Changing an employment contract

Employees: if you do not agree to changes

If you have concerns about contract changes proposed by your employer, it is best to start by speaking to them. 

It can help to: 

  • explain how the proposed changes will affect you 
  • listen to your employer’s reasons for proposing the change 
  • take part in your employer's consultation, if they offer it
  • think about any compromises you are willing to make  
  • talk to your trade union or employee representative if you have one 
  • think about making a formal complaint ('raising a grievance')  

Try to reach a compromise 

If you do not agree with proposed changes, it’s usually best to keep talking to your employer and see if you can find an arrangement that suits you both.

Think about:  

  • the employer’s reason for the proposed changes 
  • the effect of the changes on you 
  • any other options that you could look at 
  • what could happen if you cannot reach an agreement

The more you discuss the changes with your employer, the more likely you are to reach an agreement. 

Making a formal complaint 

If you feel you want to take things further, you can make a formal complaint to your employer (‘raising a grievance’).

This can be a useful way to keep talking with your employer about the changes.

If you make a formal complaint it can help to:

  • raise your concerns about the changes
  • explain how the changes will affect you
  • share your ideas for alternatives
  • say what you are willing to compromise on

Make sure you follow your employer’s grievance policy, or if your employer does not have a policy follow the Acas Code of Practice on discipline and grievance.

Working under protest

If a change is imposed that you do not agree to, you can choose to stay and temporarily work to the new terms and conditions ‘under protest’. 

You should only work under protest for a short time so you can formally raise your concerns with your employer, or take legal action. The longer you work under protest, the higher the risk that you could be seen as accepting the change.

It is important you make it clear to the employer you are working under protest (usually in writing on a routine basis, for example every time you get paid). If you do not tell your employer your objections and start to work under the new terms and conditions, they could see this as you accepting the change. 

Options for making a legal claim

If you feel your employer has broken the terms and conditions of your employment contract or dismissed you unfairly, you might be able to make a legal claim.

If you have been with your employer for less than 2 years, there are fewer options for making a claim.

You can speak to an Acas helpline adviser who will explain possible next steps and the risks and benefits of each. 

Acas advisers cannot tell you what to do or give legal advice. You should seek legal advice before you make a claim.

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