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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 21 Jul 2017 | 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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Hi, I have worked for same company for 4 yrs and had the same shifts for this period of time. I work predominantly nights with a night allowance. My employer has asked me to work 1pm until 9 pm and would therefore loose my night allowance. They have given no logical reason for this. I believe (although no proof) they are trying to get rid of me in a round about way by me loosing pay and I wouldn't see my family until the weekend because of their work commitment & sch. This situation is making me ill and although the union is involved I don't feel they understand the impact this will have on my family life. Please advise ! Thankyou
Doodle - 21-Jul-17 @ 4:42 PM
I woke up to a text saying my start time had now been put back to midnight as aposed to 7pm I rang my manager and said it was too late I'm up he told me due to customer needs he couldn't do nothing about it - so I rang my union office up and was told different I rang my transport manager and explained that I had planned my sleep to start at 7 and finish 6am and now being told to start at midnight was putting myself and others at risk due to fatigue and as I could not possibly go back to sleep having already slept for 9 hours I told him I will put this in writing on the advice of my union office he told me he would get back to me and 10 mins later I got a call from planning saying come in at 7pm - result guys
downton driver - 21-Jul-17 @ 3:31 PM
The store I work in decided to have later opening times closing at 10pm instead of 8pm. I have a contract that States I Finnish at 8.30 pm. The trouble is my manager said all evening staff have to cover lates. It's getting home for us all that is the problem no buses. One girl worked miles home putting her self at risk. We have to veg for lifts of people then they have to be out out because they have to travel further. One girl has to get her aunt to fetch her in the car she has to wake her child up to go with her because she is a single parent its all so incovenent. No matter how many hours a shop opens there is no more money about. Supermarkets are now so greedy. One collegue said she would like a boyfriend she is young but says she won't meet one when she is stuck at work till 10.30 on a Saturday night every week.
Locket - 19-Jul-17 @ 2:10 AM
When I started my job 4 years ago, I was taken on on a variable contract. I was told when my rota was first discussed that I would be working two weekends a month. This continued up until three months ago when all our work patterns were changed without discussion and I now find that in September I am working 4 out of 5 weekends. How does this relate to 'custom and practice' and 'a right to family life'? Do I have any case?
Queen Bee - 17-Jul-17 @ 6:13 PM
My employer basically changed my shift without telling me, before I was even there. I was scheduled 4-11 for a serving position. I had a coworker of mine begging me for my shift that day, but I didn't give it to her because I needed the money and it was a Saturday night. I walked in and learned that my coworker pointed out that we didn't have a second host for the day and he gave my shift to her and made me host because I have past experience.
MJ - 16-Jul-17 @ 11:28 AM
My employee wants to change my working pattern from a 4 on 4 off shift pattern to working 5 days per week, they are not changing my pay but I don't want to change as I've been doing this for 6 years what are my rights to refuse ?
Win - 14-Jul-17 @ 11:02 AM
I get 2-3 weeks rota of days and times I av to work I av a child that is on Dal in he's cares so I take pictures of my Rotas and also write then in a diarey so if my partner is not able to watch my childI get a sittershe checks diary so she nos wen lookin after my son dose my boss av the right to change these Rotas without askin meall I get is it's ur responsibility to check everydayto see if there's changes
Tray - 13-Jul-17 @ 11:47 PM
New manager has taken over my daily scheme as well as another one just around the corner, I have been told that a few workers get on my current team will be going to support the 2nd scheme with sleep-ins, this week I have been placed on 3/4 sleeps one on one off. This is making me very anxious as I have not workerd in the 2nd scheme very much. What are my options/ rights on this? As I have medical issues regarding anxiety and not being able to sleep very well.
Durb - 10-Jul-17 @ 9:02 AM
My employer says I have to go on call one week in every 3 but as I have to have my children every other week I've told him I can't do this, can I refuse or will i have to do what I'm asked to do
bez - 9-Jul-17 @ 7:41 PM
My employer says I have to go on call one week in every 3 but as I have my children every other week I am unable to do this, can I refuse or will I have to do as im asked
bez - 9-Jul-17 @ 7:37 PM
delilah - Your Question:
Hi.After working on nights for four years I've been put on days.How long are my wages protected for.Thanks.

Our Response:
This will depend on the terms of your contract. There's no automatic right to extra pay for working night shifts, but many employers will offer it as an incentive. If your contract doesn't say that you will be working specifically nights or days, then you can expect to be asked to work either.
SafeWorkers - 4-Jul-17 @ 11:39 AM
Daz - Your Question:
Hi I ask my employer for a transfer from nights to days about 7 months ago and still no response what can I do next

Our Response:
Speak to your employer in person? All employers must give consideration to a request for a change in hours/flexible working hours but doesn't have to agree to it.
SafeWorkers - 4-Jul-17 @ 10:32 AM
Hi.After working on nights for four years I've been put on days.How long are my wages protected for.Thanks.
delilah - 3-Jul-17 @ 1:32 PM
Hi i ask my employer for a transfer from nights to days about 7 months ago and still no response what can i do next
Daz - 2-Jul-17 @ 9:44 PM
Jj - Your Question:
My employer is telling me I will be changing my hours and will now be starting at 5 am instead of 9am which does not suit due to health reasons I have been with the small business for 25 years and he will not listen when I tell him I can't do it can he force me to work that shift I have never had a contract

Our Response:
Even if you've never been supplied with a "paper" contract, a contract exists between you and your employer because you have worked for him and he has paid you. If you have been working the same hours/shift for 25 years, your employer and you have nothing to the contrary, you can assume these hours constitute part of your contract. Your employer needs your consent to change your contract. Here is more information about Objecting to Changes in Your Contract
SafeWorkers - 27-Jun-17 @ 1:54 PM
Melsky - Your Question:
I have a new boss at work and he has brought in a new manager for my section. He has given her the same days off as me. Sunday's and Monday's. Now he wants me to change my days off to accommodate her. They are also friends out side of work and have worked together before. He has a reputation of going into places bringing in lots of people he has worked with before making lots of changes and causing havoc then leaving. Can he force he to change my days off

Our Response:
Are you days off written into your contract? If so, they cannot be changed without your consent and you can take action- see our article on Objecting to changes in an employment contract here . If your contract says your days can be changed then you should ask your employer about this and see if they are willing to negotiate a compromise.
SafeWorkers - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:49 PM
My employer is telling me I will be changing my hours and will now be starting at 5 am instead of 9am which does not suit due to health reasons I have been with the small business for 25 years and he will not listen when I tell him I can't do it can he force me to work that shift I have never had a contract
Jj - 25-Jun-17 @ 10:09 PM
I have a new boss at work and he has brought in a new manager for my section . He has given her the same days off as me . Sunday's and Monday's . Now he wants me to change my days off to accommodate her . They are also friends out side of work and have worked together before . He has a reputation of going into places bringing in lots of people he has worked with before making lots of changes and causing havoc then leaving . Can he force he to change my days off
Melsky - 24-Jun-17 @ 6:20 AM
LT1_1996 - Your Question:
My boss put me on nights with a 3 hr notice. Ive told her I cant do nights. I keep getting same response, "its the best shift for me" district manager tells me, "we have to do whats best for the company".

Our Response:
You need to check your contract. Does it mention any notice period for shift changes? Does it say you should not work night shifts etc?
SafeWorkers - 8-Jun-17 @ 2:00 PM
My boss put me on nights with a 3 hr notice. Ive told her i cant do nights. I keep getting same response, "its the best shift for me" district manager tells me, "we have to do whats best for the company".
LT1_1996 - 7-Jun-17 @ 2:40 AM
Hi I've just been given a new contract at work and it now states that I'm a night shift worker monday-thursday night's 10-8 . Can i now be moved onto days if my contract states I'm a night shift worker or am I obliged to stay on nights as my contract confirms me as a night worker ?
Tuck - 1-Jun-17 @ 9:04 PM
My employer is moving me shifts half way through the year. I am on Shift A they are moving me to shift B. I have a period of 10 fixed days off every month as part of my shift pattern, this is considered to be part of my yearly holiday entitlement. I am also given 10 holiday days to take each year on top of this. As a result of being moved shifts events I have planned and would have been off for in my 10 days off (weddings, birthdays, family events etc) on Shift A now fall on working days for Shift B. Employer is saying I can work overtime to accrue extra hours above the normal 10 holiday days a year. I don't think this is fair as I am being moved at the companies request as they haven't recruited/trained people quick enough to cover my role on Shift B so I am being moved there to cover the role. I am effectively having to work extra hours in order to get the time off I originally had off anyway without having to take any leave. Am I entitled to have this leave honoured with no detriment to myself?
Bob Hope - 27-May-17 @ 11:32 PM
I've been working the night shift for 9 months and I recently handed in my notice as I was in the hospital for a bit and my body can no longer handle the night shift. I explained this to my boss and he said I could switch to day shift instead with a week max of night shift. This was over a month ago and I just was put on day shift for two days and I'm back on night shift again. Can I refuse or Atleast bring them to my point!
Shannon - 25-May-17 @ 9:44 PM
Aaronk - Your Question:
My employer has changed my shift with only 24 hours notice. I have worked days for the past 2 years and now they want me to work a nightshift then have a day to recover then go back onto days? surely this is bad for the body and mind?? I will have my body clock messed about?

Our Response:
Unless your contract says otherwise, then yes, your employer can do this.If it's only a single night shift and then you're back on days, we assume it's covering for an absence and therefore the business needs it?
SafeWorkers - 25-May-17 @ 2:28 PM
My employer has changed my shift with only 24 hours notice. I have worked days for the past 2 years and now they want me to work a nightshift then have a day to recover then go back onto days? surely this is bad for the body and mind?? i will have my body clock messed about?
Aaronk - 24-May-17 @ 2:11 AM
Lavia - Your Question:
I have a question? I work for a Restaurant and when I first started I was working overnight Shift and now they put me on mornings which is good. But one of my co worker is in Jail and they Scheduled me to cover his Shift. For example I worked today at 9am till 3 pm and they Scheduled me to work overnight that same day from 11pm till 5:00 and then they got me scheduled again at 9 am till 4pm. but I Refuse to work overnight. bottom line Is can they fired me for not working that Overnight Shift that is not even my Shift. thanks

Our Response:
We don't have information about your contract unfortunately. If it says your shifts can be varied then they can. You can't be made to work more hours per week than you are contracted to work however. Check the terms of your contract; if you think your employer is in breach of this follow the guidance in this article.
SafeWorkers - 19-May-17 @ 10:48 AM
I have a question? I work for a Restaurant and when I first started I was working overnight Shift and now they put me on mornings which is good. But one of my co worker is in Jail and they Scheduled me to cover his Shift. For example I worked today at 9am till 3 pm and they Scheduled me to work overnight that same day from 11pm till 5:00 and then they got me scheduled again at 9 am till 4pm. but I Refuse to work overnight. bottom line Is can they fired me for not working that Overnight Shift that is not even my Shift. thanks
Lavia - 18-May-17 @ 5:00 AM
Nicky - Your Question:
Hi I'm looking for some advice please, my son works nights Sunday,Monday & Wednesday 10pm till 7am his night manager has told him he has to do Monday, Wednesday & Friday nights. We don't feel this is right due to his health & safety. Has anybody got any advice? Thanks

Our Response:
What does his contract say? Is it not better to do Monday, Wednesday and Fridays as they are equally spaced?
SafeWorkers - 11-May-17 @ 9:57 AM
I have worked for the same company for over 10 years my contract stated to change my days off I will be given 1 weeks notice, I was advised 48 hours before my day off that the business will be closed on Saturday and I need to swap my day of or work the time back if not willing to book it as a holiday. Is this correct
Kesh - 11-May-17 @ 7:35 AM
leanne - Your Question:
I don't have a contract but when I was given my casual employment I stated that I could only work school hours and when the children had visitation with the father. I have worked the same hours for 4 years and now my employer is taking shifts away from me to accommodate another worker. My employer was also aware that I am required by centrelink to work 15 hours per week as my children are school age. I have tried talking to him but he just says changes have to be made what do I do

Our Response:
If you have worked the same hours for 4 years, you do have a contract and your employer is obliged to provide you with a written statement as such. Find out what hours you are supposed your contract states. If you were originally taken on on a zero hours contract, that is likely to have changed status too if you have worked continously for the pass four years.
SafeWorkers - 9-May-17 @ 1:45 PM
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