My company is going through a transitional period after being bought out by a competitor and we are all being asked to sign a new [non negotiable] contract

Whist in this transitional period my reporting line has changed and my duties have changed as well, I signed a contract to join the company as a support developer where my duties included resolving software bugs by developing fixes for the systems there.

My duties now are to be a go between reporting bugs from the users to the developers and to do no development work at all, I'm basically just filling out forms detailing the issues now rather than offering up fixes. I'm getting quite down about this now as I'm losing touch with my skills and am becoming less marketable

I'm desperate to leave the company but there is a 2 month notice period as part of our contract, if I am made an offer from an employer I will want to move as soon as possible.

Bearing in mind that all I do now are admin tasks that do not use the skill set they employed me for does this mean that the company is in breach of contract? Leaving the current contract I have [not the new ones we have been asked to sign] null and void, so giving me a bit of an angle if I want to leave before I'm contracted to leave?

The new contract has the same notice period in it also so there is no advantage to me signing the new contract.

I'm UK based if that makes any difference, I do understand that the contract is there to protect both my employer and myself.

I am not asking for legal advice here, just if my contract is still binding if my job has changed so much that I'm not actually doing the job I was originally employed to do.

  • Have you signed the new contract?
    – acolyte
    Jun 27, 2013 at 18:46
  • Hello spences -- I've updated your question a bit in the hopes of focusing it on the real issue and making it more than just a question asking for legal advice. If you think I missed the point or it could be further improved, please use the edit function.
    – jmac
    Jun 27, 2013 at 23:28
  • 1
    I believe this to be on topic. Obviously the answer is 'talk to a lawyer' but a good and general answer is certainly possible. Jun 27, 2013 at 23:40
  • 3
    Until this is opened: 1) Talk to a lawyer. If you are in a union talk to them. 2) talk to your fellow employees. If none of them sign this contract the company may rethink. Companies often like to make it sound like you have no choices. At the very least you can split the cost of a lawyer. 3) If you refuse to sign, I'm fairly sure your previous contract still applies. Of course that doesn't mean they won't fire you. But it will be a termination without cause. A company cannot arbitrarily change the terms of your employement. Jun 27, 2013 at 23:43
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    The term "non-negotiable" is a bit of a non-sequitur, particularly if you simply refuse to accept it. Contracts are an agreement between two competent parties. If you don't agree, the contract doesn't exist. Jun 28, 2013 at 4:22

2 Answers 2


contact the HR and/or a laywer and ask if you can get laid off,

IANAL if all parties agree then a contract can become void, the notice period is for a one-sided cancellation (it's in essence a pre-agreement on the employer's side to agree to the cancellation 2 months after you declare intention of canceling the contract)


Have you brought up the issue of duties with your manager? The rest of this assumes that you have, but they did not resolve it to your satisfaction.

Contracts that include your duties will generally also include "... and other duties as required", so that the employer can assign you to meet their needs. I assume you don't want to do something like go to court over how "other duties as required" has become your entire job, especially since providing detailed bug reports that other programmers can actually work with is definitely strongly related to development.

The new contract may include terms for the employee (or either party) terminating the contract early, that should be the first thing you check. If those terms are fine with you, you can sign it and continue your job search knowing that you will pay the penalty if it is necessary. If it is necessary, consider factoring it into your negotiations with the new employer (either as signing bonus or wage).

Finally, if the above doesn't apply or the terms aren't acceptable, and you are willing to lose your job over it, just don't sign the contract. 2 months is a long time for a company to wait around for you, and would probably hurt your job search.

It is also possible you will be let go in the near future as part of restructuring, as paying a programmer to complete paperwork is generally not very cost efficient.

  • 1
    Guys please don't generalize from I presume a non UK location -changes in contracts on take over is a very complex area well meaning advice from other countrys is dangerous and could give people wrong information.
    – Neuro
    Jun 27, 2013 at 23:42

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