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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 18 Nov 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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I have worked days and noons 6am to 2pm and 2pm to 10pm for 6 years and there has always been a permanent night shift on separate. Now the company has decided we are going to all do 3 rotating shifts to include nights 10pm to 6pm. Even though my contract states my hours are 6-2 Monday to Thursday and 6-1 on Friday then 2pm -10pm Monday to Thursday and 1pm to 8pm Friday. My question is can they just make us do this extra night shift of 10pm to 6am every 3rd week when I don’t agree. Thank you.
DT - 18-Nov-17 @ 6:55 PM
Hi I have a flexible contract but for the last 17 years have always worked Monday to Friday 10.00am to 6.00pm and never worked a ban holiday. Last year the company decided,after 16 years, we had to work Bank Holidays. Now, it seems they are going to change our work patterincluding shifts until 10.00pm plus weekends. Is it right that they can change my work pattern that has been in place for years.After such a long time of doing the same shift is this legal. Thanks
Pat - 11-Nov-17 @ 2:00 PM
jojo - Your Question:
My husband has worked for his company for 13 years 3 years ago a new company took over and tuped all staff.The new company now has put a proposal in to totally change job, sickness benefit and holidays. Hours are changed from 8 hour days to 10 on a 4 on 4 off basis. which will mean working 4 out of 6 weekends and my husband also cares for me as I have a disability and it will destroy our life's. We have informed his union but is there any more we can do.

Our Response:
You can object to the proposed changes. Please see our guide to Objecting to Changes in your Employment Contract
SafeWorkers - 10-Nov-17 @ 3:33 PM
My husband has worked for his company for 13 years 3 years ago a new company took over and tuped all staff. The new company now has put a proposal in to totally change job, sickness benefit and holidays. Hours are changed from 8 hour days to 10 on a 4 on 4 off basis.which will mean working 4 out of 6 weekends and my husband also cares for me as I have a disability and it will destroy our life's.We have informed his union but is there any more we can do.
jojo - 9-Nov-17 @ 1:37 PM
My manger changed my schedule from day to night shift I am working lab technologist at city hospital I have been for 9 years. What can I do and what my wright
Mm - 9-Nov-17 @ 12:50 AM
Bickabuild - Your Question:
My manager wants me to go from 6am starts to 10pm starts for one week maybe two with 2 days notice. though my contract is flexible. We do not have offical start or finish times our working hours are random. Is this allowed?

Our Response:
If your contract is flexible and this is only for a week or two it's likely that there is not much you can do do unfortunately. There are no set notice periods for shift changes either.
SafeWorkers - 7-Nov-17 @ 12:06 PM
My employer gave me and half the factory a job on 12 hour night shifts. I have a confirmation of employment email stating I would receive £20 per night shift allowance, 5 months later we have just got a letter giving us a weeks notice that the night rate is being taken away because they can no longer afford to pay it and it was an incentive not part of our contract.. Iv never signed a contract nor been given one other than the confirmation email.. can they do this???
Chipsie - 7-Nov-17 @ 1:37 AM
My manager wants me to go from 6am starts to 10pm starts for one week maybe two with 2 days notice. though my contract is flexible. We do not have offical start or finish times our working hours are random. Is this allowed?
Bickabuild - 1-Nov-17 @ 12:41 PM
Hi my management want me to move from nights to days, because they want me to have further mentoring as they believe that nights don’t suit me, despite not having any concerns about my ability or performance,if I don’t switch my chin is in jeopardy, I don’t wish to switch as my partner also works nights and we don’t get much time together already, where do I stand on this please.
Irritated - 31-Oct-17 @ 12:54 PM
sue - Your Question:
Hi I have a contract to work between 6am till 3pm can my employer make me change one of my shifts to 3pm till 10pm.

Our Response:
if your contract specifically mentions shift start and end times, your employer cannot make your change these without your consent. Please see our guide to Objecting to changes in your employment contract for help.
SafeWorkers - 30-Oct-17 @ 3:46 PM
hi I have a contract to work between6am till 3pmcan my employermake me change one of my shifts to 3pm till 10pm.
sue - 29-Oct-17 @ 5:41 PM
I was working on my job 2 years full time second shift....now I wanna switch to first shift ...and they still hiring for all shift ...the HR asked me to write a letter for switching and told me is not 100% gonna be on first shift
mike - 24-Oct-17 @ 7:29 AM
we are working on second shift it's ok to the manager mandate us to first shift on sunday ...
mike - 24-Oct-17 @ 7:26 AM
Ryankate - Your Question:
My employer is forcing me to go to day shift and I don't want to take that big of a pay cut or work days. Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
You have not told us what your contract says? Were you only contracted to do night shifts?
SafeWorkers - 20-Oct-17 @ 1:00 PM
My employer is forcing me to go to day shift and I don't want to take that big of a pay cut or work days. Is there anything I can do?
Ryankate - 18-Oct-17 @ 8:53 AM
I have been in long term employment16years with the same company7years ago i became a single parent and verbally agreed on a 21hr over 4days contract.i now have a new boss who weekly refuses to give me my set hours.he oftentakes my hours down to 16 without even consulting with me first.surly i have rights on this .please help
Debs - 14-Oct-17 @ 1:34 PM
My husband has been working overnight at a grocery chain for 10 months,5days a week 10 hrs a day. He started complaining of mice, mold and unsanitary reasons and selling of expired food. As of next week , they are doing away with the overnight program , moving him to days cutting his hours and pay.Is that legal?
Maria - 14-Oct-17 @ 1:20 PM
Nosey - Your Question:
If my Employer closes the night shift and moves me to days, can my hourly rate be reduced according? Why should I suffer a loss.

Our Response:
This depends on your contract. Many employers pay more to night workers, but there is no obligation on them to do so. If your contract specified that you were to cover both day and night shift depending on your employer's needs there's not much you can do about this.
SafeWorkers - 3-Oct-17 @ 2:37 PM
If my Employer closes the night shift and moves me to days, can my hourly rate be reduced according? Why should Isuffer a loss.
Nosey - 1-Oct-17 @ 6:40 PM
Keeno - Your Question:
I have been working for a company for 7 months on days and they are forcing me to do nights shift even tho my physio said I shouldnt because of an injury but work refussed my physio letter, I am moving adress and will struggle on nights as moving in with girlfriend who has children

Our Response:
Check your contract. If it doesn't state specific shifts, then your employer can expect you to work when you're asked with the limits of working hours. You can make an application for flexible working hours but your employer can refuse if there is a valid business reason to do so. Please see our guide here, for more information
SafeWorkers - 27-Sep-17 @ 2:47 PM
I have been working for a company for 7 months on days and they are forcing me to do nights shift even tho my physio said i shouldnt because of an injury but work refussed my physio letter, i am moving adress and will struggle on nights as moving in with girlfriend who has children
Keeno - 26-Sep-17 @ 12:22 AM
Hi I'm a manager and i'm hoping to change our employers shifts and at the moment its as follows. Earlies Earlies Middles< Present shift Lates All doing the same hours as nothing extra is being added on. I feel its best to work with 2 middle shifts. Earlies Middles Middles < New shift Lates. This is what i'm going to do. what do i need to do as i'm having a meeting Monday to put this forward and give them a month notice of the change. anything i need to be aware of. Thank you.
DAN - premises. - 21-Sep-17 @ 11:28 AM
robert - Your Question:
My employer asked me to change work location for 1 week ,and my question is what time shift realy starts when I am in the new location work or when I leave at home

Our Response:
This depends on the distance/extra distance and any policy that your employer has.
SafeWorkers - 18-Sep-17 @ 2:38 PM
my employer asked me to change work location for 1 week ,and my question is what time shift realy starts when i am in the new location work or when i leave at home
robert - 16-Sep-17 @ 10:25 PM
ross1989 - Your Question:
I have been working for company for 7 years in warehouse department for past 4 years doing 7-4 shift mon-fri no weekends but now they are moving me onto different section where could be various shifts starting diffenrent times 7,8,9,0r 10 finsihing latest at 9 at night depending on start time also nearly every weekend can they do this my partner works til 7 most days in week therefore I pick child up from school every night and they know I do this also she works most weekends therefore I have him then do they have to give a notice period to change this can I apply for flexible working ??

Our Response:
Check your contract. If you were originally taken on to work day shifts 7 -4 this may be detailed in your contract in which case your employer cannot make changes to your working hours without your prior consent. If the contract does allow for a change and it's not convenient for you/your lifestyle, you can make a request for flexible working. Your employer must give your request due consideration and must provide a good business reason for refusing. If you find your contract is actually for working weekdays from 7 to 4 then take a look at our guide to objecting to changes in your contract
SafeWorkers - 6-Sep-17 @ 9:45 AM
I have been working for company for 7 years in warehouse department for past 4 years doing 7-4 shift mon-fri no weekends but now they are moving me onto different section where could be various shifts starting diffenrent times 7,8,9,0r 10finsihing latest at 9 at night depending on start time also nearly every weekend can they do this my partner works til 7 most days in week therefore i pick child up from school every night and they know i do this also she works most weekends therefore i have him then do they have to give a notice period to change this can i apply for flexible working ??
ross1989 - 4-Sep-17 @ 11:24 AM
Fay - Your Question:
Hi,At my work there are three teams under a client services banner: support, onboarding and ops.Support as responsible for answers all support queries for our company as our business is open from 7am - 6:30pm.When we were a smaller company it was essential that onboarding was back up support and all members of both teams did a rotating shift to cover the business hours. We have since gone through large growth and implemented more staff and another team - ops.It has since changed that some of the members of the support team and the onboarding team have been able to secure a permanent shift time due to having children. The ops team also all have permanent shifts. There are others of us that have to continue with the rotating shift simply because none of us have children.Is it legal to make some staff do a rotating roster and not others simply because they have children?Thanks for your help.

Our Response:
All employees have the right to request flexible working, so you could try submitting a request for permanent shifts. Your employer must give your request due consideration and provide a good business reason if it's refused. If you feel you are being discriminated against there are some steps you can take. This information on the Citizens' Advice website will help.
SafeWorkers - 4-Sep-17 @ 9:33 AM
Hi, At my work there are three teams under a client services banner: support, onboarding and ops. Support as responsible for answers all support queries for our company as our business is open from 7am - 6:30pm. When we were a smaller company it was essential that onboarding was back up support and all members of both teams did a rotating shift to cover the business hours. We have since gone through large growth and implemented more staff and another team - ops. It has since changed that some of the members of the support team and the onboarding team have been able to secure a permanent shift time due to having children. The ops team also all have permanent shifts. There are others of us that have to continue with the rotating shift simply because none of us have children. Is it legal to make some staff do a rotating roster and not others simply because they have children? Thanks for your help.
Fay - 28-Aug-17 @ 6:29 AM
Hi, I'm recently having my working hours changed permanently. I work on a 24/7 help desk which covers nights and days. I've recently been told my shift start and finish times are changing next week and Im now working on a 24/5 rota. I cant work these new hours and will need to leave my job because of this. My contract only states a 24/7 shift pattern. Can I do anything about this? I'm really stuck. Thanks
Danny - 24-Aug-17 @ 10:06 AM
GG - Your Question:
Hi I've worked the same night shift every Thursday and Saturday for over a year. Last weekend my manager messaged me saying someone else was doing my shift so I could do another (I never said I could do another) and this weekend he's messaged again and told me I'm doing a different shift because he wants my normal one. Is there anything I can do or say?

Our Response:
What does your contract say? Were you contracted to do that specific shift? If so your employer cannot change it without your consent. Please read out guide When your employer changes your working hours
SafeWorkers - 22-Aug-17 @ 10:14 AM
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