims from the employee ­ in the former scenario the employee may resign and claim breach of contract and constructive unfair dismissal, while in the latter they may claim for unfair dismissal and (if the change is to pay) unlawful deductions from wages. There are also potential issues relating to collective consultation that need to be considered.

Some of the more common areas to be covered in an employment contract are considered below. Some of these areas are applicable to workers as well as employees, and the terminology used below indicates where this is.

Any term in the contract will be generally interpreted with reference to what is reasonable. Terms may be contractually binding, and therefore must be complied with, or discretionary (e.g. the provision of benefits and bonus may be in the employer’s discretion), but even where something is discretionary, that discretion must not be exercised capriciously, irrationally or perversely.