Employers should start by assessing the reason for the variations – currently likely to be the threat to the business from Coronavirus – and establish what level of variation is required. Taking salary reductions as an example, it would be prudent for finance and HR departments to work together to assess what level of savings the company must achieve and then model the most appropriate way to achieve that within the required timescales. In doing so, businesses should be mindful of the possibility of using flexible furlough.
It is also sensible to review contracts of employment (and, where appropriate, any collective agreements) in order to assess whether these provide a mechanism for variation. This will inform the process that will need to be undertaken and the relevant timescales.