During difficult economic times an employer may want his staff to take a pay cut or to work less hours. Alternatively, he may simply require changes to terms and conditions to make the business more efficient.
Can this be done? If so what rights does the employee have and how should the employer go about making such changes?
The law will often allow employers to dismiss an employee for refusing to agree to changes in terms and conditions when the employer has a sound, business reason for wishing to make the changes. However, that does not leave the employee without rights and it does not release the employer from any responsibility at all.
The employer will be expected to carry out a fair process of consultation. This will entail genuinely considering the interests of the employee. Furthermore the mere threat to change terms and conditions of employment may sometimes be regarded as what is known as an anticipatory fundamental breach of contract. If so the employee may be entitled to resign and claim constructive dismissal.
Thus making or proposing to make changes to terms and conditions can often prove something of a minefield and careful and professional advice is often required.