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Topic: Contractual clauses

blanket power to vary contract clause
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Blanket power to vary contract clause

Blanket power to vary contract clause

Be careful when using our blanket power to vary contract clause - there’s a high risk you won’t be able to rely on it to make significant changes to an employee’s contract of employment. That said, it’s useful for non-fundamental changes and as a bargaining tool to persuade an employee to agree to changes.

Contractual power

If well drafted, a contract of employment may include provisions allowing you to make certain changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment without their consent, for example, requiring them to relocate to a different workplace or to vary their normal working hours. Such a clause needs to be sufficiently clear, explicit and unambiguous in its power to change a specific contractual term on a unilateral basis and it must be broad enough to encompass the particular change that you are proposing to make. Some contracts of employment may also contain an express blanket power seemingly enabling you to vary any of the terms of the contract when the needs of the business so dictate. This is what our Blanket Power to Vary Contract Clause purports to do - it allows you to make a change where it’s in the interests of improving the efficiency of your business or is to meet future business needs. However, as it stands, this type of clause will normally be unenforceable. Instead, a power to amend on a blanket basis will be interpreted as limited to changes of a minor and non-fundamental nature. Employment tribunals will look at how widely the relevant clause has been drafted and, the wider and more generic it is, the less likely it is that it’s enforceable. In any event, even with an enforceable provision, don’t forget that you also need to ensure you comply with the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence in making any unilateral contractual changes - this normally involves appropriate consultation with the employee and then giving reasonable notice of the change.

Why have it?

If it’s normally unenforceable, why bother having this type of clause at all? Well, firstly, you will still potentially be able to make minor changes relying on it. Secondly, the employee won’t necessarily know that it’s unenforceable, so it can be a good bargaining tool when you’re trying to agree any contractual changes with them. 

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