Can my Employer Change my Contract Without my Consent?

If your employer wants to make changes to your employment contract such as your pay, your hours, work location or holidays, it can be a worrying time. You may be wondering if your employer can change you contract without your consent.

a work contract being signed

Employees have rights during contract negotiations, and our guide will help you understand them.

How Should Contract Changes Be Agreed?

A contract of employment can only be changed according to its terms, or with the agreement of both parties.

When an employer wants to make changes to a contract, it’s called a “variation of contract”.

You must be given notice of any proposed changes by your employer. This gives you chance to negotiate with them, and lodge any objections.

The first step you need to take when faced with proposed change is to ensure you understand your work contract. If you do not have a copy of your contract, ask your employer.

Contract Variation Clauses

Your contract may contain a variation clause. This type of clause in a contract of employment can allow your employer to make changes.

However, the presence of a variation clause does not give an employer the ability to make whatever changes they would like. This will depend upon the wording of the clause. The employer must also give you notice that they wish to use a variation clause to change your contract.

Any contract changes that are made should be reasonable, and cannot be introduced without notice.

Examples of Legitimate Contract Variation Clauses

  • A mobility clause – this might allow your employer to require you to work at another site within a certain geographic area. For example, if you work for a restaurant chain that has two restaurants within the same city, you may be asked to work at the other site.
  • A flexibility clause – this will usually allow your employer to change your duties at work. The clause usually lists your main duties and then says ‘plus anything else reasonably asked of you’. For example, a bartender’s usual duties might be to serve drinks. However if the bar is short staffed, they may be asked to help clear plates from meal service into the kitchen.

Always remember, that just because a clause is written into the employment contract you’ve signed doesn’t mean it is legal. A written agreement in a contract must comply with employment law, and can’t be used to remove any of your statutory rights.

Disagreeing with Employment Contract Changes

If you disagree with changes proposed to your employment contract, it is really important that you communicate that clearly. If you do not and continue to work varied terms (e.g. work a changed time shift), then this could be seen as implied acceptance of the changes.

In order to clearly communicate disagreement to any changes, we recommend formally writing to your employer letting them know you object.

Should the matter later proceed to an Employment Tribunal, this letter will be treated as a written grievance.

You cannot be fired for disagreeing changes to your employment contract. If your employer did so, you would have a valid claim against them for unfair dismissal. This would be valid providing that you have worked for that employer for a minimum period of two continuous years.

Template Letter Objecting to Contract Changes


This is to inform you of my position in relation to the proposed changes to my employment contract.

Your have advised that you wish to make the following changes to my employment:

(E.g.) You wish to change my usual working hours from 6pm-10pm to 4pm-8pm

I object to these proposed change(s) for the following reasons:

(E.g.) I am unable to start work at 4pm at I have to pick up my son from school at 3:50pm and take him to my parents, who look after him in the evening. The school is 30 minutes drive away and I have no one else who can pick him up. My parents do not drive.

[If you have any, it may help to resolve the situation to suggest a compromise.]

I understand that recent changes in the area mean that the business has been busier earlier and so you need staff to work from an earlier time. I’m unable to start work at 4pm, but if it would assist, I would be willing to change my working hours to work from 5pm to 9pm.

I hope that we can resolve this situation amicably and request a meeting at a mutually convenient time to discuss the matter further. I would want [name of another employee] to attend the meeting.

Yours sincerely,

If You Can’t Reach Agreement

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your employer, you may need to take more formal steps. ACAS can help you enter early conciliation with your employer, and direct your progress to a tribunal claim if you are still unable to reach agreement.

  1. You have 3 months minus 1 day – from the date of the issue arising to issue a claim at the Employment Tribunal. It is therefore really important that you deal with any issue promptly rather than just hoping it will go away
  2. You must notify ACAS – before you can take a matter to the Employment Tribunal. This can be by phone or online form
  3. An ACAS officer will then call you within 2 working days to discuss the matter. You can refer them to any legal advisor if you prefer
  4. ACAS will offer you their Early Conciliation Service. Essentially they try to assist with communication between the parties to try to help you and your employer reach an agreement. The idea is that this is both cheaper and a lot quicker than going to the Employment Tribunal.
  5. If you do not wish to participate in conciliation you do not have to do so. Alternatively if you try it and don’t reach an agreement, you can still go to the Tribunal.
  6. You need a reference number from ACAS to put on your Tribunal claim form (ET1 form). If you do not include an ACAS reference number, the Court will not hear your claim.

If you need to refer the matter to the Employment Tribunal, you can seek free and independent help from your Trade Union or local Citizen Advice Bureau.

Non Contractual Changes

It is important to remember that not all changes to your employment contract are contractual. For example an employer can often change the criteria for giving out discretionary bonus without changing your contractual terms.

If you are unhappy with any proposed change however, speak to your employer. Explaining your concerns, may mean that you can reach a compromise.

See Also: Can my employer reduce my hours without my consent?

Contract Change Case Studies

Below we’ve answered two quite typical questions from readers worried about being dismissed if they don’t agree to contract changes they are unhappy with.

The contract change case studies followed by a guide on how to disagree with changes, together with a letter template.

Case Study 1. Contract Being Changed to Annualised Hours

I have worked for the last 12 years for the same Company having gone to a 4 day working week approximately 6 years ago doing a 28hr week. The Company now wants to change to Annualised Hours Contracts. I will still be working 4 days a week but possibly doing 9.5hrs a day with a half hour break so doing possibly 38hrs over 4 days then during the winter months going to a possible 3 day week.

I do not agree with this change of contract and do not want to work these hours. Can the Company dismiss me if I refuse to sign a new contract as they seem to be inferring. What are my rights and what can I do please.


If the pattern of 4 days / 28 hours per week is expressly written in your employment contract, then this is a contractual term. It can only be altered with your agreement. If your employer dismisses you for disagreeing with proposed changes to a contractual term, then you will likely have a claim against them for unfair dismissal. For more on this, see below “If you can’t reach agreement”.

If the pattern of 4 days / 28 hours per week is not written in your employment contract then you may have more difficulty resisting the changes. Check exactly what is in your contract, as it may have a maximum number of hours. If you are unhappy with the changes, speak to your employer about your concerns. For example if they need staff to work 9.5 hours days, can you work less days?

Case Study 2. Company Says I’ll be dismissed if I Don’t Agree to Changes

I have been invited to my first consultation meeting regarding a change to our contracts to work 3 fixed bank holidays and move to 5 days instead of 4. Is there anything I can do to object to the bank holiday changes?

I have spoken to the company and they have offered no alternative. The company says this is needed in order to fulfill my role and could lead to my dismissal if I do not accept the changes.


Check what your employment contract says. Does it list your holiday as including bank holidays (eg 24 days plus bank holidays)? If so, you could refuse to work bank holidays, or at least require a day holiday in lieu.

If your employment contract does not require you to work bank holidays then you cannot be dismissed for refusing the change. However bear in mind that if this is now a legitimate requirement for the role, then by refusing you may force your employer to consider making you redundant.

Need any assistance with deciding if a change is contractual or non-contractual? Want help with objecting to a change? You can seek free and independent help from ACAS, your trade union, or local Citizens Advice Bureau.

30 thoughts on “Can my Employer Change my Contract Without my Consent?

  1. Nix says:

    I have worked for the same company for 30yrs i used to work every weekend & 2 late nights a week didnt have a problem with that.Then when i had my two sons i reduced my hours & requested school hours which i now have, now my wrk has told me there changing my shifts to whatever they need me for, ive explained i have no childcare but they said there doing it wether i like it or not ,i feel like there trying to force me out of my job by giving me hours i cant work where i do stand in regards to this is there anything i can do.

  2. Paulina says:

    Hi! My uncle is a bus driver and the depo that he was working at is closing! ‘The big boss’ offered a transfer to a different city which is 16 miles away from his current workplace, however my uncle does not want to transfer for personal reasons. The company ( and by that i mean the ‘big boss’) is saying everything so that my uncle would agree for transfer, he offered him finance support until he moves to the new city and help with buying a car (insurance and petrol not included) but my uncle does not want to move out from the city that he lives in at the moment. He does not want to quit the job because if he will do that he will be left with nothing. What should he do in that situation?

  3. Changes says:

    I have worked for the same company for 16 y ears mainly as a branch manager with a daily commute of 80 plus miles working a 49 hour week, 55 with travelling. I became ill after 10 years of doing this with fibromyalgia, tension neck syndrome and ME which I was told was likely to have been caused by the role I had been doing, time in car and long hours out of the house. I have now been told my role is no longer needed and I am able to work as a different role which is £600 less a month and full time. I am unable to work full time due to now being disabled. Where do I stand?

  4. helbel says:

    I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 22.5 hours. My manager wants to change my days to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and I want to know whether he can arbitrarily do this without my agreement. His argument is business continuity yet in the past I have work on Friday and there has been nothing to do – surely business continuity means utilising the resources when most needed – which is the middle of the week.

  5. Billy says:

    I have worked a day shift pattern , 8 to 430 for over 2 years , my employer is now wanting me to change my shifts to 12hr shifts mon to wed 7.30am to 7.50 pm for 2 weeks and then Thursday to sat 7.30am to 7.50pm on a 2 week rotation, the problem for me is my wife works in the evenings so my hours suit for childcare, I have 2 kids on the autism spectrum so a childcare provider is out of the question, can I be forced to change shift?

  6. vicky says:

    our company has been taken over and they have decided to change our pay to salaried which is fine ,my issue is that they are taking part of my hourly rate and calling it overtime (weekly hourly rate is £9 and from 6pm friday to 10pm sun the rate is £10.40 ) as i work an 11hr wake shift on fri night £1.40 per hr will be classed as overtime and therefore it will be then paid in arrears on next pay date. if it is classed as overtime can they refuse to pay my hourly rate of £10.40 on some of my annual leave. hope this makes sense

  7. Ca says:


  8. Blob says:

    I normally work 3 set days a week and set times that within the days of monday to Friday no weekends ever has been worked since starting the company now with very little notice I am now working shifts within a 7 days week rota and not given much notice to the hours I will be working the next week also my work now is doing support work in house which was not the job I was doing in the first place

  9. Kaz says:

    My husband has worked for 7 months in a care home. He work 2 days with sleep there too. Then 2 days off. Because of cov19 virus. They say he has to do 7 days and night then 7 off. He has me at home disabled and need help as my care can’t come to me. They say if he can’t do it they might have to lay him off. Can they do this?

  10. Rab says:

    I’ve been working with the company for over 8 years and now because of coronavirus they say I might get paid off with no pay and then get re-employment after it’s all clear but I loose my time in employment is this legal and what rights do I have to pay thank you

  11. YORKIE says:

    I have worked for the same company for over 31 years. I have benn on reception for most of them. For around 24 years I have worked starting on a morning opening up. Mon to Thurs 7.45 till 12.45 and Fri 7.45 till 3.45. However my Employee wishes to change the hours to 7.45 till 13.30 Mon to Thur and 12.00 till 17.00 Friday. I really cant understand the logic of moving me to an afternoon on a Friday. Can they really do this to me?

  12. Broonie says:

    Hi I have worked for the same company for 28 years now they have told me they are reducing my hours and pay as buisness isn’t going well they say these changes will come into effect in 5 weeks can they do this

  13. Children’s nurse says:

    I have worked for same ward nhs for 27 years . Over this time the shift times changed from 2x 8 hour shifts and 1x 10 hour shift ( hand over time overlaps ) to 2x 12 . 5 hour shifts . My contact doesn’t state I have to do 12 hour shifts where as new contacts do. I have compromised and do a 12. 5 hour night shift but really would like to continue with my 2x 8 hour shifts . They want me to change to 2×12 hour shifts So long as I do my contacted hours a month ,do I have to change .

  14. Tray says:

    Hi I have a contact which I work from 3-6 Monday till Friday except Thursday I work 2.30-6 a college left and I was asked to work 2.30-6 every day which I did up help out for just under 2 years then my employer ask me to work 2.30-5.30 every day except Thursday I worked 2.30 – 6 I was then asked to work 2.30-5.30 Monday to Thursday and 2.30-6 Friday which I wasn’t happy about I have been working these hours for nearly 3 years but I was told I had to now I have been told I have to go back to my original hours can my employer keep doing this to me thanks

  15. Poppy says:

    I have transferred employers under TUPE regulations in April. As a result of this transfer, my office base was changed. We have now undergone a 2 week consultation period prior to another change of base. Can my employers move me again (any TUPE protection available here?) and is it OK that the consultation period was only 2 weeks? I thought there was a minimum. Thanks

  16. Bow says:

    I’m a hgv driver on a sat rota 1 in 1 off…however yard employees are in every sat and they get given 4 sat paid after 1 year 6 after 2 and 8 after 3 capped at I entitled to this as a employee of the same company as well as my sat rota

  17. Gill says:

    I start work at 5 am. My company now want us to start at 4 30. How much notice should they give us before.

  18. Alligator says:

    I have my hours through flexible working 4 set days during the week. Currently in 30 days consultation they have still offered same number of hours and days but they say one of my 4 days must be a Saturday. If I don’t accept the change they will dismiss and re-engage on whatever they want to offer – is this legal can they do this – my flexible working was given because im a Carer of elderly dimentia relatives a number of years ago

  19. Maria says:

    How many weeks notice are required to give me to change from mon to fridays to week end work , been there over 2 years and not happy with the change

  20. Cookie says:

    I have been working early morning hours from 6.00 for five consecutive days each week for 6 years .Because we have had a colleague leave they are not being replaced so they are asking us to work a late night each until 10 pm …… because I get up at 4.30 every morning I am usually in bed by 8.30 to catch up on my sleep . I have explained this to my employer to ask if they could compromise and I work till 8 instead .. they have said it needs to be till 10 . I was wondering if this is classed as an unreasonable request and if there was anything I could do about it .. thank you

  21. JDK says:

    Hello, I have been with my company for ove 10 years. the employer is changing the working hours from 9.5 to 8 per day. This means annual salary reduction. Will i get the redundancy pay if i object to agree with changes?

  22. bada says:

    i have worked nightshift for same company for twenty nine years.they want to change my hours of work.i now finish at six changes would mean I finish at seven.i would loose money..can they force a change?

  23. Bev says:

    My partner came home yesterday and told me that his employer has said I’m not paying for your half hour dinner anymore you have to work n extra half hour everyday. Is that legal. Why doesn’t he just deduct from pay.

  24. Anders says:

    Hi, I’ve been a full time employee for 3 years. I have been told by the company that they can no longer afford to keep me in a full time role and want to make it a part time position. This doesn’t suit me, what can I and they do?

  25. Booboo says:

    Hi – I work 2 day shifts 2 night shifts and then 4 off. Been doing the same for 4 years. My company was part of TUPE three months ago but all terms and conditions were carried over. My job is part of a 24/7 business covered by 4 lots of shift teams all working 2 days 2 nights then 4 days off. The management have just told us they want to rearrange the different shift teams about so different people will be working with each other. None of the 20 staff involved (5 people on 4 shifts) are happy with this. Have heard on the grapevine it is being done as some people are better at using the new computer system than others and they want a balance of strong and weak users – but this is a rumour and none of the management will confirm it. Whilst I will get used to new work colleagues it means that when the swap first happens I only get 2 days off before the usual 2 days 2 nights then 4 off begins again. However my main concern is all my holiday has been booked/granted for 2018 and the new shift pattern is at odds with it – have 12 days off in August but now will need 14 days and in October I booked 2 day shifts off to make a 6 day break and now will need 4 days (2 days 2 nights) to work in with the hotel break already booked – will my employer have to let me have the extra days – don’t want to lose my holidays that I’ve paid for but can’t afford to take time off unpaid (something my employer doesn’t usually allow) – I don’t have any holiday left.

  26. Steph says:

    Hello there. My probation has just been extended to 6 months from 3. I fear that my job role may be changing as my employer has asked me to look at a different job description. I have a meeting on Friday to discuss. I have previously worked in this job role for the past 2 years so have lots of experience. Can they change my job role within my probationary period?

  27. Louise says:

    I have been with my company for 13yrs. Working shift 4 on 4 off. 12hr shifts. Due to High BP and sleep apnoea. GP recommend 10 hrs working on the 4 on 4 off. My employer has refused. Offering me a 5 day week of 37.5 hrs. Starting at 1pm to 9pm. I have refused, they have said that is the only choice. What can I do? My Union says they can’t help me anymore.

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