Backdating an employment contract

A contract of employment is a legal agreement between the employer and the employee.

Its terms cannot lawfully be changed by the employer without agreement from the employee (either individually or through a recognised trade union).

Where the change involves removing a benefit, an employment tribunal is more likely to think your employer has acted fairly if it has offered something in return for the change, such as financial compensation, and given enough advance notice before the change takes effect so that employees can plan ahead.

Your employer should not breach equality laws when changing contract terms.

Any action would need to be taken very quickly, after taking proper legal advice.

In practice, a collective approach to this sort of dispute is often best, either via a group tribunal claim supported by your trade union, through protest and threatened industrial action, or by a combination of different approaches.

Sometimes, a change is so fundamental that it goes to the heart of the contract.

Your employer owes an implied contractual duty to explain clearly the effect of any change, for example a change to wages or working hours.

Consulting in advance can help your employer map out who is most likely to be negatively affected by the planned change, and take steps to reduce this negative effect.

An employee can decide to accept a change, and many terms of the contract are, of course, varied from time to time by mutual consent, for example a pay increase Your employer must behave reasonably when making changes to your contract terms, and must not leave an employee unable to perform the contract – for example, requiring an employee to relocate at extremely short notice with no payment of expenses.

Alternatively, is there a way of legally trying to achieve the required objective?

If the document is putting in place something which “should have been done” but hasn’t been, usually for tax or similar reasons, then the position is straightforward.

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