Can My Employer Change My Employment Contract?

Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: April 26th, 2017 | Categories: Employment & COBRA Claims


If you have an employment contract, your company or agency almost definitely has a legal obligation to inform you of any changes it makes to the agreement. That may end the employer’s obligation, but a strong employment contract will require the employee to agree to any substantive changes. This is one of the main reasons to hire an Ohio employee rights attorney when offered a job that comes with the opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment; namely, the employer should have as many obligation to the employee as the employee does to the employer.

What Terms of an Employment Contract Can Be Changed?

Every aspect of a paid position is theoretically open to negotiation and contractual obligation. A short version of the list an employment contract attorney would use includes:

  • Roles, which covers the job title, lines of reporting to supervisors and managers, and interacting with clients and members of the public
  • Responsibilities, which include assigned tasks, required qualifications, and need for ongoing training and certifications
  • Compensation, including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and stock or equity
  • Benefits, covering health insurance, life insurance, leave, and incidentals like a corporate vehicle and allowance for entertaining clients
  • Conditions, which can cover everything from work hours and lunch breaks to protective clothing and physical location
  • Intellectual property, meaning what counts as a work for hire and belongs to the employers versus what counts as the creation of the individual worker
  • Nondisclosure agreements, which come into play both while the employee is actively employed and after he or she leaves
  • Separation clauses, covering severance, continued health insurance or COBRA, and noncompete agreements restricting taking a job with a direct competitor

Not every item on this list applies to each job, but highly detailed employment contracts protect employees from violations of their rights while also shielding employers from lawsuits.

When an employer wants to change any part of an employee’s contract, it should be bound by the contract itself to notify the employee and secure his or her consent to the change. This is what happens during union negotiations, and it is also the process for executives, highly skilled technicians, and others who have individualized employment contracts.

What Happens if an Employer Breaks an Employment Contract?

Civil courts enforce contracts. Employment disputes involving termination, reductions in pay, and denial of promised opportunities often go to mediation or arbitration instead of being settled by a judge or jury. Whatever dispute resolution process is used, both the employer and the worker have undeniable rights to legal advice and representation from an employment contract attorney. If the employer is found to have neglected its duties under contract, it can be held responsible for paying monetary damages and, sometimes, rehiring the unfairly treated employee.

What if You Don’t Have a Written, Signed Employment Contact?

Not every worker has an explicit employment contract. Even in Ohio, which has a strong industrial base and large higher education sector for union jobs, a majority of people work at will. Holding at-will employment means that a worker can leave his or her job at any time for any reason. It also means that the employer can fire the employee for any nondiscriminatory reason at any time. Also, because people who work at will do not have enforceable contracts, their companies and agencies can change the terms and conditions of employment without the workers’ knowledge or consent.

Be aware, however, that even without an employment contract, employers cannot terminate, demote, pay lower wages to, deny benefits and leave to, or refuse to hire a person because of that person’s race, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, pregnancy, or military/veteran status. Anyone in Ohio who believes they were fired from an at-will job because the management discriminated against them should contact an employees’ rights attorney.

Gt answers to all your employment law question by setting up a free consultation with the Jones Law Group. We offer confidential consultations, and we help both employers and workers. Call us at (614) 545-9998 or connect with us online.



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