The Employment Appeal Tribunal has delivered its judgment in Bateman v Asda Stores Ltd which considered the lawfulness of an employer’s decision to adjust its employees’ terms and conditions of employment. The EAT concluded that an employer is allowed to make unilateral alterations to contractual terms where there is a broad contractual right to do so, if this is in line with business needs, without the express consent of their employees. This can include changes to pay rates and the number of hours worked. However it is necessary that the alterations are put into effect correctly and that the employer acts in accordance with their implied duty to maintain trust and confidence.
It was established that Asda had acted properly in adapting the terms and conditions for the small proportion of staff who had refused to accept a new wage framework. Although this decision is good news for employers, employers do still need to be very careful when changing terms and conditions of employment unilaterally and advice should be taken.