The recent Court of Appeal case of Department of Transport v Sparks has looked at the question of whether a new attendance management procedure could be unilaterally amended by the employer.

In this case the Court of Appeal held that the new attendance management procedure which introduced new absence trigger levels formed part of the contract of employment, despite it only being contained in the Employee Handbook.

The employees in this case successfully challenged the employer’s wish to unilaterally make changes without the employee’s consent.

Whilst it can be useful for some policies and procedures to form part of the contract of employment, employers need to give careful consideration as to which elements of the Employee Handbook should be contractual and which elements ought to be merely good practice guidance.

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