I have five staff. I want to change their working hours from 9.00am – 5.00pm to 8.00am – 4.00pm. Can I do this?

Year Published: 2015

Changing an employee’s contract of employment without their agreement, even where their employment contract allows you to do it, can be risky. If an employer simply imposes different contract terms such as a change in hours or pay, they will be in breach of contract and employees may well resign and make a claim against the company for constructive dismissal.

Before making changes, employers should consult with employees and explain and discuss the reasons for the change. Employees are far more likely to accept changes if they can understand the reasons behind them and have an opportunity to express their views.

Involving employees also makes good business sense, as it drives up levels of employee engagement and motivation. Some employers offer incentives to encourage their employees to agree to the change(s). Incentives do not have to be financially costly to a company, for example, a company wishing to alter shift patterns may be able to offer extra paid or unpaid leave in exchange.

Where an employee is refusing to agree to a change, it is advisable to take further advice at that stage as it may be necessary to consider bringing the employment relationship to an end.

Any agreed variations should be recorded in writing and a copy of the agreed changes should be issued to the employee as soon as possible.

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