Law firm warns about changing workers' terms and conditions

Published:  13 July, 2009

MANCHESTER: Law firm, Mace & Jones, says the summer is likely to see more high profile cases of recession-battered employers cutting costs by trying to change their workers' pay and conditions.

Martin Edwards, head of employment law, warned bosses that changing terms and conditions is legally risky and requires expert legal advice.

Nationally, unemployment has risen to 2.26 million, but there has been a small rise in the number of part-time workers as more employees take up their company's offer to cut hours and pay.

"The process of changing terms and conditions must be handled with the utmost care and attention," said Mr Edwards. "Changing terms and conditions is legally complex and requires in-depth preparation to ensure the right measures are selected."

He advises employers to check to see whether existing contract terms allow some or all of the necessary flexibility to make the changes.

"If not, it's much better to reach agreement with staff through negotiation and discussion rather than imposing change.

"It is vital that employers manage the process diplomatically from the very beginning." Getting off on the wrong foot risked antagonising staff and damaging morale, he said.

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