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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 7 Oct 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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Hi I’ve worked for the Winfield hospital for nearly 12 years for the last 10 years I’ve been doing the same shift become I write out a flexible working hours because I care for my mum well got a new boss in the last 2 years and he said he can’t find a letter and he won’t to change my shift it is stressing me out so bad I suffer from depression and under dr for migraine vertigo which I’m allowed to have 10 extra sick days of work I spoke to a x boss of mine and she said the letter was put in my personal folder but my new boss said there isent a letter I don’t no what to do I’m Of until next week been on hoilday and I no he’s going to change my shifts help please x
Lorna - 7-Oct-18 @ 9:52 PM
My branch manager has just told that I was suppose to be in on a Friday, but no rota was made the week before as it should. My manager said I'm contracted to do that day when I started there but my contract is hours not days.
Lister of smeg - 29-Sep-18 @ 12:32 PM
I have worked for a company for 9 years, when I started I had a 3 month probationary period and after I was informed my working week would be 20 hours per week Monday to Friday 6am to 10am this increased after two years to 25 hours 6am till 11 am and eventually 2 years ago it increased to 30 hours 6am till 12 am, each time my hours increased I just signed an amended contract and was never told that my working pattern would change and it as remained the same until this week, I arrived in work on Monday and was informed by my manager that I would have to request a flexible working arrangement for the days and hours I'm working, I've read up about flexible working and it says that you can request flexible working if you want to change your current working arrangement, I don't want to change anything I've worked this pattern for 9 years and happy with it, my contract only states my total hours and doesn't and never has specified days, however whenever I increased my hours I was verbally informed by each of the area managers that I would not be expected to work weekends and would continue with my normal working pattern Monday to Friday 6am till 10, 11, and currently 12 am, I take this as an emplied contract so do I have to apply for flexible working at all, please advise as I feel this is just the start of a new area managers quest to force me out as there are many other issues I've already had to deal with before this, also another employee does the same job as me in a different location and he hasn't been asked by my area manager even though it's under her location
Vitamin pill - 28-Sep-18 @ 12:11 AM
I have worked for a company for 9 years, when I started I had a 3 month probationary period and after I was informed my working week would be 20 hours per week Monday to Friday 6am to 10am this increased after two years to 25 hours 6am till 11 am and eventually 2 years ago it increased to 30 hours 6am till 12 am, each time my hours increased I just signed an amended contract and was never told that my working pattern would change and it as remained the same until this week, I arrived in work on Monday and was informed by my manager that I would have to request a flexible working arrangement for the days and hours I'm working, I've read up about flexible working and it says that you can request flexible working if you want to change your current working arrangement, I don't want to change anything I've worked this pattern for 9 years and happy with it, my contract only states my total hours and doesn't and never has specified days, however whenever I increased my hours I was verbally informed by each of the area managers that I would not be expected to work weekends and would continue with my normal working pattern Monday to Friday 6am till 10, 11, and currently 12 am, I take this as an emplied contract so do I have to apply for flexible working at all, please advise as I feel this is just the start of a new area managers quest to force me out as there are many other issues I've already had to deal with before this, also another employee does the same job as me in a different location and he hasn't been asked by my area manager even though it's under her location
Vitamin pill - 27-Sep-18 @ 12:56 AM
Hi I need some advice I have been working at a care home for 3 years working night shift, for the last two months my manager has changed my Rota to suit a colleague,my rota is always out a month in advance and co signed by the manager, when I have my days off I make arrangements only for me to have to cancel them because my colleague states she can't work then and asks the manager to change it, which the manager does without asking me or informing me of the changes, however when I speak to the manager I am told that I have to work that shift regardless if I have arrangements as I have been given plenty of notice, what can I do?
Trace - 21-Sep-18 @ 3:54 AM
Hello everyone , my employer is now asking me to cover night shifts for holidays ( not so happy to do that, I’ve got two kids to look after) My contract says : the hours may be varied from time to time as dictated by the reasonable needs of the company’s business . Also they would not pay same rate as they are paying the night colleague . Can I say no ?
Vlxxcam - 20-Sep-18 @ 7:45 PM
Hello I’ve just started working for a retail company as a visual merchandiser and I’ve been with them for about 3months now. So my issue is. When I had an inteview with them I told th that I don’t want to work on weekends reason being I’m a student and there is not much a visual can do on weekends. And they agreed. But now my contract says I need to work 8 hours a day and it must make up 45 hours in 6 days, but this is not he case because it sums up to 48 hours- (please note that the contract states that I will NOT be paid for working on weekends and public holidays) so this is a little confusing. I sent an email to HR regarding this and no one replied to my question. So I was then told to work my 45 hours from Monday to Friday which means I’d have to work 9 hours per day which adds up to 45 hours. Now I’m told that I need to work 10 consecutive days on a night shift which will be from 20:00 to 06:00 which equals 9 hours a day. My question is that, is this legal and I was told that it’s not a request It’s a demand? They don’t provide food or transport like the labpur act states. And there is nothing about night shift compensation on contract. Please help
Jules - 20-Sep-18 @ 6:00 PM
hello, I work for an architecture practice. my contract says: "Your working hours will be 40 hours per week. The Company may require you to vary the pattern of your working hours if required on a temporary or permanent basis should the needs of the post require this. Overtime payments are not paid. 5. Office hours are a minimum of 9.00am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday, including a one-hour lunch break.You may occasionally be asked to attend at other locations and times (including weekends) as part of your job task requirement or training." They now told me that I have to work Saturdays and have morning off during the week. Am I entitled to be paid more on Saturday? Is there a law that says that? I am asking since this is an office job.
Moon - 19-Sep-18 @ 9:53 PM
Orse - Your Question:
Hi,I'm working in a mall where I can do morning shift and night shift,but the manager are making me doing only morning shift as the company is not willing to pay for the transport,as I live 10 minutes after a colleague. Is it right?

Our Response:
This depends on your contract - what hoursyou were taken on to do etc. It's highly unusual for employers to pay for transport for employees to get to/from work.
SafeWorkers - 18-Sep-18 @ 2:30 PM
Hi,I'm working in a mall where I can do morning shift and night shift,but the manager are making me doing only morning shift as the company is not willing to pay for the transport,as I live 10 minutes after a colleague. Is it right?
Orse - 17-Sep-18 @ 3:51 PM
Hello. I have recently moved from one McDonalds store to a new one. I am availablable to work at all times through the week. In my old store I had good mix of shifts but in my new store I only work night shifts or through the day finishing 6pm earliest. The reason behind this is another manager who has worked for the store 10+ years can only work opens to spend time with their family. How is this fair that i can't spend time with my newborn and wife because I'm out the house every night? Is there anything I can do about this.
Godzilla - 10-Sep-18 @ 5:30 PM
mum24 - Your Question:
I’ve been in same job for over 13years, I’ve had a few changes in hours and weeks I work requested by employer over the years (I currently only work term time due to kids) but they’re asking me to work full time through holidays but the childcare charges will kill us in holidays so I just can’t do it! Do I have any rights and can I say no?

Our Response:
What are the details in your contract? If your contract is term time only, you can'tbe made to work the holidays without your consent. See our guide to objecting to changes in your contract
SafeWorkers - 10-Sep-18 @ 2:06 PM
hey i been work on my job for 12years on 1st shift and I'm a single parent of 2 kids my management change our hours 2 years ago to 12 hours shift it not work out for company so now we are goin back to 8 hour shifts. when I was on 12hours shift i work morning 6am til 6:30pm now they trying to force me to work 3rd shift a shift I never work and I no this not goin work for my family it like they tryin to force me to pick between my kids and my job is this legal? can they do this?
redd - 8-Sep-18 @ 5:11 PM
Hi, l have been with a company for 6.5 years. In the beginning I did early andlate shifts; however through health reasons for the last 3 years on both a consultant and GP advise I have been working only earlies. My company have now told me this can no longer carry on. I have to work lates or I no longer have a position the company. I have stated the risks of me working the late shift and whose head would it fall on if this risk happened, it was said mine. Have I been put in a corner to have to hand my notice in to this company?
Depre - 8-Sep-18 @ 12:28 PM
Do an employer have to pay me if they cancel my shift without notifying me and I shown up for my shift
Shawn00766 - 7-Sep-18 @ 8:28 PM
Hi I have been currently working with my employer now coming up on 14 years and the last 3 years I have been working on a night shift basis exclusively for the last 3 years with another 20 off employees,I work on a machine with another fellow employee with the same circumstances as myself regarding a young family and that's why working nights suits us both,we work 35 hours a week on nights while the rest of the factory work 37.5 hours,my boss has approached myself and said he needs to take one of us of the machine and move us onto a 2 shift rotation 7am-3pm and 3pm -12 midnight,can I be forced to do this as it will affect my home/family lifestyle and I will be also doing more hours than I'm currently doing and taking a drop in my wage as I'm currently on a night shift premium,any help or advice would be greatly appreciated please.
Gazzer - 5-Sep-18 @ 4:52 AM
I’ve been in same job for over 13years, I’ve had a few changes in hours and weeks I work requested by employer over the years (I currently only work term time due to kids) but they’re asking me to work full time through holidays but the childcare charges will kill us in holidays so I just can’t do it! Do I have any rights and can I say no?
mum24 - 3-Sep-18 @ 6:42 PM
Hi, I have been an agency worker at my place of work for 2 years now, early this year I was put on a nightshift rotation(though I couldn't get anything written from either the company or agency) , 7 on 7 off, 8pm-8am weds-tues, on Tuesday I was asked if I'd like to go on a Mon-Fri dayshift I said no and gave my reasoning, was told "Thanks for your reply, no problem" via text. On Friday morning (while now on shift) my agency (who are actually owned by my company) contacted me to say I've been taken off my shift with immediate effect and have 2 options accept the day shift or be jobless. Now the shift I was on is short-staffed and they must put someone in my place to have their minimum numbers for a squad. They put in a flexi agency guy last night to cover the gap, can they do this? No notice was given, literally took me off mid shift and said my placement wasn't required though it clearly is, they are trying to force me to take the day shift.
Twotone - 1-Sep-18 @ 7:03 AM
Golferg - Your Question:
Hi SafeWorkers,I have never been given a written contract but my manager says our hours are 8:30-5:00 even though we have done 8:00-4:30 for past 16 years and none of the previous 6 managers had an issue with this,Thanks,Golferg

Our Response:
If you've never had a written contract but have worked the same hours for 16 years you may be able to claim these hours were what you assumed were in your contract. Your employer is also breaking the law by not giving you a contract. Seek advice from ACAS or a union rep.
SafeWorkers - 29-Aug-18 @ 10:24 AM
Hi SafeWorkers, I have never been given a written contract but my manager says our hours are 8:30-5:00 even though we have done 8:00-4:30 for past 16 years and none of the previous 6 managers had an issue with this, Thanks, Golferg
Golferg - 26-Aug-18 @ 12:08 PM
My rota has been put out two weeks in advance I work a variety of shifts from mornings or nights or split shifts on the 2nd week I was on a morning and this rota has been out for a week as such people make plans when they know what they are working then I checked my shifts and it has been changed to a. Night and my manager tells me she can change it if plenty. Of notice is given but to my argument is how can you change it otherwise people would. Never be able to do anything out of work cause your rota could. Change at any time
Nuggins - 25-Aug-18 @ 9:55 AM
Golferg - Your Question:
I work for a utility company and am based at home to travel to different locations everyday depending on where my appointments are, I my have to travel anywhere from 20 minutes to 120 minutes depending on location. I have a company van to travel in and for the past 16 years have left in the morning at 8:00 am and returned home at 4:30 pm. My work is organised by the office staff so I have no say as to where I'm working from day yo day. My manager has now informed me that he wants me to start work at 8:30 am but still leave the house at 8:00 am and finish work a 5:00pm but still travel 30 minutes in my times not home to 5:30 pm, this is resulting in one hour extra per day for no extra money. If I object to this he is more than likely to say leave my company van in the yard and travel in my own vehicle to the yard each morning. I feel this is changing my terms and conditions against my will, can he do this?

Our Response:
What are your actual hours of work (as stated in your contract)? Without knowing that it's difficult to say.
SafeWorkers - 24-Aug-18 @ 12:16 PM
Jay - Your Question:
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 alsoMany thanks

Our Response:
Unless your contract was changed when you went on to fixed shifts, you have to accept that your employer can rotate them (your contract being any 5 days of 7). There is no legal minimum for notice. Your employer must give you "reasonable notice" of any changes to your working hours, such as cancelling your shifts. They may request last minute changes (such as ringing you that morning to say that they do not require you to work) and you can choose to agree to this change. However if you are not given reasonable notice of your shift being cancelled/shortened, you can politely refuse this reduction in your hours. How much notice is "reasonable"? There is no law simply defining reasonable. However your contract may state this. In most cases, a minimum of 12 hours notice would be expected as reasonable notice to cancel a shift. See our guide here for more information
SafeWorkers - 22-Aug-18 @ 2:21 PM
Chels - Your Question:
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.

Our Response:
Your employer must give you reasonable notice of any changes to your working hours, such as cancelling your shifts. They may request last minute changes (such as ringing you that morning to say that they do not require you to work) and you can choose to agree to this change. However if you are not given reasonable notice of your shift being cancelled/shortened, you can politely refuse this reduction in your hours. How much notice is "reasonable"? There is no law simply defining reasonable. However your contract may state this. In most cases, a minimum of 12 hours notice would be expected as reasonable notice to cancel a shift. See our guide for more information
SafeWorkers - 22-Aug-18 @ 2:01 PM
I work for a utility company and am based at home to travel to different locations everyday depending on where my appointments are, I my have to travel anywhere from 20 minutes to 120 minutes depending on location. I have a company van to travel in and for the past 16 years have left in the morning at 8:00 am and returned home at 4:30 pm. My work is organised by the office staff so I have no say as to where I'm working from day yo day. My manager has now informed me that he wants me to start work at 8:30 am but still leave the house at 8:00 am and finish work a 5:00pm but still travel 30 minutes in my times not home to 5:30 pm, this is resulting in one hour extra per day for no extra money. If I object to this he is more than likely to say leave my company van in the yard and travel in my own vehicle to the yard each morning. I feel this is changing my terms and conditions against my will, can he do this?
Golferg - 21-Aug-18 @ 10:35 PM
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
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