Exercise Of Contractual Variation Clause

16 February 2010

Bateman & Others v Asda Stores Ltd EAT – 11/02/2010 EAT held that where a term in a Staff Handbook permitting unilateral amendments to pay and other conditions is incorporated into an employees’ contract, the employer can change provisions relating to pay, bonus, hours etc without express consent – provided that the change is effected in a way which does not breach the implied term of trust and confidence.

9,300 employees transferred voluntarily onto the new pay scheme – the remaining 8,300 were then transferred against their will. Asda justified its imposition of the new pay scheme by reference to provisions in its Staff Handbook. The provisions in that handbook, which provided details of pay and hours, were incorporated into the staff’s contracts of employment.

The handbook stated that Asda “reserved the right to review, revise, amend or replace the contents of this handbook, and introduce new policies from time to time reflecting the changing needs of the business…” The EAT held that Asda was plainly entitled to unilaterally amend all matters contained within the Handbook without the consent of the staff. The appeal was dismissed.