In UK employment law, the staff handbook often forms part of the contract.

I work for Company XYZ. This is clearly stated in my contract. The handbook is for Company ABC, which is my employer's old name before I joined.

Let's say that I don't like the probation period section of the Company ABC handbook. Am I contractually obligated to follow that old handbook?

  • 1
    It is unlikely that you can just ignore it based on the name inside. For example I really like Gitlab's handbook and use a reference to it as my company handbook.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 9 '18 at 15:22

Am I contractually obligated to follow that old handbook?

Yes. Consider this: your employer gave you a copy of the handbook saying, "here is a copy of the staff handbook." Because of this, you know that the document in question is the staff handbook of your company, regardless of the fact that it bears an old name, and that the policies it expresses are part of the terms of your employment contract.

If you were truly concerned that the document in question had no validity as the staff handbook, you perhaps should have expressed that concern by telling the person giving you the document that they appear to have given you the wrong document, because it bears a different name. By not doing this, you accept the terms in the document.

On the other hand, if you do do that, you'll just irritate the people who have to produce a rebranded staff handbook so they can give you a copy.

  • 2
    A somewhat closer analogy. The company is a sole proprietorship. The fact that the proprietor gets married and has a name change as a result does not change the validity of an employee handbook for the company issued in a pre-marital name.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 10 '18 at 17:12
  • @ohwilleke indeed, I was also thinking of pointing out that a change in an employee's name similarly does not invalidate an employment contract. I'm not sure why I decided to omit that; perhaps I did not want to clutter the argument. Your example being closer to the present fact pattern is better in that regard.
    – phoog
    Jul 10 '18 at 17:30

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