15 Sep 2020

The Furlough-down: Changing an employee's terms & conditions

The Furlough-down: Changing an employee's terms & conditions

Any fundamental changes to an employee’s contract of employment such as changing pay or hours should be obtained by agreement with the employee, as the safest option.

We get asked about this, and other Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme matters, a lot! So, we have collated a number of frequently asked questions that may be of some relevance to you and your business.

We've broken them down into five topics, simply click the links below to read each article:

  1. An update on furlough and the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme 
  2. Flexible furlough - what is it and how to use it 
  3. Exiting furlough and unfurloughing staff
  4. Making redundancies in a covid world 
  5. Changing staff terms and conditions (THIS ARTICLE)

Can I change terms relating to my employees’ salary and/or hours?

Yes, but normal employment law principles apply.

Any fundamental changes to an employee’s contract of employment such as changing pay or hours should be obtained by agreement with the employee, as the safest option. If changing terms and conditions for 20 of more employees, there will likely be an additional requirement to collectively consult.

If you cannot get agreement from the employee, you may seek to terminate the existing contract and re-engage on the new terms, but this could risk an unfair dismissal claim depending on the circumstances. Simply imposing the new terms on the employee without their consent could risk claims of constructive/unfair dismissal, breach of contract and/or unlawful deduction of wages.

Given the risk of potential claims, if agreement is not possible, you should carry out a consultation process with your employees (especially if they have more than 2 years’ service). Ultimately it is possible to fairly dismiss someone for failing to agree to a change in contractual terms as long as there is a sound business reason for the change and a fair process was followed. Advice should always be sought to ensure that no unfair dismissal claim arises and is successful. Also, in some circumstances such a dismissal entitle the employee to a redundancy payment, if they meet the definition of redundancy.

Employment Law experts

Aberdein Considine’s national employment law teams assists both individuals and businesses with employment legal matters.

Click here to get in touch or get in touch with the team directly using the links below:

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Aberdein Considine is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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