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cmcsolicitor, Solicitor
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Satisfied Customers: 157
Experience:  and Mediator practicing in Cork, Ireland.
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Is a verbal employment contract legally binding here in Ireland? I

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Is a verbal employment contract legally binding here in Ireland?

I have worked 23 years for the company but 16 years ago approx., on the birth of my second child I reduced my hours to 4 days pw. Then 12 years ago reduced my week to 3 days per week. This was all agreed by our former CEO who has now left the company.

At the time it was also agreed verbally that my annual holidays would not be cut pro rata and to look at this as a bonus for years of service.

I have now been told by a colleague at a meeting last week the following:

I have no longer the same job (which is secretary) as all managers I worked for have now to do their own typing;

I have no contract of employment so my terms and conditions agreed with our old CEO were not given to me in a written contract

That I am not entitled to any public holidays as I do not normally work on Mondays (I work Tues, Wed & Thurs.

That they are now giving me a written contract with new terms and conditions which I do not agree with

Can they do this?

cmcsolicitor :

A verbal contract is binding, yes. The terms and conditions under which you have worked for a number of years cannot be changed unilaterally, ie without your consent.

cmcsolicitor :

On the other hand, if your position has effectively become redundant, because the company no longer requires a typist, then being moved to new duties is a reality. That is a reasonable change and one which you will presumably agree to, if you are satisfied to do a different job for the same employer rather than be made redundant.


Job duties have not changed other than not as much typing as my duties were all administrative and typing was only on an ad-hoc basis as required. Therefore I assume my old terms and conditions still apply?

cmcsolicitor :

Yes, the old terms and conditions should still apply. In principle, as a matter of contract law, changes can only be made to your contract if you agree to them.


Thank you for that information. What is my best option going forward? I have a meeting with our new CEO on Thursday morning and am not too sure how to approach it. I do not like confrontation and do not want to be put in a position of being made very uncomfortable if I do not accept his new terms and conditions of employment. I am very upset over this but feel I would not be able for the stress of going down a legal route. Should I make some compromise but if this is unacceptable to him - have I know choice but to seek legal representation? Or are there any other avenues?

cmcsolicitor :

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you - I did not see the notification in my inbox.

cmcsolicitor :

I hope that your meeting on Thursday went well.

cmcsolicitor :

If you are threatened with dismissal on the basis that you refuse to accept the changes to your contract, then that would amount to unfair dismissal. I imagine that some kind of mutual compromise should be possible, as they will be aware of that.

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