My query is simple. My original appointment letter states my notice period as 1 month. However, later the organisation changed its company policy and amended the said appointment letter to read as 3 months’ notice. However, the HR department just sent a mail telling all employees that the new notice policy will be binding on all. They never modified any contracts to state the same and didnot take our signatures. My question is, what would hold valid in a court of law? A signed appointment letter stating one month notice period or a company policy statement stating the change in notice period to three months?

From India, Jaipur
Labour Law & Hr Consultant

In India, notice clause for unilateral termination of employment in the contract of employment other than discharge or retrenchment by the employer is discretionary only. Even if it is there, as I understand, Courts do not issue any decree compelling the employee to do the specific performance of serving the notice period but only grant the relief of liquidated damages to the employer equivalent only to the salary of the notice period already stipulated.
Therefore, subsequent revision of the earlier notice period can be done by the employer subject to the formal intimation of the change which seems to have been done by the poster's employer.
Having said so about the legal position of the effect of breach of notice clause, it would also be pertinent to discuss the prime objective behind the concept of notice of termination clause in the contract of employment. Notice of unilateral termination is primarily to inform the other party about one's intention of exit in advance so as to enable him to find the apt alternative. That's why it is very difficult to define the duration of the notice period very precisely. So the positive conclusion one should arrive at is even in the absence of mention of any specific period , it is necessary to give notice of exit.
Therefore, the objection of the poster with reference to the signed appointment letter can not hold good.

From India, Salem
Thank you for your kind response. But in that case the employer almost has a free run in amending the notice period clause at will. What if tomorrow they turn it into a six month notice period? They would not need employee’s signature to do so, at all? A mere intimation on email would suffice?
From India, Jaipur
Your original appointment letter states the notice period as 1 month. The terms and conditions are binding, only when the offer has been agreed or accepted.
Here, the offer of the management is change of terms enhancement of notice period from 1 month to 3 months but not yet a contract as long as it gets agreed by the groups.
If the notice of change is not challenged/ objected shall be conditionaly treated as an acceptance.

From India, Mumbai
Thanks. But in our case, there was no discussion/consultation before changing the notice period term. It was just a mail that said it would be binding on us all. Isn’t that a little too convenient for the employer? That way, they can amend laws as and when they please. Moreover, the signed appointment letter is a valid contract between the employee and employer. And it holds good till a new letter is drafted stating the change in terms and conditions. Would my case hold good if I were to challenge them for holding my F&F for a month served. And demanding a recovery for two ‘apparently due’ months of notice?
From India, Jaipur

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