Making Changes to your Employment Contract: Advice for PAs

A contract between an employer and an employee or worker is a legally binding agreement.

You or your employer can propose changes to your terms and conditions.

Any changes must be agreed by both you and your employer.

Where to find your terms and conditions

All employees and workers have a legal right to a ‘written statement of employment particulars’. This is a written document summarising the main terms and conditions of your employment.

You have a legal right to a written statement even if your contract is agreed verbally.

A written statement can be given to you:

  • As part of a written employment contract, if you have one, or
  • In a separate document.

A written employment contract usually includes:

  • The details that are legally required in your written statement
  • Details about other terms and conditions
  • Information about the employer’s policies and procedures.

Some terms and conditions might be in other places too, for example, in a staff handbook.

When employment contracts can be changed

Your employment contract can be changed when:

  • either you or your employer propose a change, which you then discuss and agree with your employer
  • your employer has a ‘collective agreement’ with a trade union and the union agrees changes to your terms and conditions on your behalf
  • you agreed to a term in your contract that allows your employer to make changes to some terms of your employment in some circumstances – sometimes known as a ‘flexibility clause’ or ‘variation clause’ (but these clauses must still be exercised ‘reasonably’) 
  • a change happens through ‘custom and practice’ – your terms and conditions change over time and everyone’s agreement can be implied.

When you might propose contract changes

In some circumstances, you might want to propose changing your employment contract. For example, if:

  • Your job role has changed since you started working for your employer
  • You want to ask for improved terms and conditions, such as a pay rise or extra holiday
  • You want to make a flexible working request (you can find out more about this in the Resource below)

Your employer does not have to agree to every change you propose, but they should always listen to you and consider your proposal.

When your employer might propose contract changes

Examples of when your employer may need to consider changing your employment contract are:

  • To make sure your contract is up to date with new laws or regulations
  • To better reflect your job role, if it has changed
  • To introduce or change terms and conditions for staff, for example contractual redundancy pay, enhanced maternity or paternity leave, or details of a pension scheme
  • To reflect changes to your employer’s circumstances, for example if they’re considering moving.

What your employer must do if they want to change your contract

If your employer is considering changes that may affect your contract, they must:

  • Explain the change they’re considering and the reasons why
  • Consult with you – this means they must ask for and genuinely consider your views
  • Consult with trade union or other employee representatives, in some circumstances.

They should tell you:

  • what the proposed changes are
  • who might be affected
  • why they believe the change is needed
  • how they think the change could benefit employees
  • how they may be affected if the changes are not made
  • when they propose to introduce the changes
  • any other options that have been considered.

Your employer should also explain to you that you can consider the proposed changes, and explain how they will deal with any questions, concerns or suggestions you have about the changes.

If you believe your employer wants to make changes to your contract without consulting you, or has not given you the right information about changing your contract, you may wish to get advice about how to challenge this. You can contact ACAS or the Personal Assistant Network Scotland for advice.

Next steps

Find out more about changes to your employment contract in the resources below.

Part of
Last Updated
23 May 2024
First Published
01 April 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.