Making changes to your employment contract – advice for employees

Proposing an employment contract change

If you want to propose an employment contract change to your employer, you should consider if it's because:

  • something about your work has already changed through 'custom and practice' – for example, you've regularly been doing work that is different to what was originally agreed
  • you want to change something in your terms and conditions – for example, your pay or working hours

If something about your work has already changed

You 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.

If something has changed that affects anything that must legally be in your written statement, your employer must update it.

For example, if your hourly pay rate has changed, your employer must update your written statement to show the new pay rate.

Find out more about when your employer must put changes in writing

If you want to change your terms and conditions

If you're considering asking for an employment contract change, you should think about:

  • what outcome you want to achieve
  • if a contract change is needed to achieve it

It's important to consider that a change to your contract will usually be permanent. There may be other ways to achieve the outcome you're looking for without changing your contract.

For example, if you need to temporarily change your working hours, you might ask your employer if you can swap shifts with someone during that time, instead of proposing a permanent contract change.

It can be helpful to talk to a trade union or other employee representatives if you're thinking about proposing a contract change. This can help you consider your options and decide what to do.

You might have legal rights that apply when you're asking for certain contract changes. For example:

  • the right to request flexible working
  • the right to 'reasonable adjustments' if you're disabled

Making a flexible working request

By law, you have the right to ask for a contract change through a 'flexible working request' if:

  • you're legally classed as an employee
  • you've been employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks
  • you've not made another flexible working request in the last 12 months

For example, you might want to have more flexibility with your work location or working hours.

Your employer must take certain steps to handle a flexible working request in a reasonable way.

Find out about making a flexible working request

Asking for a reasonable adjustment if you're disabled

If you have a disability, by law your employer must make 'reasonable adjustments' to remove or reduce a disadvantage related to it.

Many types of reasonable adjustment will not need a contract change, but you can ask for a contract change if you think it's needed.

Find out what reasonable adjustments are and how to ask for them

Other types of contract changes

You might want to propose a contract change for other reasons, for example because:

  • you've started a new job in the same organisation
  • you want to change your hours to work part-time
  • you want to ask to work more flexibly but do not have a legal right to make a flexible working request
  • you feel you deserve a pay rise

Check any relevant policies and procedures

You should check your employer's policies and procedures to find out if there's a set process for proposing the type of contract change you’re looking for.

If you're not sure, you should get advice from your line manager or your organisation's human resources (HR) department if there is one.

Telling your employer about your proposed change

It's usually helpful to put in writing to your employer:

  • the change you're asking for
  • the reasons why you're asking for the change
  • when you'd like the change to happen

For example, you might write a letter or send an email.

You should be as clear as possible about what you're asking for and why. This will help your employer to fully consider the proposed change and make an informed decision about it.

How your employer should respond

Your employer should consult with you and any relevant employee representatives, to:

  • listen to your reasons about why a change may be needed
  • make sure they understand the details of the proposed change
  • consider the potential benefits of the change, and any potential issues, for both you and the organisation

If your employer feels it is not possible or appropriate to make your proposed change, they should explain the reasons why. They should talk with you about any other options that could work instead.

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