Changing an Employee’s Contract of Employment and Flexible Working
The world of work has been turned on its head during the pandemic. Furlough and home working have changed the way we think about earning a living and made us re-examine our lifestyles and priorities.
So where do you stand if your employees ask for changes to their employment contract or for a switch to flexible working? And what if you need to make some changes to suit the changing needs of your hair or beauty business?
Don’t panic – our brief guide below will help you navigate the process.
Can I change my employee’s contract?
You can change your employee’s contract if one of the following applies:
There is a clause in the contract that says you can
If the contract allows you to make changes and you and the employee agree it’s a reasonable change then you can go ahead. It’s good practice to give your employee reasonable advance notice.
The employee agrees to the change
If your employee agrees to a change you can go ahead straight away or after an agreed period of time. You must give your employee an amended written statement (which is part of their employment contract) within one month of the change taking place.
You end the contract and re-employ your team member
You may be able to change the terms of an employee’s contract by ending their current one and re-employing them under a new contract.
This is a more complex area of employment law and you should take advice before going ahead.
Top tip: You don’t need to change an employee’s contract when their wages changes (for example as the National Minimum Wage increases), you just need to write to them to let them know their new rates of pay .
Employment law can be complicated. If you are unsure about the steps you are taking, always get specialist legal advice first. Members: If you’re considering this option then call or email for further information and advice for free from our industry experts.
What is flexible working?
Here are a few examples of flexible working:
- Working fewer hours.
- Working different hours.
- Working different days each week.
- Working the same number of hours over fewer days (compressed hours).
Dealing with requests
An employee must have 26 weeks’ continuous employment before they can make a request for flexible working, and they can only make one request per year. (You can still consider requests from staff who don’t meet these requirements if you wish.)
The law says you must properly consider flexible working requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.
You do have the right to refuse a request, but this must be on business grounds. For example, to stay profitable your business needs a certain number of employees working a minimum amount of hours each day.
Members: Log in here for free employment contracts, policy documents, fact sheets and videos - instantly available when you need them.
Top tip: Flexible working rules are different in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Members can get more information about this for free from our business experts.
What to consider
There are a number of issues to carefully consider when dealing with a flexible working request, including:
- The impact on your business.
- How your other employees will be affected.
- The effect on your clients.
Accepting a change to flexible working will permanently alter your employee’s contract, so always think things through very carefully before going ahead.
If, for business reasons, you cannot agree to your employee’s request, try to negotiate an alternative solution. After all, you don’t want to lose valuable members of staff.
Top tip: Employees do not have a legal right to appeal against a refusal, but it is good practice to allow this as it shows you are dealing with the application in a ‘reasonable manner’ as required by the law.
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