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Varying contracts: overview

Nicola Doran of Osborne Clarke begins a series of articles on varying contracts of employment by looking at employers' legal position if they vary employees' contracts and the procedure that they must follow if they wish to avoid being in breach of contract. 

Introduction

Terms and conditions of employment are often subject to change, perhaps because of an employee's career progression or the need for employers to make changes to comply with developments in legal requirements. 

Changes that are advantageous to employees, such as a pay increase resulting from an annual pay review or a promotion, are straightforward for employers to implement, with dissent from employees unlikely. However, economic pressures may require employers to vary contracts to save costs and avoid having to make redundancies. It is much more difficult to obtain employees' consent to changes to their contracts that are detrimental.