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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 19 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Work Nights Day Shift Night Shift

Q.

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)

A.

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.

Communication

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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If anybody can advise please.. I work a 40 hour week with my contracting stating any 5 days of 7. For the past 18 months i have been on fixed hours of mon & tue finishing at 8pm and wed/fri 4pm finish, i have a few other commitments outside of work as i took a reduced salary to allow me to do these. however they now want me to do a changing rota every month so i wont know what my shifts are until a few weeks before, do i have any rights to my existing shifts or am i at the mercy of being rotated monh to month, what is the legal minimum notice required for changes to shifts also Many thanks
Jay - 19-Aug-18 @ 11:52 AM
I work in a nursing home and have for 3 years doing nights I’ve recently bin off sick and had a doctors not when I did my return to work Friday my manger told me that she is moving me onto days as from Monday so 2 days notice so my whole life style has had to change in two days. Is 2 days enough notice? Surely it can’t be I’ve had nothing in writing either please help.
Chels - 19-Aug-18 @ 10:25 AM
I work in care on days my employer has now said they are thinking of doing shift patterns to include nightshift i left nights for days when my children were grown they have said either 3 nights a week and one day shift or one month of each to include earlies lates and nights can i refuse to do nights as it is not in my contract yet
Luna39 - 14-Aug-18 @ 6:25 PM
Kirsty Ovenden - Your Question:
I have a 0hour contract it's Friday evening and have been told I have a new rota coming for tomorrow morning to do extra work can I rightfully refuse it.

Our Response:
Yes on a zero hours contract you should be able to accept and refuse work when you want.
SafeWorkers - 14-Aug-18 @ 10:02 AM
jes25 - Your Question:
I was given a rota of my hours for this week showing that I have not got to work today, I was called to ask why I had not turned in for work as the rota had been changed and I was not notified. Apparently the changes were put on the notice board but I was not personally notified yet. I was also told that as I was in work the day before I should have checked the board and as I am now unable to work the hours it is going down as an unauthourised abscence where do I stand

Our Response:
What is your employer's policy about checking the rota? Do you have to be in work to check it? Could you supply more information.
SafeWorkers - 13-Aug-18 @ 12:19 PM
I was given a rota of my hours for this week showing that i have not got to work today, I was called to ask why I had not turned in for work as the rota had been changed and I was not notified. Apparently the changes were put on the notice board but I was not personally notified yet.I was also told that as I was in work the day before i should have checked the board and as I am now unable to work the hours it is going down as an unauthourised abscence where do I stand
jes25 - 12-Aug-18 @ 1:14 PM
I have a 0hour contract it's Friday evening and have been told I have a new rota coming for tomorrow morning to do extra work can I rightfully refuse it.
Kirsty Ovenden - 10-Aug-18 @ 4:37 PM
Pete - Your Question:
Hi, I currently work a 24/7 (continental) shift pattern, my wife works permanent mornings. I have been given my notice (which is within the contract) that my shifts are changing which are going to severely effect my ability to attain childcare as I would require childcare from 4:30am 5days. If there are other areas on site with no change in my job title that can accommodate my needs is there any form of responsibility from the employer to allow me to move areas due to having childcare needs?

Our Response:
You can apply for flexible working for hours that better suit your lifestyle. Your employer has to give your request due consideration and must give a valid business reason for refusing. See our guide here which explains flexible working inmore detail
SafeWorkers - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:54 PM
bakekang- Your Question:
Hi,I work on a shift pattern,I normally work day shifts but if my colleagues who are normally on night shifts are in annual leave I have to be put on night shifts.does the employer need to get my agreement to do night shifts?if so do they have to give me notice and how long?I refused to do night shifts because I can’t sleep properly during the day but they still put me on.Advise please.thanks.

Our Response:
This all depends on your contract. Unfortunately as we don't have details of this, it's very difficult for us to advise.
SafeWorkers - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:39 PM
Weetabix - Your Question:
I applied for flexible working from mornings to nights due to helping my daughter with her 2children who are under 3 in a morning as this is her most hectic time time and finds it difficult to cope as one of her children has talapies and requires a lot of physio. I was granted my flexible working and things are working out great but now they are telling me I have to go back to mornings for no apparent reason. They operate a seniority selecment and there is a revision of jobs so all jobs are on seniority I have been told my flexible working is going to be reviewed and if I require nights my only option is to do a duty swop with someone on nights,even though there are vacant duties and are covered by agency workers.i fund this unreasonable. Can they do this

Our Response:
Once consent is given following a flexible working hours application, your employer must change the terms and conditions in your contract. If your employer wants to change your contract they must get your consent first. If you object to the changes there are some steps you can take. Please see our guide to Objecting to changes in your contract for more information.
SafeWorkers - 10-Aug-18 @ 11:23 AM
Hi, I currently work a 24/7 (continental) shift pattern, my wife works permanent mornings. I have been given my notice (which is within the contract) that my shifts are changing which are going to severely effect my ability to attain childcare as I would require childcare from 4:30am 5days. If there are other areas on site with no change in my job title that can accommodate my needs is there any form of responsibility from the employer to allow me to move areas due to having childcare needs?
Pete - 10-Aug-18 @ 6:31 AM
Hi,I work on a shift pattern,I normally work day shifts but if my colleagues who are normally on night shifts are in annual leave I have to be put on night shifts.does the employer need to get my agreement to do night shifts?if so do they have to give me notice and how long? I refused to do night shifts because I can’t sleep properly during the day but they still put me on. Advise please.thanks.
bakekang - 9-Aug-18 @ 9:48 PM
I was recruited to start a new job and one of the conditions stipulated was an afternoon shift. Which I agreed to and a working shift of 7.5 hours sun - Thurs. My contract states 5 out of 7 days. However during my interview process I was clear in saying I can cover however it wouldn't be every weekend as Fridays and Saturdays I have child care commitments. I have now had my probation review and it has been extended due to me not changing to a tues- sat shift to cover a lack of managers. I have moved a minimum of a day a week around to support the business and have been as flexible as possible. This has stopped my initial salary increase. This has had a detrimental effect on my life for obvious reasons. I have been with the company for over 26 weeks, however I was promoted internally which means I have to pass a probation period again. Is all of this legal?.
Squall - 9-Aug-18 @ 11:13 AM
I applied for flexible working from mornings to nights due to helping my daughter with her 2children who are under 3 in a morning as this is her most hectic time time and finds it difficult to cope as one of her children has talapies and requires a lot of physio. I was granted my flexible working and things are working out great but now they are telling me I have to go back to mornings for no apparent reason. They operate a seniority selecment and there is a revision of jobs so all jobs are on seniority I have been told my flexible working is going to be reviewed and if I require nights my only option is to do a duty swop with someone on nights,even though there are vacant duties and are covered by agency workers.i fund this unreasonable . Can they do this
Weetabix - 8-Aug-18 @ 5:42 PM
Nels - Your Question:
Hi. I been working for this company for a year now. And I work in icu and I was hired there. Now problem is I been changed to other ward and I been told that my allowance is going to be taken away and my shirf is been changed

Our Response:
What does your contract say? Please see the above article and the guides here and here for more help in the absence of detailed information from you.
SafeWorkers - 7-Aug-18 @ 3:34 PM
Debs - Your Question:
Hi. My employer has lowered my working hrs over the past 12 months from 19.75 to 13.75, but now expects me to work over 5 days with 1 day at 1hr and another at 1.5hrs. I have asked for flexible working but been declined both by HR and appeal to my manager. I have worked for the company for 15years. What are my rights?

Our Response:
What does your contract say? Sorry we can't really address this without more information.
SafeWorkers - 7-Aug-18 @ 12:15 PM
Hi. I been working for this company for a year now. And I work in icu and I was hired there. Now problem is I been changed to other ward and I been told that my allowance is going to be taken away and my shirf is been changed
Nels - 6-Aug-18 @ 2:32 PM
When I am working an afternoon shift sometimes on my last day I get called and told to come in nights, do I have any rights or how much notice should I be given?
Hero122 - 5-Aug-18 @ 5:04 PM
Hi. My employer has lowered my working hrs over the past 12 months from 19.75 to 13.75, but now expects me to work over 5 days with 1 day at 1hr and another at 1.5hrs. I have asked for flexible working but been declined both by HR and appeal to my manager. I have worked for the company for 15years. What are my rights?
Debs - 5-Aug-18 @ 3:47 PM
whitby01 - Your Question:
Hi, My employer has told me that my current role in the company will now be moved to a permanent night shift. I have said I do not want to work nights, they say there is no option of redundancy, so they have offered me other roles in the company but working different days and hours to the ones in my current contract. Where do I stand legally, I beleive theyhave made me redundant by switching position to nights, is this correct?If I agreed to a different position within the company working different hours /days I wouldpressumably have to sign a new contract. So if I refuse, I would still be on my old contract, which I can not continue to do as they'vemoved my job to nights. Would this be a breach of contract on their part?I have worked for this company for nearly thirty years andI feel they are trying to make me just leave by my own volition so they dont have to pay me any redundancy. Any advice will greatfully received, thank you in advance.

Our Response:
What is in your contract? That's the crucial part. If your contract specifies particular times/days of work, your employer can't change these without your consent. If you employer needs to change your role because of business needs but the role is still there, then it may not be a case of redundancy at all. If it were a case of redundancy, your employer can still offer you ‘suitable alternative employment’ within your organisation. "Suitable" depends on the alternative role's similarity to your current job including status, hours and location. It sounds more likely to be a change in your contract terms in which are guide Objecting to Changes in Your Contract will be useful. You can also contact a union rep for advice or contact ACAS
SafeWorkers - 31-Jul-18 @ 2:24 PM
Hi, My employer has told me that my current role in the company will now be moved to a permanent night shift. I have said I do not want to work nights, they say there is no option of redundancy, so they have offered me other roles in the company but working different days and hours to the ones in my current contract. Where do I stand legally, I beleive they have made me redundant by switching position to nights, is this correct? If I agreed to a different position within the company working different hours /days I would pressumably have to sign a new contract. So if I refuse, I would still be on my old contract, which I can not continue to do as they've moved my job to nights. Would this be a breach of contract on their part? I have worked for this company for nearly thirty years andI feel they are trying to make me just leave by my own volition so they dont have to pay me any redundancy. Any advice will greatfully received, thank you in advance.
whitby01 - 30-Jul-18 @ 3:59 PM
mr blue sky - Your Question:
My friend works for a security firm. He works 10 days straight of nightshifts sometimes it seems that there is only two of them that seem to get them all the time and when he approached his manager about it he advised that the reason they get all the nightshifts is because of how close he lives to the job. I want to know of there is some for precedent here as I feel he is being discriminated against as he is young, a bit shy and lives closer than others. He just wants the night shifts split fairly with others. He gets paid no extra.

Our Response:
We aren't aware of any precedent cases like this, especially if there are no "protected characteristics" involved, where discrimination could be a factor. He should examine his contract to make sure there's nothing there that can be used. He could work out his average working time and rest breaks (between shifts) over the past few months to make sure he is working with the Working Time Regulation limits (night workers have more stringent criteria). Tell your friend to raise a grievance if he feels comfortable to do so, or to talk to Citizens' Advice or ACAS for more advice.
SafeWorkers - 30-Jul-18 @ 2:57 PM
Hi, My employer has told me that my current roll in the company will now be moved to a permanent night shift. I have said I do not want to work nights, they say there is no option of redundancy,so they have offered me other rolls in the company but working different days and hours to the ones in my current contract. Where do I stand legally, I beleive they have made my position redundant by switching it to nights, is this correct?And by not offering me the same days / hours somewhere else in the company have breached my contract. I have worked for this company for nearly thirty years andI feel they are trying to make me just leave by my own volition so they dont have to pay me any redundancy. Any advice will greatfully received, thank you in advance.
whitby01 - 28-Jul-18 @ 4:43 PM
Hey, I was working night shift since 2010 7days in 7 days off, one morning my supervisor finds me sleeping he took a picture of me sleeping. they then decided to take me off night to work day shift. recently they asking me to work night shift again and I refused. because they said their trust is broken.please help me am I wrong by refusing?
mdodo - 27-Jul-18 @ 10:56 PM
My friend works for a security firm. He works 10 days straight of nightshifts sometimes it seems that there is only two of them that seem to get them all the time and when he approached his manager about it he advised that the reason they get all the nightshifts is because of how close he lives to the job. I want to know of there is some for precedent here as I feel he is being discriminated against as he is young, a bit shy and lives closer than others. He just wants the night shifts split fairly with others. He gets paid no extra.
mr blue sky - 27-Jul-18 @ 12:26 PM
Mickey71 - Your Question:
I currently work a 12 hour shift pattern days and nights, I have seen rosters published until November 2018, I have had an email to advise me of a possible shift line change, no one has spoken with me or asked if I would be ok to swap shift lines, I have arrangements planned and paid for until November 2018 based on my current days off before the roster line change, does the employer have to speak with me to see if I am happy to swap shift lines and do they have to honour any requests I have made

Our Response:
This depends on your contract.If your contract states that you are available to work any time, unfortunately you can be called upon to work on different days/hours than your usual work pattern. If your availability has changed, you need to discuss this with your employer, and a new contract may need to be signed with this change reflected. The law doesn't give much information about notice require for shift allocations other than that it be "reasonable", so again, check your contract and see if there is anything relating to notice that your employer will give you in advance of shifts. Our guide gives more information
SafeWorkers - 27-Jul-18 @ 10:12 AM
I currently work a 12 hour shift pattern days and nights, I have seen rosters published until November 2018, I have had an email to advise me of a possible shift line change, no one has spoken with me or asked if I would be ok to swap shift lines, I have arrangements planned and paid for until November 2018 based on my current days off before the roster line change, does the employer have to speak with me to see if I am happy to swap shift lines and do they have to honour any requests I have made
Mickey71 - 26-Jul-18 @ 2:37 AM
Bex - Your Question:
I recently got demoted. However I worked day shift before taking voluntary demotion I presumed it would be on dayshift however my manager has put me onto permanent night shift. Is there anything I can do as night shift is not what I wish to do

Our Response:
What were the terms of the demotion? Did you get a new contract? Does your existing contact specify which shifts you work? Sorry we need more information
SafeWorkers - 25-Jul-18 @ 3:36 PM
I call in to work to say that I could not come in for the night shift as the person I had for child care let me down in the day and my manager told me I had to do the shift as it was to lat to get cover and this was at 12.45pm and my shift doesn’t start till 9pm on the night. Then I had a call today to say that they have taken me of my night shift for Saturday because I called in yesterday but can they do that to me.
Mr right - 25-Jul-18 @ 12:07 PM
I recently got demoted. However I worked day shift before taking voluntary demotion I presumed it would be on dayshift however my manager has put me onto permanent night shift. Is there anything I can do as night shift is not what I wish to do
Bex - 25-Jul-18 @ 2:26 AM
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