Making changes to your employment contract – advice for employees

When you or your employer might propose contract changes

A contract between an employer and an employee or worker is a legally binding agreement. 

The terms and conditions of your contract can be agreed:

  • in writing
  • verbally, for example during a conversation when you're offered your job

You or your employer can propose changes to your terms and conditions.

Any changes must be agreed by both you and your employer.

In some circumstances, your employer may have an agreement with a trade union which allows the union to negotiate and agree certain contract changes on your behalf.

Where to find your terms and conditions 

All employees and workers have a legal right to a 'written statement of employment particulars'. This is a written document summarising the main terms and conditions of your employment.

You have a legal right to a written statement even if your contract is agreed verbally.

A written statement can be given to you:

  • in a separate document
  • as part of a written employment contract, if you have one

A written employment contract usually includes:

  • details legally required in your written statement
  • details about other terms and conditions
  • information about the organisation's policies and procedures

Some terms and conditions might be in other places too, for example:

  • on your organisation's intranet
  • in a staff handbook
  • in a 'key information document' if you're an agency worker

These resources should clearly indicate if any sections form part of your contractual terms and conditions.

Find out more about:

Ways employment contract changes can be agreed

Changes to employment contracts can be agreed in different ways, including when:

  • a change is proposed by either you or your employer, which you then discuss and agree with your employer
  • your employer has a 'collective agreement' with a trade union and the union agrees changes to your terms and conditions on your behalf
  • you agreed to a term in your contract that allows your employer to make changes to certain terms of your employment in some circumstances – sometimes known as a 'flexibility clause' or 'variation clause'
  • a change happens through 'custom and practice' – your terms and conditions change over time and everyone's agreement can be implied

When your employer might propose contract changes

Examples of when your employer may need to consider employment contract changes include:

  • to make sure your contract is up to date with new laws or regulations
  • to better reflect your job role, if it has changed
  • to introduce or change terms and conditions for staff, for example contractual redundancy pay, enhanced maternity or paternity leave, or details of a pension scheme
  • to reflect changes to your organisation, for example if it's considering moving to a different location or changing who people report to
  • to help your organisation better adapt to changing customer needs
  • economic reasons, for example if your organisation is considering a restructure or other changes to stay competitive in a changing market

If your employer is considering changes that may affect your contract, they must:

  • explain the change they're considering and the reasons why
  • consult with you – this means they must ask for and genuinely consider your views
  • consult with trade union or other employee representatives, in some circumstances

Find out more about what should happen if your employer proposes changes to your employment contract

If you've transferred to a new employer under TUPE

TUPE regulations protect your rights when you transfer to a new employer. TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment).

There are important additional things to consider if your employer is proposing changes to your contract after a TUPE transfer.

Find out more about changing your employment contract after a TUPE transfer

When you might propose contract changes

In some circumstances, you might want to propose an employment contract change to your employer. For example, if:

  • your job role has changed since you started working for your employer
  • you want to ask for improved terms and conditions, such as a pay rise or extra holiday
  • you want to make a flexible working request

Your employer does not have to agree to every change you propose, but they should always listen to you and consider your proposal.

Find out more about proposing changes to your employment contract

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