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Can you change an employee's job description?

If not handled correctly, could land you in front of the FWC.
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Can you change an employee

Can you change an employee's job description?

4 June 2021

Employers should think twice before changing an employee’s job description. Any change to a job description can be seen as a termination and, if not handled correctly, could land you in front of the Fair Work Commission.

Generally speaking, an employer cannot simply decide to vary a contract of employment. For example, a company can't just decide to demote an employee and cut their pay.

If you do want to fundamentally change a job description, particularly where a pay cut is involved, the first step is to consult with the employee to see if a compromise can be reached.

If negotiations fail, the employee may be entitled to redundancy upon termination.

Awards and agreements

Modern awards and enterprise agreement have specific consultation obligations which must be followed. Nonetheless, best practice suggests that employees should be consulted about all variations to a job description and where consent to a variation is required, this should be obtained in writing.

While you can improve your position by having written employment contracts which expressly state the circumstances in which a job description can be varied, you’re not free to simply move an employee to a different job, without incurring considerable risk.

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