Do I have to sign a new contract? Ask the expert

I am about to finish my maternity leave. Our financial year runs April-March. At the time I went on leave my contract comprised salary + commission based on a regional sales target. I wasn’t paid any commission for the Apr-Jun quarter because the sales targets had not been approved and usually the commission rates alter slightly after this. Later in 2013 the entire sales team’s contracts (globally) were re-written to comprise (1) salary + (2) commission based on a regional sales target + (3) personal performance incentive + (4) company performance incentive. My on target earnings total stayed identical, but the bonus-related part is now split into three separate incentives instead of one. As part of this, a new performance management framework was introduced during my maternity leave and two review cycles have occurred, both of which I have missed, so I have not had the chance to be assessed. I have been with the company for 10 years and never had anything other than positive performance reports in the past. However, the new assessment framework is much more complex than the old system where only the manager rated the employee.I’ve done the figures on what I would’ve been entitled to under my old contract and decided the new one (which I haven’t signed yet) puts me in a worse position. I’m not really sure what I’m entitled to as my existing contract said it would be reviewed this Spring, but it wasn’t. Does this mean my old contract still applies or is it null and void as of the review date? I’ve been chasing HR about this for over a year now, but no one seems to be able to give me answers as there is nothing specifically written into the company’s policies about how bonus/commission payments are treated for employees on maternity leave. What should I be expecting them to pay? Do I have to sign the new contract (like the rest of my team already have) or can I stand my ground to retain my old contract?

It is difficult to comment in the absence of all of the information, i.e. details of your old contract and new contract, and communication between you and your employer.  However, as a minimum, your employer should have consulted with you whilst you were on maternity leave about the changes to your terms and conditions.

By not consulting with you, you potentially have a claim of discrimination on the grounds of your maternity.  Any such claims would be dependent upon what the other employees were consulted regarding the changes to the terms and conditions.  Accordingly, I suggest you raise a grievance about the way that you have been treated, and recommend that you do not sign the Agreement until the outcome of your grievance.


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