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Variation Clauses

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of EEF for providing this case summary]

The EAT (Silber J) has handed down its decision in Bateman v Asda Stores, which is authority for the proposition that a broad contractual right to alter terms and conditions of employment in line with business needs can, even if contained in a Company Handbook, permit an employer to make unilateral changes to contractual terms, including rates of pay and hours of work, without the need for the express consent of employees, provided that the changes are properly implemented and the employer acts in line with the implied duty to maintain trust and confidence.

The power to amend can extend beyond the right to alter non-contractual policies to cover making changes to terms of the contract without further consent.

On the facts, Asda acted properly in harmonising terms and conditions of employment for a small proportion of staff who refused to agree to a new pay structure.