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Jeremy Hunt imposes new terms and conditions onto Junior Doctors – How to effectively change the terms and conditions of employment

On 11th February 2016, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt took the decision to impose a new contract on Junior Doctors which amends their existing terms and conditions of employment.  Contract changes are sometimes necessary for your business so how would SimpleHR support an employer who needed to amend their contracts of employment for an existing team of staff?

To change an individual’s terms and conditions you must go through a consultation process, otherwise this change could be deemed as a breach of contract. The purpose of the consultation process is to engage in meaningful consultation and seek joint agreement to the new terms and conditions.  In our experience, if a fair and reasonable process is followed this is normally a smooth process with very little challenge.  

If each party are unable to come to a mutual agreement the employer will terminate the employee’s employment and re-instate under the new terms and conditions.  With any dismissal, there are risks of unfair dismissal claims, however if you can clearly define your business reasons for the change and have followed a fair legal process, it minimises any risk.  

The final solution is to follow in Mr Hunt’s foorsteps and unilaterally amend terms and conditions, i.e. enforce the change without the agreement of the employees.  There is a serious risk of breach of contract and bringing constructive dismissal claims and therefore if this is a last resort, it would have to be managed very carefully and with HR guidance. 

If you would like to discuss this, or any other HR query that you many have, please get in touch with one of our consultants who will happily support.

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