When starting a new job or changing roles, consult our employment team to ensure that there are no surprises in your new contract.
As a general rule, a contract may only be amended in accordance with its terms or with the agreement of all parties. Employment contracts are no exception to this rule and the law does not allow employers to use their greater bargaining position to impose contractual variations on employees without consent.
An employee’s terms and conditions of employment are bound to change in a number of ways during the course of their employment. However, sometimes employers wish to make changes to their employees’ contracts of employment to which employees are not prepared to consent (i.e. a decrease in salary or the introduction of post-termination restrictions).
Where an employer is unable to obtain its employees’ consent to the proposed changes it has three principal options:
- dismiss those who refuse to agree to the changes
- terminate the existing contracts of employment and offer re-engagement on new terms;
- unilaterally impose the changes and leave it to the employees to decide how to respond.
If your terms and conditions have been changed without your consent in one of the above ways, you may have claims against your employer for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal and/or breach of contract and you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Remuneration reviews and annual pay increases are likely to constitute changes to the contract of employment which will normally take place by mutual consent, but what if your employer fails to increase your salary one year, despite increasing it by the same amount year on year for several years?
In the majority of cases, employees will not have an express contractual right to receive a remuneration or salary review as these are often expressly stated to take place at the employer’s absolute discretion. However, in some cases, it is possible to argue that a contractual right to a salary increase has been inferred by operation of custom and practice, so your employer’s failure to review your salary may amount to a breach of contract.
Let us help
If you think your employer is proposing changes to your terms and conditions in breach of contract (whether express or implied), please contact us. We have a team of specialist employment law solicitors who can advise you on your next steps and ensure that you have the best chance of resolving matters amicably with your employer from the earliest available opportunity.