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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 23 Sep 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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I usually work night shift from 20:00 to 8:00. This happened after the new rules from the prime minister saying everything shuts at 22:00. Can the management change my shifts to day shift if I am not ok with it.
Shaba - 23-Sep-20 @ 7:02 PM
Hi, so about 2 months ago we were all told that’s we would have to pick a shift to work on either lates (which I’ve been working for the past 3 years as that’s the only shift that it has been) or nights (which they are starting up due to this whole corona virus). They did get enough volunteers to do nights so they’re making us work two weeks of lates and 2 weeks of nights. I really didn’t want to work nights as I have before for another company for 7 years and of had enough (part of the reason I went for this job) it’s making me depressed and I feel cut off from everyone. What’s even worse is they haven’t even paid us our night rate this month, so there is no benefit at all to working the nights. I don’t know what to do. I know I could just leave my job but it’s not a great time to be doing that. I really need some advise. Thank you
Char - 21-Sep-20 @ 3:36 PM
Can my employer allocated me my rota, now I've noticed they have took 2 of my sleeping off me and gave to another member of staff , can they do this without notifying me
Ethel - 20-Sep-20 @ 7:34 AM
I started my job had interview they told me 9to530 i start oh its 6to like 330 ok then changed it again 8to pretty much 8 12 hr shifts not what i signed up for if i knew that i would have not taken the job
Tj - 18-Sep-20 @ 11:11 AM
Can my employer change my shifts without discussing it with me first??
Ek - 9-Sep-20 @ 11:26 AM
My work keeps Texting me on the day to day I've got to do the late, I've explained and said I've got no childcare!? I'm also not allowed to take my child to the same nursery but another lady is, is this fair? What can my work do to me if have no childcare?
Lish - 21-Aug-20 @ 7:53 AM
If someone quit because they are illegally in the United States can they come back and get the hours they had before even though they have been given to me
Non - 21-Aug-20 @ 1:56 AM
My manager is trying to force me into changing my shifts. For the last 2 years I have been doing 11-4 Monday-Friday but now they want me to do Wednesday-Saturday, I’ve told me I don’t want to do it and they said I haven’t got a choice. Can they do that?
Kayla - 17-Aug-20 @ 3:09 PM
I suffer with severe GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) My husband put in a request to not do night shifts anymore due to me not having anyone around if I’m to have an attack however, they blankly outright said no he is a fully flex manager and isn’t allowed such requests. Can they do this? His request was to not work from the hours of 1am-5am. I end up ringing him every night shift due to having an attack.
3001soph - 9-Aug-20 @ 1:54 PM
I'm having to caring for someone who is shielding, so need to know when I'm free to run errands, however I work for an agency and am currently placed at a large distribution centre. Despite requesting for advance notice of shifts I haven't had a reasonable response. I work the 1430-2200 shift and don't usually find out whether I'm working until the evening bofehand, although it can be as late as mid morning the same day. They won't even provide me with a confirmation of when I definately won't be working, so I can make arrangements around that. Is there a minimum period of notice that must be given before the start of a shift
WarehouseMonkey - 25-Jul-20 @ 5:36 PM
After 15 years they want to change my shiftsfrom 7-7 to 10-6. 6-2. 2-10 can they do that
Taff - 22-Jul-20 @ 7:14 PM
hi both my partner and I were locked down In Spain and the company we work for in the UK still traded and have refused to furlough us is this legal. also when we go back to work there is a chance we will have to do our hours over 4 days and not 3 as we do now. how much notice do they have to give us to change shifts??
tez - 20-Jul-20 @ 9:36 AM
So I work for a company in my contact itvsaid work 37.5 hrs a week. When I had my interview the shifts I was told was 8am to 8pmand work 1 in 4vweekends which is fine I have no issues with that at all and I get the train to work.The company axpandg and we had a meeting via zoom via to inform up that the office hrs are changing to stat from 6am to 11pm my first train of the day is 06:30 and my last train in 23:15 its a ten minute walk from the office to the train station also i has a autistic child so a routine is important to him. What are my rights
k - 16-Jul-20 @ 9:17 AM
I have a new employee that started working for me on the 4th of july, she already has a part time job of 16 hours. I have also offered her 16 hours. Her employer has now started to rota her in on her days off which is the days she works for me, he is also dropping comments such as get your priorities right you were here first. She usually does mainly days, I mainly need her on a night, but now her boss is not giving her any advance on shifts, she also needs to sort childcare for her 3 year old .he is making her shifts longer so she can't attend her job here with me, I have spoken to him to see if we can work together and he said no. Can he behave this way?
CJ - 14-Jul-20 @ 12:37 PM
I was furloughed on the 17th of April and now I'm told I have to relocate to another factory as the one I worked at is closing and the only shifts they have are 2-10 my original shifts where 7am till 3pm which suited me as I would be home b4 my son finishes school I told them I want earlier shift of 6-2 and was told they had no spaces so they said I can do a 6-2 2-10 Monday to Friday which I'm still not happy about its messes your sleep pattern up they employ agency staff on early shifts do I have any rights please can you help
Treacle - 4-Jul-20 @ 3:39 PM
Hi when I filled in my application form for work I said I could not work weekends now after five years my employer is making me work sundays what are my rights
Di - 2-Jul-20 @ 2:15 PM
When CoVid19 started spreading in our state, scools had sent us information about the distance learning. I had scheduled a day off to help my kids get situated not realizing that my kids would have to constantly refer to the teacher communication app to find the work they have to do. I got in contact with my boss to see if I could work 2nd shift until school was over and then go back onto 1st shift. Unfortunately with 5 weeks left of school I was not getting enough sleep so I requested for Family Leave which was approved. During the end of schoolyear my wife was scheduled to have an operation which she would be out of work for 6 to 8 weeks. I notified my boss that I would extend my family leave for 2 more weeks. But now they are telling me that I will continueworking 2nd shift. I asked HR as to why do I have to continue working 2nd shift if my hours are for 1st shift. He says that he would have talk it over with my boss. I even explained to him that when school starts back upin the Fall that I need to work 1st shift since my kids will be going back to school and they would need help with their homework and projects. What can I do, I was trying to do the right thing, but now it seems like they don't appreciate the sacrifice I made for my kids and my job.
Concerned Parent - 1-Jul-20 @ 6:04 PM
My employer gives me a late notice about shifts. The shift is 6-2pm and i recieve a text message or phone call between 2am-4am, everyone else get theirs the afternoon/night on the day before.
HiByeBillyBob - 26-Jun-20 @ 6:44 AM
My employer just told me on wednesday that starting next week monday they are taking away 3 rd shift and forced to work first shift hours 8am to 4pm legally is this enough notice ? What if this doesnt work for some employees and have to quit due to this would they be eligible for unemployment. ?
Pickens - 19-Jun-20 @ 10:31 AM
I am Bus Driver, and in our depot they provide a rota of 20 weeks, so based on that, my wife which days she will be available for work in the hospital. My issue is that now, my manager is changing my rota weekly, and change my resting days programmed for the 20 weeks. Now me and my wife are scheduled to work on same days and hours (Long Days), and we're struggling in take/pickup our childs to/from school. My manager suggested to me go to talk to my drivers colleagues a swapping shift to every single day I will have problem with. the problem is that some weeks it means 3 of 4 days shift. Thank you.
Phos45 - 18-Jun-20 @ 5:36 AM
I got furloughed on March and they are forcing me to come back for second shift when i worked for 4 years on first I'm unable to work second shift 3pm to 12am due to interfere with my child visitations they are telling me that i have to work second shift or my job will no longer need me is there anything i can do ? Is this somthing they can do
Izzy - 8-Jun-20 @ 6:40 PM
Hi I work early and late shifts and have shift allowance if I'm brought back to work no days am I still intitled to the shift allowance
Ellie - 7-Jun-20 @ 2:03 PM
After coming back from furlough, our 2 shifts (night's and days) have been rolled in to one day shift due to lack of work,, does my company need to give me 13 weeks notice of shift change,,and do they have to keep continuing to pay me for the nights I would have worked if it was a normal week. There has been no agreement with the workforce,,we were just told what we will be working until further notice.
Speedyred - 4-Jun-20 @ 8:25 PM
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
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