Agreeing contract changes
Open discussion with employees about contract changes helps:
- employers and employees work together to agree changes
- prevent potential disagreements or legal disputes
If an employer needs to change a contract the first step is to talk with employees (or employee representatives like a trade union).
Before consulting employees, it’s a good idea for employers to think about:
- why they need to make a change
- what they need to achieve by making a change
Consultation should be a two-way process where ideas are shared and worked on together.
The employer should:
- explain the reason behind making the change
- invite employees to talk about their concerns and suggest ideas for alternatives
- listen to employees’ concerns and consider their ideas
- do everything they can to resolve any employee concerns
The employee should:
- consider the proposed change and reason for the change
- share their views, concerns and any ideas for alternatives with the employer
- continue to talk to the employer about any concerns
- make sure they have tried all options to reach an agreement
Consulting trade unions
Consulting with trade unions or employee representatives openly and honestly can help to:
- have meaningful discussions with employees
- get a better understanding of employee concerns
Sometimes there is also a legal obligation to consult trade unions.
Consider all alternatives
Considering all options and asking employees for ideas can help agree a change. Employees might suggest something the employer had not thought of.
Depending on the proposed change, employers might consider:
- asking for volunteers (if the change might suit some employees more than others)
- offering incentives to employees
- taking on some of the employees’ ideas
Incentives do not have to be pay-related, for example, an incentive could be:
- extra leave or time off
- help with travel costs for a time if employees will have to travel further to get to work
If there has been a business transfer (TUPE)
Employers should be careful if changing a contract of employment when there’s been a business transfer (TUPE). When an employee transfers there are some special protections and rules about the terms and conditions in their contract. Employers should get legal advice before making a change in these circumstances.
Find out more in the Acas guide on TUPE.