Everything changes. Even the law.

It’s extremely important to remain compliant with the law. All organisations should frequently review their Employee Handbook. This is to ensure its policies and procedures reflect any changes to legislation or case law developments.

But can you change the Employee Handbook at the drop of a hat?

The most significant benefit to the Employee handbook not being contractual is that it allows employers to vary its contents without requiring the formal consent of its employees.

In your Employee Handbook, you should clearly state that the contents of the Employee Handbook do not form part of the terms of their Contract of Employment unless otherwise stated. In addition, it should state that you may need to amend any policy or procedure to ensure that it remains relevant. As you can see, the drafting is important so make sure your Employee Handbook is drafted by a legal expert.

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The second benefit to the Employee Handbook not being contractual is that if you violate a procedure or policy, it will not constitute a breach of contract. However, if you do breach a procedure in an Employee Handbook, an Employment Tribunal will see if you have followed your own internal procedures and look at the reasons why you have deviated from it.

Even if the Handbook is not of a contractual nature, employees are still under an implied duty to follow lawful and reasonable orders and abide by the terms in the Handbook.

Always take care when making changes

Changes to Employee Handbooks should always be handled carefully.

It is easier to get people on board if you discuss rules and policies with them directly or with employee representatives. Talking through what you are planning to introduce or change will let them understand the rationale behind the rules and give them the chance to raise their viewpoints and concerns. Remember that all your policies should be reasonable and non-discriminatory.

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You should clearly notify the employee of the change and provide them with an up-to-date copy of the Employee Handbook. Make sure that employee takes the time to read its contents. It is recommended to get acknowledgement from your employees that they have understood the policies and procedures found within.

If your Employee Handbook is contractual, or there is trade union recognition, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Our Employment Law Adviser can not only give you guidance, they can draft your Employee Handbook too.  Contact us to find out more.

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Call us on 0345 226 8393.

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