Can your employer change the terms of your contract without your agreement?

ASDA has recently been in the news after they issued its employees with an ultimatum to either accept new terms and conditions of employment or risk losing their jobs. Whilst ASDA have been in discussions with its employees and Union representatives for months in their attempts to have employees sign up to the new terms, many employees are not agreeable to the changes and consider the changes to be unfair. The changes increase the hourly rate but take away paid breaks and make working bank holidays compulsory.   

In general, an employer cannot change a contract without the employee’s agreement. If an employer changes your employment contract without your consent, you may have the right to bring legal action against that employer. If, however, there is a sound business reason for the change, and the employer has consulted its employees, then you may find it a difficult case to win.

Your contract may include a flexibility clause but such a clause cannot be used to bring in completely unreasonable changes.  There is an implied term of ‘mutual trust and confidence’ in all contracts that requires the employer not to act completely unreasonably and so, if unreasonable changes are made under a flexibility clause, these changes can be challenged.

If you require advice on any employment related matter, please contact our Employment Department on 02890329801.