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Making Changes to Employment Agreements 101

In business, employment relationships are constantly changing. Business requirements change, new hours become available, new changes to wage laws come out… all of which require the employment agreement to be updated.  

So how do you go about changing employment agreements?

Making changes to your agreements is a fairly simple process and the best place to start is with a conversation! Clear, open, and honest communication is key when approaching anything to do with employment. Sit down and have a chat with your employees about the changes you are thinking about making and why. Ask their thoughts, look for feedback, and remember, it’s not called an employment relationship for nothing! 

Having a conversation first can really help changes to go over smoothly and problems to be worked out long before they arise.

When you need to make changes, you don’t necessarily have to re-issue an entirely new agreement; a written record will usually suffice. Check what your employment agreement says about how modifications will occur. Usually, agreements will have a clause stating that it must be changed in writing signed by both parties. In this case, you will need to write a letter stating the proposed changes, the reason for the changes, and what this will mean for the employee. This letter will need to be signed by both parties for the agreement to be officially changed. 

If you have agreed to any changes verbally or in email, we strongly suggest backing this up with a written record signed by both parties. This can really save you some headaches later down the track!

What if your employees don’t agree with the changes?

The biggest thing to note here is that changes to employment agreements cannot be forced. Again, a conversation is the best place to start. Often some understanding and brainstorming can sort out a lot of problems. Talk about why the changes are necessary and be open to hearing some new ideas to co-create a solution.

If you are not able to find a solution that works for both of you and your reasons for the changes are substantial, then you may need to look at starting the restructuring process. This is a much larger process and requires a lot more work which, if you get some advice on before staring, will protect you from further stress or worry. 

And remember…

  • Keep lines of communication clear and open,
  • You can’t force changes on employees,
  • Get everything in writing,
  • Seek advice when you need it.

Our Human Resources Specialists are experts in working with small to medium-sized businesses who recognise the value of human resources but don’t have time to do it themselves. We take the mystery out of your employment issues and give practical help without it costing you the earth. Whether you’re starting afresh or taking your business to the next level, Livewire HR will help build your people power, so you can grow your business.

For more information or help with hiring, recruitment, or induction, head to www.livewirehr.co.nz or contact us on 0800 HR LIVE or info@livewirehr.co.nz.


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