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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 16 Feb 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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My 17yr old has been working 1to 2 nights a week For the past year and for the past 3 weeks He has told her that there is no work and left her off the weekly roster but tonight we went to her work to get dinner and there is a notification for Junior staff needed. She is gutted as it took a lot for her to conquer fears and disability to get this job as she is hi functioning autistic. Wish he we just give her some information as to what’s going on so she knows to start looking for another job
Jo - 16-Feb-20 @ 10:45 AM
When I started this job I filled out for first shift that's the shift i applied forI was available but then now because I don't want to be a cook after being promised a supervisor position she wants to put me on night shift without my consent is that legal
Meka - 3-Feb-20 @ 5:22 AM
Hi I usually work 2days day shift,2 days night shift and 2 days I take off,then I had appointment with someone in the afternoon my manager sent a new roster stated that I work dayshift for 4days and take off 2 days I informed him that I can't manage to work dayshift until further notice I got appointment with someone he agree to change the roster when I come to work in the afternoon someone was deployed and I was sent home,when I ask why he said I'm the fool I can't read the roster, at the end of the month R489,09 was deducted from my wages for being absent without a leave but I'm earning R235,00 per day.
Joeman - 1-Feb-20 @ 1:42 AM
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Jessie1 - 16-Jan-20 @ 10:13 AM
Hi..i have a varicose veins on my legs and now my boss has asked me to work night shifts which is 12 hours shift ive tried explaining to him about my situation but he doesn't understand he forces me to work night shift ive also tried to reason with him that i have two daughters a 5yrs oldand a 13yrs old which i need to look after but seems like he doesn't really care about my concern... What must i do?
Lala - 13-Jan-20 @ 8:37 PM
I work in care home for 5 years now I have a disabled child my shifts are 8/8 day and manager trying to change my shifts to 10/10 I told her I can’t do it and was told tuff is my manager aloud to do this as my son don’t like change plus he goes to bed at 9 so I can’t get anyone to look after him
Boo - 29-Dec-19 @ 6:48 PM
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Katie - 19-Dec-19 @ 4:37 PM
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Jesso - 15-Dec-19 @ 7:44 PM
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Steve - 3-Dec-19 @ 1:26 PM
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Buzzy Bee ! - 17-Nov-19 @ 9:25 PM
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Dillon - 15-Nov-19 @ 11:31 PM
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Jay - 4-Oct-19 @ 3:16 PM
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gemini - 3-Oct-19 @ 10:20 PM
If I worked 3rd shift an they paid me a certain amount can they switch my cause of shift differential pay
Mike - 3-Oct-19 @ 2:42 PM
I have worked for 5 years within a company and its basically 12 hour shift 2 days 2 nights and 4 days off . i never change shift before .. manager and supervisor came with a decision to rotate shift for 3 months. To take me out of 12 hours and wrk monday to friday 8 hrs .. now the 12 hours isnt redundant ,it is being replace by a other individual .. this was made clear it wasnt a company decision it was just the manager and supervisor came with a idea ,is there any health and safety issues with having a sleeping disorder adjusting to a different shift after 5 years ..
Vawn - 19-Sep-19 @ 2:26 AM
We have another manager instore I filled out op-out form in working sunday be now she said I have not where do i stand with this
Xxxxxx - 29-Aug-19 @ 6:41 PM
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mar - 14-Aug-19 @ 9:41 PM
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Lili - 29-Jul-19 @ 6:42 AM
My employer has changed my rota without my permission the rota went out on the thursday and i made plans for the following week. I was off the friday and came in the Saturday my rota was changed i left a note saying i couldn't do the shifts as i had made plans . Ive been off for few says and now a notice has gone up saying rota is a live document snd can be changed at anytime without consent. Is this legal
Dollygizzy - 26-Jul-19 @ 10:22 AM
My husband has been working for the same company for 6 years, previously to this he worked for them but had a stroke due to stress at work, he was re-employed when he was for to work and works a 6am to 6pm day Monday- Friday and also 2-3 weekends out of the month. He has to take medication to prevent another stroke or heart attack at the same time in an evening and has to rest after taking this. They have now told him his job is redundant as it doesn't produce enough revenue to pay his wages and want him to go onto night shift. Due to the importance of the timing of his medication he has gained a letter from GP saying it would be detrimental to his health if this was to happen. He has given his company this letter and they still want him to do night's ignoring the recommendation from GP. Where do we stand on this matter? As they have stated his job has been made redundant can he take redundancy and leave? As they are basically saying do night's or nothing.
Kat - 19-Jul-19 @ 11:19 AM
I just started working at a foundry 2 months ago on 3rd shift and now they're getting rid of the shift. My girlfriend just got a job to work around my shift because we've only got one car. What can I do?
sdmf - 17-Jul-19 @ 12:30 PM
Hi, I’m working for my company 9 years, for the last 3 months I have work in two branches, last month I asked the area managers to be transferred to the branch which I helped for 3 months because it’s more close to my house, I can travel by car and the main reason it very convenient for me to look after the kids after school till my husband come back from work and I can go to work night shift. They refused me with the reason that the business need me in other branch. What can I do ? I’m finding difficult to manage finding all the time someone to help with the kids. Thank you!
Emy - 14-Jul-19 @ 10:19 PM
Dave - 14-Jul-19 @ 12:18 PM
Hi, looking for advice, I was offered a job this week and accepted but for a reason unknown they have changed their minds and I'm not getting the job. Is there any legal advice ?
Phil - 12-Jul-19 @ 3:29 PM
I had breast cancer 4 years ago I reduced my hours from 42 to 25 our company nurse gave me a letter with restrictions and to do only sandwich production and serve customers I've always started at 6 now my manager is saying she cannot accommodate my hours where do i stand I feel she is being unreasonable I do my job to be a 100%
Jackie - 3-Jul-19 @ 9:42 AM
Hi I would like to change my shifts to day time as they are my perferreedhours plus my partner nan is having a massive hip operation and id like to be around as much as i can for her as shes only round the corner. Im a bit scared to ask this but im more concerened for his nan being on her own constantly!How can i apporach this without being too diffucult??
Anna - 29-Jun-19 @ 4:38 PM
I working in one company, I am agency employee. Last 5 months I am working night shifts. Can my manager without asking me change my shift on days? I will have just one whole day off. Can they do it?
Bibi - 12-Jun-19 @ 4:55 AM
I'd like to know please, or seek advice on, whether it is a breach of licencing, health and safety laws, or, something similar, to keep a caged parrot in a publicbar, which serves food and has a restaurant area, however, you can choose to eat where you like.
Absfab - 24-May-19 @ 12:16 AM
My boss is my partner, were not getting along so everytime we have a disagreement he threatens to fail my probation and gives my shifts away, I was going to move out of the home we share this week but he cut down my hours so I couldn't pay for a months rent and bond, I've witnessed him get customers to send in emails of complaints about his staff that are made up lies to the company so he can get rid of them so ino he plays dirty, what do I do
Cc - 18-May-19 @ 11:04 AM
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