Jones v Associated Tunnelling Co Ltd: EAT 16 Oct 1981

The tribunal had been asked as to the circumstances under which the acceptance of new employment terms can be inferred from an employee’s continuing to work.
Browne-Wilkinson P said: ‘The starting point must be that a contract of employment cannot simply be silent on the place of work; if there is no express term, there must be either some rule of law that in all contracts of employment the employer is (or alternatively is not) entitled to transfer the employee from his original place of work or some term regulating the matter must be implied into each contract.’
Browne-Wilkinson J said: ‘In our view, to imply an agreement to vary or to raise an estoppel against the employee on the grounds that he has not objected to a false record by the employers of the terms actually agreed is a course which should be adopted with great caution. If the variation relates to a matter which has immediate practical application (e.g. the rate of pay) and the employee continues to work without objection after effect has been given to the variation (e.g. his pay packet has been reduced) then obviously he may well be taken to have impliedly agreed. But where, as in the present case, the variation has no immediate practical effect the position is not the same. It is the view of both members of this Tribunal with experience in industrial relations (with which the Chairman, without such experience, agrees) that it is asking too much of the ordinary employee to require him either to object to an erroneous statement of his terms of employment having no immediate practical impact on him or be taken to have assented to the variation. So to hold would involve an unrealistic view of the inclination and ability of the ordinary employee to read and fully understand such statements.
Even if he does read the statement and can understand it, it would be unrealistic of the law to require him to risk a confrontation with his employer on a matter which has no immediate practical impact on the employee. For those reasons, as at present advised, we would not be inclined to imply any assent to a variation from mere failure by the employee to object to the unilateral alteration by the employer of the terms of employment contained in a statutory statement.’
Browne-Wilkinson J P
[1981] UKEAT 523 – 80 – 1610, [1981] IRLR 477
Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 81
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These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 February 2021; Ref: scu.248976