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Making changes to contracts without consent

Posted on 26th March 2010
Case law

The EAT ruled that Asda, which relied upon a term within the contract of employment, may make changes to the contracts without consent.

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Asda v Bateman

Background

As a general rule, any change to a contract of employment should be agreed with each employee. In this case Asda had consulted with its staff and many had agreed to the change. A proportion did not. Relying on a term permitting Asda to make changes without agreement, the change was introduced for those who did not agree. The EAT held that the change was enforceable. 

In practice

Whilst a welcome decision for employers, the decision is not foolproof. Employers wishing to make changes should always proceed with caution. They must firstly ensure any clause covers the variation they wish to make. It is also wise to give, at the very least, a period of notice before the change is made to minimise the risk of claims that the employer has breached the implied term of trust and confidence.

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