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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 20 May 2020 | comments*Discuss
Work Nights Day Shift Night Shift


I have been asked to work nights, I have no one to look after my son on some of the nights I am wanted to work. There is still a day shift running on the section that I am currently working on. What are my rights to stay on the day shift if my employer trys to force me to work nights?

(A.D, 1 June 2009)


The Issues

The suggestion that an employer may force someone to work nights is certainly worrying. Employers who take this approach upset staff and damage their companies’ reputations.

Furthermore, it’s clear from the question that this employee cannot work nights. After all, on some occasions there’ll be no one at home to look after a child.

First Point

The first point to make is that an employer cannot force someone to change shift patterns. This is unreasonable. There’s a potential problem in the way this situation may unfold, however.

If an employer tries to force a member of staff to work nights, and the member of staff refuses, such a confrontation is bad for everyone involved. The member of staff may win in the short-term; but in the medium to long-term, the employer may prove difficult over other issues such as granting time off.


One way to avoid harmful confrontation is for both sides to talk to each other in a sensible way. More than likely, the employee will have to make the first move.

The best course of action is to speak to the appropriate manager. Explain why a change to the night shift is impractical. Most managers will respond positively.

If the manager isn’t sympathetic, speak to the HR section. Again, explain the situation and ask to stay on the day shift.

Flexible Working

If the HR section takes the manager’s side, or your company doesn’t have an HR professional, then discuss flexible working.

Employees have a legal right to ask for flexible working. To make such a request within the law, an employee mustn’t be an Agency Worker; must have worked for the company for 26 weeks or more; and mustn’t have made a similar request in the past year.

Employees must also give a reason for the request. The three eligible reasons are:

  • caring for a child aged 16 or under
  • caring for a disabled child under 18 who is receiving disability living allowance (DLA)
  • caring for certain adults
In this question, the employee is not asking to change hours as part of a flexible working arrangement but to stay on the day shift. Because the request is not to change, the employer may seize on this and still try to force the employee to work nights. If so, the employee needs to point out that once on the night shift, he or she will demand the legal right to Flexible Working. This will lead to a return to the day shift in order to care for the child.

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Hi - my employer changed my night shift to 18h00 to 02h00am because I take medication, I suggested 15h00 to 23h00 as travelling back home at 2am is unsafe & secondly I take my medication & work which is also unsafe as it make me drowsy. please assist and advise..thanks
Clive - 20-May-20 @ 2:44 PM
Hi, my Emplyer change my night shift from 18h00 to 02h00am, due to health reason & medication, I suggested I work from 15h00 to 23h00 my employer refused, it is unsafe to take my medication & work , furthermore to drive back home at 2am in the morning, it this fair?
Clive - 20-May-20 @ 2:41 PM
I was hired 2 years ago for am shifts. It says on application AM only.Now they are trying to make me work evenings. I'm not available. what are my rights
Donkey - 14-May-20 @ 2:12 PM
I was hired to work a specific shift as a salaried supervisor. After being on this shift for 2 years I was asked to come to first shift "For a few weeks" to help out.After helping to get the first shift back to operating capacity I was told I could not go back to 3rd shift as they had hired a replacement.
RM001 - 12-May-20 @ 7:49 PM
My employer created a 2nd shift for only two people due to covid19 . They said I needed to go to 2nd shift , I communicated and reach out my opinion of this and they still changed it. This is a Corp plant in a high crime area with a gate but no cameras and only two of us working with a security guard that mainly only controls the gate . No one is there to watch us when we go to our vehicles and there is no manger or supervisor on call nor with us. Do I have any rights as I was also forced into this shift and stated many times I did not want this shift . I am a female and I work with one male on this shift
Liza - 12-May-20 @ 6:40 PM
I am a supervisor for second shift, I get paid the same as a supervisor on first shift. And the manager said we all get paid the same. Can this be posible?
Micky - 11-May-20 @ 6:52 AM
My employer has told me to work at another site 300 miles away. I havent been asked to work away before in 24yrs can I refuse? If so what is the reasoning behind it
Whatdoyoumean - 28-Apr-20 @ 6:31 PM
My boss is forcing me onto 12 hour shift instead of Monday to Friday. I have to do nights shifts in the office on my own with lorry driver constantly walking in the office. 1. I dont not feel safe. 2. I dont not want to do shift work especially night. 3. My boss is now saying I agreed to this when he employed me. Ever though I left my last job because of night shifts. What can I do?
Ela - 24-Apr-20 @ 7:47 AM
We been told the normal day hours have change and will be put on 2 shifts, short term I can deal with it but I'm worried they're going to put this in place permanently. Can they do that?
Carl - 21-Apr-20 @ 6:28 AM
I work as support work and usually work 12 per week ( due to childcare for my daughter with special needs) After lockdown was announced I have offered to do my shifts as husband can help child care - albeit to tweak start times etc - but have offered to work - my problem is I have not been included on the rota - so not working= not being paid ... I heard somewhere I should still get paid as offering to work? Anyone know/help
Janer49 - 18-Apr-20 @ 9:13 AM
My employment is adding another shift, ive applied to change shifts, do I need to give a reason why ive changed shifts. We will be interviewed.
sweetaz - 17-Apr-20 @ 8:48 PM
I work for a private sector and have worked days for 3 years and now we have had to move departments I have been told I have to work some nights, I have an elderly person to care for at home but work say nights still stands, I'm getting stressed out over this
Lisa - 15-Apr-20 @ 11:06 AM
At work I am a permanent palletiser (for 20 years) and whenever I have a disagreement with the line leader (he's been leader for about 2 years and I've no problems before with past and present other line leaders) he often says "Do you want put on packing?" or "Do you want sent on your break?". I've heard he says similar things to other staff when he gets angry. Is he allowed to forcibly change your job at work even though your not doing anything wrong in the job your doing at the time?
Gaz - 11-Apr-20 @ 1:08 PM
My employer changed my shift in last minute, only to found out that I have a child to look after at home so I won't be able follow the schedule and I informed my employer. Is it fair for my employer tosay I was absent on those certain days while doing arrangements for someone to look after my child?
Lovers - 7-Apr-20 @ 4:37 AM
I have been working on 3rd shift for yrs. And Fri/Sat morning my supervisor says I'm to come in on 1st Monday morning?? Can he do that? I'm in union but everyone is pointing to everyone else.. Telling me to call Shop Stewart then he tells me to call 1st shift supervisor. Meanwhile I stuck using all my time because I have to stay home w kids& sick elderly....anyone who has ever had tis happen Help..
Kert - 7-Apr-20 @ 4:15 AM
I work for a food service company. They have decided to reduce the number of days we deliver during the corona virus outbreak. This means they want me to share a van with someone I don't normally work with to learn their route, ensuring both routes can be covered if one of us becomes ill. Can you tell me if I would be within my rights, due to the social distancing regulations, to refuse.
chunky - 1-Apr-20 @ 10:15 AM
My employer, the NHS, want us all to move onto night rotation whereas before our shifts were days only. I’ve never been able to do nights and at 62 am not gonna start now. Employers have so little regard for their employees.
Whydoineedone - 31-Mar-20 @ 10:03 AM
My husband has worked for a large Supermarket for 12 years, for the past 5 years (at least) he has worked 4am to 10am, now for some reason they have changed his shifts to two 4am starts & 3 12pm - 6pm, whether he is working or not he gets up early (he's tried to sleep later but can't) by the time he starts work at 12pm he'll be ready to rest not work) surely especially while we're in a Pandemic his hours should stay the same, his immunity system will be low making it easier to catch an illness. Are managers really so stupid that they'd do this?
Jules - 30-Mar-20 @ 11:54 AM
Being moved temporarily from night shift to days and employer has stated that I will lose my night shift allowance.
Ginner - 27-Mar-20 @ 8:46 AM
Myself and my husband work for the same employer and have done for years now. I have a new line manager and she dislikes me for no reason. She is moving me shift so that I work totally opposite from my husband. What can I do about this. She is not good at listening Thanks
Karen - 25-Mar-20 @ 4:30 PM
I was working the night shift now with this virus I been made to go onto days where there is alot more people working there. The employees are not staying 2 meters apart aswell. I was born with a hole in my heart so I think I mite be high risk to this virus but I can afford to go on sick pay. Any advice?
Tigga - 24-Mar-20 @ 11:07 PM
My employer is trying to for me to go to nights and I've been the day shift for 3 years now going on 4years they also tried to force us to sign papers agreeing to the night shift change what should I do?
Q - 20-Mar-20 @ 12:14 PM
I was working for this company for 20 years as a manager we recently separated 2 managers and now they want me to go to 3rd shift, can I refuse and what legal rights do I have.
Dj - 18-Mar-20 @ 10:27 PM
Due to the coronavirus consortio security want me to start at 4 40 till 9 in the morning every day because iqstaff are in isolation, I'm really worried about it.There lives seem more important than ours
Glenn - 18-Mar-20 @ 7:22 PM
My 17yr old has been working 1to 2 nights a week For the past year and for the past 3 weeks He has told her that there is no work and left her off the weekly roster but tonight we went to her work to get dinner and there is a notification for Junior staff needed. She is gutted as it took a lot for her to conquer fears and disability to get this job as she is hi functioning autistic. Wish he we just give her some information as to what’s going on so she knows to start looking for another job
Jo - 16-Feb-20 @ 10:45 AM
When I started this job I filled out for first shift that's the shift i applied forI was available but then now because I don't want to be a cook after being promised a supervisor position she wants to put me on night shift without my consent is that legal
Meka - 3-Feb-20 @ 5:22 AM
Hi I usually work 2days day shift,2 days night shift and 2 days I take off,then I had appointment with someone in the afternoon my manager sent a new roster stated that I work dayshift for 4days and take off 2 days I informed him that I can't manage to work dayshift until further notice I got appointment with someone he agree to change the roster when I come to work in the afternoon someone was deployed and I was sent home,when I ask why he said I'm the fool I can't read the roster, at the end of the month R489,09 was deducted from my wages for being absent without a leave but I'm earning R235,00 per day.
Joeman - 1-Feb-20 @ 1:42 AM
I’m retiring but four weeks before I go their changing our hours and rota do I have to change even though I’m leaving .they do know I’m going as I put my notice in months ago they want to change me from permanent afternoons to mornings which I don’t want as I’ve done afternoons for 10 years and it’s a 7 o clock start
Jessie1 - 16-Jan-20 @ 10:13 AM
Hi..i have a varicose veins on my legs and now my boss has asked me to work night shifts which is 12 hours shift ive tried explaining to him about my situation but he doesn't understand he forces me to work night shift ive also tried to reason with him that i have two daughters a 5yrs oldand a 13yrs old which i need to look after but seems like he doesn't really care about my concern... What must i do?
Lala - 13-Jan-20 @ 8:37 PM
I work in care home for 5 years now I have a disabled child my shifts are 8/8 day and manager trying to change my shifts to 10/10 I told her I can’t do it and was told tuff is my manager aloud to do this as my son don’t like change plus he goes to bed at 9 so I can’t get anyone to look after him
Boo - 29-Dec-19 @ 6:48 PM
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