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Employment Law

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Breach of Contract

Terms of the employment

Your contract of employment will contain some of your terms of employment. A standard contract will cover matters such as pay, holiday entitlement, place of work etc. However, your contract is not conclusive of your terms of employment. For example, every contract of employment contains an implied term of mutual trust and confidence. As this is an implied term, it is very unusual to see it actually written down in a contract of employment.

If your employer has a particular way of working, this too may become an implied term of your contract. For example, it may be that for the last 20 years your employer has let everyone go home at lunch time on a Friday. As this has become common practice it could be argued that it has become an implied term of your contract, even if your contract does not mention this.

Similarly, if your contract does refer to a term but the day-to-day practice is to do things differently, the day-to-day practice may override the written term. For example, if your contract says that you cannot use the office telephone for personal use but everyone in the office has done so for the last 20 years, it may be that it is an implied term of your contract that you can use the telephone for personal use.

Your employer cannot alter your terms and conditions of employment without your consent, apart from in exceptional circumstances. To vary your contract there must be an agreement between the employee and employer. If your employer changes the terms of your employment without agreeing it with you then your employer may have breached your contract of employment.
If you feel that your employer has breached your contract of employment unilaterally – i.e. without your agreement – then please contact us for advice on your rights.

See also constructive dismissal.