5 Tips to Changing a Contract of Employment

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


There are varying reasons as to why parties bound by an employment contract would want to modify some terms. An employee, for instance, may desire to get better pay or improved perks. He or she might even want to alter their working hours because of increased domestic responsibilities. An employer, on the other hand, may desire to reorganize his entire organization due to reasons such as rising costs and stringent economic conditions. A contract of employment can only be changed when both parties concerned are in agreement. However, employers must be extra cautious when revising an employment contract. Here are five crucial tips to follow before changing your contract of employment:

Study the new contract carefully
If you are presented with a new contract by your employer, the first step should always be to read it carefully and note down the proposed changes. If the contract was made verbally, request for a ‘statement of written particulars of employment’ from your employer. A legal contract of employment can either be in form of a verbal agreement or a written, signed document. However, both parties should agree on how to change a contract of employment properly.

You don’t have to agree with everything
Contrary to what some individuals think, you’re not obligated to say yes to whatever changes that your employer suggests. There is a certain threshold that each employer must reach. For instance, all staff must be paid above the national minimum wage. If the agreed terms contravene such minimum obligations, the law naturally overrides these terms. If you feel like a certain detail was left out in the proposed document, negotiate your way out with your employer.

Employees should be consulted before implementation
Before implementing any changes to your proposed contract of employment, the employer needs to talk to his/her employees. Making contract changes without prior consent from your employees might warrant a breach of contract in some instances. This would create a bad picture and put you at loggerheads with the law. However, there are some instances that don’t necessitate a formal consent from employees. One example is a pay raise.

Employees can seek clarifications
In cases where an employee doesn’t comprehend certain alterations (or questions the motive behind the proposed changes) it’s recommended that he/she should seek clarification. After all, a legally binding contract has the potential to impact an employee directly. The changes made in a contract of employment should improve the working conditions of employees while at the same time enhancing the efficiency and performance of the company.

Employers can’t simply terminate an existing contract
Some employers are tempted to terminate an existing contract of employment when an accord to change the contract is not reached. In law, this termination comprises of employee dismissal. This means that staff who have been working in a company for more than 2 years have grounds to sue the employer for unfair dismissal. Employers should generally be guided by SOSR (some other substantial reason) before making such drastic dismissals. Better yet, they should consult their lawyers before proceeding with the changes in contracts of employment.

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