What Is a Flexibility Clause in Employment Contracts

The general rule of any contract is that a change in the conditions can only be effective if it is agreed by both parties, and this is always the case with employment contracts. However, in Bateman v. Asda (which was discussed in our previous article here), the EAT concluded that Asda could rely on a flexibility clause in its employee handbook as a basis for introducing contractual changes. This case was undoubtedly influenced by the fact that, prior to invoking the clause, Asda had taken a long period of consultation to try to agree on the amendments before imposing them on the clause. It is important to remember that if you try to rely on a flexibility clause, it will be carefully reviewed by the courts and may not be effective, so it is generally best to try to consult and agree on changes first where possible. Like Bateman v. Asda has shown, to successfully invoke such a clause, the wording must be “clear and unambiguous,” which means more than just saying that the terms are subject to change or that employees are informed of any change. Second, check your employment contract to see if there is a period of general change. This is a clause that allows employers to change all the terms of your contract without asking you to. A clause is a specific section of a contract that sets out the terms. What should I do if I change a flexibility clause? The starting point of the EAT was that, for a flexibility clause to be effective, it must clearly and unambiguously identify a right of the employer to unilaterally amend the employment contract. This may include, for example, certain phrases such as “The employer reserves the right to use it at any time during your employment…” If you change an employment contract, e.B reduce contractually agreed hours or change working hours, this must be agreed by the employee to be legally valid.

This is not a radical change, but a reminder to employers that flexibility clauses must be carefully drafted. To maximize your chances of successfully relying on a flexibility clause, consider the following: There are three ways your employer can make changes to your employment contract: If there is a flexibility or variation clause in your contract, it does not mean that you cannot contest the changes to your contract that your employer wants to make. If an employer goes too far in the changes they make, it can be a breach of trust and in fact violate the contract you have with them. It is important that you ensure employees` consent to changes in working conditions. Example An employer could not use a flexibility clause to insist that an employee move to another country to work with 1 week`s notice. The workers asked the Labour Court to declare that their working conditions remained unchanged and contained the original provisions on privileged leave and sick pay. However, the Labour Court ruled in favour of the Court of Auditors. Clauses in employment contracts help define an agreement between an employee and an employer.

They cover everything from the possibility of wage increases to the conditions of early dismissal. If an employment contract states that you can be expected to perform other “reasonable” tasks that are required of you in addition to those associated with your main duties, this is called a “flexibility clause”. Competent advice can help decide on contractual clauses for employees. For example, some may benefit from a ban on exclusivity clauses. These usually include clauses that restrict what an employee can or cannot do even after leaving the company. Like working for a direct competitor. The obligation of employers to maintain their relationship of trust with employees means that, regardless of the contractual position, consultations with employees should take place prior to unilateral changes to the contract. In this case, the Bulgarian Court of Auditors consulted the workers` union and took measures to reduce the impact of the changes. However, this was not enough to compensate for the lack of an adequate flexibility clause. First, check your contract. Consider the extent to which your job title and responsibilities are defined in your contract and in each job description.

The exact wording will be important in deciding whether the amendment is admissible. Is there a flexibility clause? Can your employer change your job title and responsibilities? Read our expert perspective on flexibility clauses and variation conditions in employment contracts. We are often asked about the employment contracts section which states that you may be asked to perform tasks deemed appropriate in addition to your role. People ask questions like “What is it?”, “What does it mean?” and “Can my employer change jobs?” If the employee ends up performing a significant number of additional tasks that are not listed in their contract, they may try to file a complaint against your company. This can result in the case being sued in an employment court, so you should be aware of what is expected if you change an employee`s contractual responsibilities. The case highlights the need to be cautious when trying to rely on supposedly broad flexibility clauses to make unilateral changes to workers` working conditions without their consent. Clear and unambiguous language is necessary to give an employer flexibility to make changes, and in most cases, discretion must be explicitly stated to cover the area the employer wishes to change. For this reason, when drawing up employment contracts, explicit reference should be made to the conditions under which flexibility may be required, such as . B an employee`s place of work. A general right of the employer to unilaterally make changes to a term of the contract is unlikely to work. A recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (Norman & Others v National Audit Office [2014] UKEAT 0276/14/1512) highlighted the need for employers to ensure that “flexibility clauses” are clearly formulated and have contractual effect in order to be effective. .