Making Changes to Employment Contracts
We are often asked about whether changes can be made to an employee’s contract of employment. Often employers find that the terms and conditions offered to an employee at the start of their employment are no longer appropriate to the changing needs of the school environment. Unilateral changes to terms and conditions are unlawful, they may lead to claims for breach of contract, constructive dismissal or discrimination claims. However with a valid and robust school business case employers can enter into consultation with their employees to make changes to their terms and conditions. As a school you should ask yourselves if the change is essential for the survival/successful running of the school. If not then chances are you will find it difficult to justify making the changes. It will also depend on the type of school and the nature of the change. Remember schools who are bound by the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document and the Conditions of Service for School Teachers in England and Wales, along with any national agreements for their support staff will not be able to make changes to the contracts of employees if they contravene statutory guidance. It is also important to note that schools that have recently undergone Academy conversion are likely to still be bound by such guidance and agreements. If taking the above into account you feel that you still have a robust school business case for making changes, you are advised to do the following:
- Set out a clear business case for the changes to include what the current terms are, how you would like to change them and the specific issues they will address.
- Where collective agreements are in place with trade unions, ensure they are involved at this stage before you begin discussions with staff
- You will need to fully consult with all affected staff and issue the relevant notice as per the contracts of employment prior to any changes taking effect.
- Set out a timeline as to when you wish the changes to come into effect taking into account the above notice and consultation requirements