Internship Program

A unique opportunity for law students to engage with employment law

ISEALS for international students

Supporting students' work rights

COVID-19 Q&As

Q&A resources about workers' rights in COVID-19

Newsletter signup

For regular employment law updates from JobWatch

Open Menu Close Menu

Employment Contracts: Changes to Existing Contracts

Any proposed change or variation to your contract should be negotiated (discussed) with you. Just because an employer wants to change the contract does not mean you have to accept the change. You are entitled to say “no” to a proposed change.

Everyone who works as an employee has an employment contract with their employer. Employment contracts come in various forms. They can be written or verbal or a combination of both. The written component can be named different things like ‘agreement’, ‘terms and conditions of employment’ or ‘workplace agreement’. For further information about what is in an employment contract, see the JobWatch “Employment Contracts” infosheet.

During the life of a contract of employment, some of its terms and conditions may change. This can happen for various reasons including length of employment, changes in technology and pay increases. Any proposed change or variation to your contract should be negotiated (discussed) with you. That is, one party cannot legally change the contract without the consent of the other party. Just because an employer wants to change the contract does not mean you have to accept the change. You are entitled to say “no” to a proposed change.

If you disagree with a proposed change, it is sometimes a good idea to confirm this in writing to your employer (always keeping copies of these letters or emails for your own records).

Sometimes changes to a contract can be so fundamental that they create a whole new contract. In these situations, you might be entitled to take action for unfair dismissal, provided that you never accepted the proposed change. You could then effectively claim that by insisting on the variation, your employer ended your old contract and therefore terminated your employment.

Circumstances that may mean the end of an employment contract include:

  • switching from permanent employment status to casual;
  • a major cut in hours of work;
  • a major cut in pay, classification or conditions; and/or
  • a major change in job description or responsibility (e.g.
    demotion).

If anything like this happens in the course of your employment, you should get urgent advice from your union, a lawyer or JobWatch.

For more information about changes to employment contracts, rejecting changes, terminating contracts and more, download the fact sheet.

For further support

Call our Telephone Information Service on Melbourne Metro (03) 9662 1933 or Regional Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania on 1800 331 617.

Sign up for our newsletter

Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved

JobWatch acknowledges and is grateful for the financial and other support it has received from our supporters.
JobWatch acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this nation. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we are located and where we conduct our business. We pay our respects to ancestors, and Elders, past, present and emerging.