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Question: May an employer change a policy without the agreement of employees?

Answer: Yes, a policy may be changed without agreement of employees, unless it amounts to a change to an agreed term or condition of employment.

Brief explanation: A policy is often a broad statement of an employer’s approach to a particular subject that does not necessarily relate directly to a law or agreed condition of employment, e.g. an “open door policy”, “training and development policy”, “HIV and AIDS policy”, etc. In these cases the employer can change a policy without obtaining the agreement of employees (although consultation with employees would be advisable for the sake of communication and good employee relations). However, where a policy pertains to basic conditions of employment (for example annual leave or maternity leave policy that is more beneficial to the employee than the provisions of the BCEA), and such policy has been communicated to employees or implemented in practice, it could be inferred as an agreed condition of employment. Any change thereto would then have to be agreed.

Note: These snippets of information are based on frequently asked questions and will be circulated to subscribers on a regular basis. Labourwise subscribers are invited to submit questions on matters that they believe would be of general interest to employers.

Disclaimer: The material above is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on information contained in this article.

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