Written by - 4 Minutes reading time
Why you shouldn't blindly accept work contract changes
Permanent employees pre-sign an employment contract. This contract offers protection against an employer who wants to make unreasonable demands. Yet your employer can still change the employment contract after it has been signed. Employment lawyer Mariska Aantjes explains what to watch out for when that happens.
Everyone who joins a company must sign an employment contract. How important is that agreement within employment law?
Mariska Aantjes: "Very, very important. Together with any collective agreement, they form the basis of the rights and obligations an employee has. AIf a conflict or problem arises between employer and employee that a judge has to decide on, the judge always looks first at what the employment contract says about it. The employer also cannot simply change the conditions - such as your salary, the hours you work or your fringe benefits - afterwards."
When is an employer allowed to adjust an employment contract, though?
"Nowadays, many employment contracts include an amendment clause. This gives the employer the right to make a change if there is a compelling interest. However, the employer must have a good reason to change the terms of employment. In addition, the change must always be submitted to the employee."
What would be a legally good reason for a change?
"The employer must show that it is better for the company to arrange things differently. For example, a change in an employee's duties to work more efficiently as a whole would be a good reason. But the interest of the employee is always considered. A change in job duties is a drastic thing. Changing someone's job completely 'for variety', to 'try something new' or 'because colleague x doesn't feel like it but someone has to do it' is probably a less good reason."
"I notice in practice that people do not always realise how strong their position is."
- Mariska Aantjes, employment lawyer
"For one change, an employer will have to put more effort into showing that it is really necessary than for another. Cutting pay or reducing holidays is very drastic for the employee. Then an employer has to be able to show that there really is no other way, because, for example, the company is already in very dire financial straits and cannot survive without this drastic step."
By the sounds of it, the employee stands pretty strong.
"Yes. I notice in practice that people don't always realise how strong they are. Any change in your contract has to be presented to you. You don't have to blindly agree if you don't agree or if you feel your interests are harmed. Moreover, your personal interest is not only about the consequences at work, but also about the consequences for your private life."
"Yes. I notice in the workplace that people don't always realise how strong they are. Every change in your contract has to be submitted to you. You don't have to blindly agree if you don't agree or if you feel your interests are harmed. Moreover, your personal interest is not only about the consequences at work, but also about the consequences for your private life."
Can you give an example of this?
"For example, if your place of employment is changed, but you are a single parent and that change of location means you are going to be late to pick up your children from daycare, that definitely weighs in."
"Also pay attention to changes in fringe benefits. People sometimes see a company laptop or a lease car as something extra, a gift they should be happy with and not complain if they lose it. But if it is included in your contract, you are entitled to it."
"For example: your employer decides that working from home means leased cars are no longer needed and instead everyone gets a public transport pass for travelling on office days, because it's more sustainable. If you live in a hamlet where no public transport runs and you find it difficult to get to your workplace without it, that is a strong argument why this condition cannot be adjusted in your contract."
Are you a professional working in the Life Science industry and is your employer planning to make changes to your employment contract? If in the end, these changes don’t turn out to work for the better for you, you might be open to another opportunity. Whether you're looking for a permanent position or a temporary contract, QTC Recruitment can connect you with the right employers and help you achieve your career goals. Check out the available opportunities for you here.
Also published on Nu.nl
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