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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 20 Feb 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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[Add a Comment]
Hi I work now 2 years and one of the employee has bin 2and half years and now he wants my few days of my shift and saying his seniority can do that take few days change them around can he do that im 32bj union it's that right
John - 20-Feb-17 @ 4:24 AM
ShellBellD - Your Question:
My mother has been employed by her current employer for the past 15 years working 6am-12.30pm. She also has a second job of an evening working 4pm-6.30pm which the morning employer have been aware of since she joined with them and this secondary wage is pivotal in ensuring her rent and utility bills are paid. The morning company are insisting that she changes her shift now to 2pm-8pm which would mean that she would have to give up the second job. Can they legally do this?

Our Response:
If she was originally contracted to work 6am -12.30pm then no, her employer cannot make her change her hours as this would be a breach of contract. If she was never given an written contract, she took on the role on the basis that she would be working 6am -12.30pm and she has been doing so since starting, then she can assume this forms her contract (in the absence of a written contract). If the contract states that hours/shifts can be changed, she will have less chance of refusing this, although "custom and practice" might come into play. Seek advice from Citizens' Advice or ACAS for more information.
SafeWorkers - 14-Feb-17 @ 12:20 PM
Our company a large motor trade PLC has recently moved the business to new premises which we are please with. However they now propose to change from Mon-Fri 8:30-5:00 40 hour week to a 4 day on 4 off which includes weekends that we currently are not doing. Furthermore this change will mean reduced holiday entitlement from 22 to 17.5 due to the time off balance. Where do we stand legally with this potential change?
Dre - 13-Feb-17 @ 7:36 PM
Gina - Your Question:
I have been working night shifts almost 1 n half years now. My new manager came n without asking put me on day shift n afternoon n given my nights to her favorite staff. Is it okay

Our Response:
Check your employment contract. If it says you can be asked to work different shifts, then yes your employer can do this. If you feel you are being discriminated against in any way you should make a formal representation to your employer to find out why.
SafeWorkers - 13-Feb-17 @ 2:31 PM
sam - Your Question:
Hi my question. I have worked for seven years with the company am currently with, from 8am to 4:30pm. Friday 10 of February the told me I will be working from 9:30am to 6pm no notice what so ever. I told my boss I have a part time job and he told me call and tell them I won't be in. Can they do this?

Our Response:
Check your contract. Does it give details of your hours and start and finish time?
SafeWorkers - 13-Feb-17 @ 2:19 PM
My mother has been employed by her current employer for the past 15 years working 6am-12.30pm.She also has a second job of an evening working 4pm-6.30pm which the morning employer have been aware of since she joined with them and this secondary wage is pivotal in ensuring her rent and utility bills are paid.The morning company are insisting that she changes her shift now to 2pm-8pm which would mean that she would have to give up the second job.Can they legally do this?
ShellBellD - 13-Feb-17 @ 9:56 AM
I have beenworking night shifts almost 1 n half yearsnow. My new managercame n without asking put me on day shiftnafternoon n given my nights to herfavorite staff. Is it okay
Gina - 12-Feb-17 @ 12:36 PM
Hi my question.. I have worked for seven years with the company am currently with, from 8am to 4:30pm. Friday 10 of February the told me I will be working from 9:30am to 6pm no notice what so ever. I told my boss I have a part time job and he told me call and tell them I won't be in. Can they do this?
sam - 12-Feb-17 @ 12:49 AM
Hi my work is changing shift patterns. So I work 6am to 3pm works out great for me because I have to pick my kids up at 3:30pm. Now the new shifts we was offered was 9pm to 6am or 1am to 10am. I gave my reasons to why I couldn't do them shifts. So on the 1 of February I received a letter saying they are changing the London operations and they inform me they have no other option than to terminate my contract of employment with them my last working days is the 4th of march.But if I re consider carrying out a shift with a start time between 9pm 1am. So is that ok to just try and force me to work nights? I have told them why I can't do and I just don't want to be a night worker Thank you
Ricky - 9-Feb-17 @ 5:44 AM
Hi I'm off work at the moment after becoming ill with rheumatoid arthritis. My manager has reduced my hours after an agreement on a back to work interview, I work 32 hours and reducing myhours to 25 per week, I don't really want to reduce but she said head office has made a decision . I'm waiting to see occupational health and I agreed to reduce them when I return to work. The problem is that I have been off 8 weeks and my manager has only been paying me for the part time hours of 25. Is she allowed to do this. I have been with the company for 22 years and feel like they are trying to get rid of me.
nannyg - 5-Feb-17 @ 7:37 PM
I work in care and my contract says days and nights bt I've been put on permanent nights without being asked.they are short staffed bt I'm nt sure they cn do this without asking me.I cannot do permanent nights as they make me ill (depression).I have told them before bt need to one where I stand
fluffy - 1-Feb-17 @ 2:09 AM
I work 4 on 4 off rota I recently was asked to move my rota 2days forward which my boss knows I can't do as I have a disabled adult son who requires 24hour care and his care package isn't flexible my boss isn't pleased so she has told me I will need to go and work in a different team with a supervisor who is a bully people are scare of this person and won't report her I can't work under these conditions I have been summoned to a meeting on Friday with my union rep and my manager and H R worker
Jac - 31-Jan-17 @ 4:41 PM
Ive been told to work shorter hours but my colleagues stay on full time. Is my employer allowed to do this? Should he offer me redundancy first? Thanks
Dix - 30-Jan-17 @ 9:35 AM
Good afternoon. I work for the Royal mail, as a postie, for 32 hours a week. Although the role is considered part time, I have been working for the Royal mail for 18 months now. My shift pattern has been, up until now, a four day week. However, I have been advised that they are moving me onto five days a week, keeping the same number of weekly hours. My question is: can they do this without any consultation at all? Equally, I will be incurring additional costs, as I will have to make additional journeys by car to and from work. I will be expected to out on the street delivering mail five days a week now, instead of what is currently four. I will receive no additional pay for this, as my hours will remain the same. To explain: I usually begin work at 5am and work inside, (processing the mail and additionally, sorting my own daily workload/mail/packages), until I load my van to go out onto the street from 8:00am, until 1pm. My employer now expects me to begin work at 6:40am until 1pm, five days a week. I have been used to a Sunday off each week, plus two consecutive days off during the week. Of course, the intended shift pattern will still give me the Sunday off, but now only one day off during the week. These new intended hours will really affect my free time and furthermore, will restrict what I can do within that free time. This will also mean that I can never have a late night, as I will always be either recovering from an early 03:45 hours wake up, or will have to be up early the morning after a day off. My contract states the usual "hours to suit the buisness" clause, which makes me feel as though I don't have a leg to stand on here. Can anyone offer me some advice here? Can my employer just write me into this new shift pattern, begining next week, without any consultation, meeting or explaination? I look forward to hearing any advice. Thanks. Peter.
postie pete - 20-Jan-17 @ 2:11 PM
My employer recently hired staff for the new addition of a night team. At the time two colleagues volunteered to work a night shift to train them. Volunteers were requested for more night team training but none came forward, so my manager told me I'd be doing the night training. My contract states my shifts will include evening and weekend shifts, but doesn't specify what hours this includes. It also states that I must be flexible in working these shift patterns. Am I obliged to work a night shift from 7pm - 4am given the flexibility mentioned in my contract?
Helen - 20-Jan-17 @ 1:49 AM
Cotney - Your Question:
My boss has said to work night shift but iam a am shift manager as ny contact says can they do this

Our Response:
Check the full details of your contract. If it states you only work a morning shift, then your consent is needed if your employer wants you to work an alternative.
SafeWorkers - 18-Jan-17 @ 1:51 PM
Hi, Hoping you can help. Am managing a reception team and we noticed we had surplus staff one evening so asked if one employee could come in an hour earlier and leave an hour later on this day which they agreed. This was about 2 months ago. Now, one of the evening staff on this shift has submitted a flexible working request to no longer work this shift due to not having childcare. We have assumed we could place the first employee back onto her previous shift but she is refusing. No contract was changed as her contractual hours haven't changed. He contract states she will be required to fill her hours with what the business needs but is this change now implied as her regular hours? Or since it was agreed, is this a verbal contract? Employee hasn't given a reason other than she has made outside obligations. Thanks in advance
kayla - 17-Jan-17 @ 10:39 PM
shanna - Your Question:
Looking for advice, been working in same company 10 yrs retail availability down as 9am til 6pm but get mostly given shift at 11-3pm.single parent of school age child, no childcare apart from my mum a pensioner not of good health. Rota been put up for end of this month and 1 shift I'm to start at half 8 which I can't do as would mean leaving child outside school gates alone at 8.20am as don't have place at breakfast club, where to I stand in not doing this shift thanks

Our Response:
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. You can make aformal request for hours to suit your childcare arrangements. Your employer must this due consideration and provide a good business reason if they refuse.
SafeWorkers - 17-Jan-17 @ 12:31 PM
My boss has said to work night shift but iam a am shift manager as ny contact says can they do this
Cotney - 17-Jan-17 @ 9:55 AM
Looking for advice, been working in same company 10 yrs retail availability down as 9am til 6pm but get mostly given shift at 11-3pm.single parent of school age child, no childcare apart from my mum a pensioner not ofgood health. Rota been put up for end of this month and 1 shift I'm to start at half 8 which I can't do as would mean leaving child outside school gates alone at 8.20am as don't have place at breakfast club, where to i stand in not doing this shift thanks
shanna - 16-Jan-17 @ 2:24 PM
Ged - Your Question:
I work as a nurse my employer is saying when 2 nurses are on shift one must work 12 hrs as a carer. Can I be made to do this?

Our Response:
What are the details of your job description and contract? We can't really comment without know these.
SafeWorkers - 13-Jan-17 @ 2:30 PM
I work as a nurse my employer is saying when 2 nurses are on shift one must work 12 hrs as a carer. Can I be made to do this?
Ged - 12-Jan-17 @ 1:41 AM
My boyfriend is working 3rd shift (5pm-5am) 12hr shifts as a security officer. He is union and they are changing his shift in the middle of a work week to second (9am-9pm) leaving 4hours between his 2 shifts it that even legal?
Maranda - 9-Jan-17 @ 3:19 AM
I am currently working a regular day shift. I am a career for my disabled dad and share night sleep overs with my sister. Now my employers are changing the shifts to twighlights. 2am finishes which I will not be able to do as my commitment to my dad. Can you give my some advice on we're I stand on this situation as I have already had advise saying this is an unreasonable request but they once again trying bully tactics
Deb - 5-Jan-17 @ 11:40 PM
I was hired on as a full time employee not to rotate to work morning shift. Now my boss has informed me that some employees are being made to rotate can they force you to do so?
Gerri - 30-Dec-16 @ 2:46 AM
Hi, great information! I have s question regarding my working hours, I work shifts some a very long and others short, just reseantly have a shift in rota to start at 19:00 and finish at 22:30, 3.5 hours, I am a none driver, so depend on public transport, finishing at that time in the night, only have the train available, which departs st 23:20 and arriving at 23:30 at destination then I have a good 10 minutes walk home late at night, being a woman just a little afraid, also I am a lone parent, my question is if there is a law on a set finishing time and any latter will the company be responsible to provide safe transport of the cost of such eg taxi.? Thanks.
Ma'at - 28-Dec-16 @ 11:47 PM
I said no to working a holiday but changed my mind a few days after the schedule was posted. The day in question was still 2 weeks away at the time. Also I'm full time have seniority and I own the job (bid on it; working the same machine and department for 2 years now). They gave the day to lower seniority employees even tpts and students. Is this justified on such a long notice ? Are they breaking the law by taking away my hours?
Ml - 27-Dec-16 @ 11:46 PM
My boss want to change my schedule from first shift to second shift after 16 years can he do that
Adri - 27-Dec-16 @ 10:33 PM
We have worked the same shift pattern forten years 7 days on 4 off then 8 days on 2 off .. now we have been given a new rota and just 2 people have had there days off swapped to 8 on 4 off and 7 on.We have had no consultationand told this is how it is like it lump it or leave ..
wendy . - 18-Dec-16 @ 2:06 PM
TeZ - Your Question:
Hi I'm working on xmas day and following my set rota,my rota has been changed without asking me can I be made to work the shift they want me too?

Our Response:
If your contract does not state that you must be "asked" before your rota is changed then there won't be much you can do about this.
SafeWorkers - 8-Dec-16 @ 12:53 PM
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