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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 23 Feb 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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I work any 5/7 from shift so my shift pattern is 3weeks working weekends then 3 weekends offwith days off during the week. My company have presented me with a new shift pattern I will be working 8 1/2. Weekends on with 2 1/2 weekends off this is a bit too much to ask of me would I be intitled to any redundancy or any claim for a constructive dismissal I’m not able to do this amount of weekends and would cause a lot of upset to my family
John - 23-Feb-18 @ 9:29 AM
Bubba - Your Question:
Hi there I currently work in a warehouse as the supervisor and have a team member in my warehouse that starts work at 7:30a.m and finishes at 4:00p.m. She is the dispatcher for our branch. Now she has her lunch from 2:00p.m till 3:00p.m, which is one of the busiest times during the day, am I or my manager aloud to change her lunch time to say 11:30a.m to 12:30p.m effectively and immediately?

Our Response:
Yes, you can unless the time of the lunch break is actually stated in her contract (this would be rare).
SafeWorkers - 19-Feb-18 @ 10:51 AM
Hi there I currently work in a warehouse as the supervisor and have a team member in my warehouse that starts work at 7:30a.m and finishes at 4:00p.m. She is the dispatcher for our branch. Now she has her lunch from 2:00p.m till 3:00p.m, which is one of the busiest times during the day, am I or my manager aloud to change her lunch time to say 11:30a.m to 12:30p.m effectively and immediately?
Bubba - 18-Feb-18 @ 6:48 AM
Stevie - Your Question:
I work in a retail store and part of a management team with 3 senior members of management i.e. Supervisor assistant manager and manager, our company is nationwide and I've had a Tuesday off for childminding for last 3 years. Recently my partner started a new job and after months of disagreement with rota and manager I contacted my HR department who advised me to get a stage 1 felixibility agreement which was sit down and discuss it with area manager before making it formal, so this was down and I agreed in a Tuesday and a Saturday with a later start on the day after these days due to partners long hours. After 6 months and a new area manager I've now been told it's unfair and if I want to continue I need to apply for flexible working officially. I have conceded I can't have the Saturday as it is our company's busiest trading day so hands up I'll accept that and I've been told I need to work a Tuesday every so often which I find fair if I get 4 weeks notice but the real issue is since I've been informed of this by our area manager is the fact my manager has no start time no finish time and starts and finishes when she wants? How is this fair? My contract is same as her albeit she is on a higher pay grade. She is the least flexible in my work place and has manipulated area manager to the point if I want any sort of time for childminding it has to be down officially on flexible working but yet my manager who has "social commitments" every day starts and finishes around other managements shifts i.e. 5 hours one day 9 the next but I can't have a late start day after my partner is on a 24 hour shift? Is this legal because technically she's on a flexy shift but not signed off as it's not for childcare she has no kids under 16. So I raise an official grievance with my hr department? I have all times and dates she has worked on her "flexy shift" and I have to commit to 9 hours minimum a day.

Our Response:
We can't comment on why your manager doesn't work the same shifts etc. Perhaps it's because she is a manager and has different role/responsibilities? If your employer has advised you to apply officially for flexible working, why don't you?
SafeWorkers - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:27 PM
I work in a retail store and part of a management team with 3 senior members of management i.e. Supervisor assistant manager and manager, our companyis nationwide and I've had a Tuesday off for childminding for last 3 years. Recently my partner started a new job and after months of disagreement with rota and manager I contacted my HR department who advised me to get a stage 1 felixibility agreement which was sit down and discuss it with area manager before making it formal, so this was down and I agreed in a Tuesday and a Saturday with a later start on the day after these days due to partners long hours. After 6 months and a new area manager I've now been told it's unfair and if I want to continue I need to apply for flexible working officially. I have conceded I can't have the Saturday as it is our company's busiest trading day so hands up I'll accept that and I've been told I need to work a Tuesday every so often which I find fair if I get 4 weeks notice but the real issue is since I've been informed of this by our area manager is the fact my manager has no start time no finish time and starts and finishes when she wants? How is this fair? My contract is same as her albeit she is on a higher pay grade. She is the least flexible in my work place and has manipulated area manager to the point if I want any sort of time for childminding it has to be down officially on flexible working but yet my manager who has "social commitments" every day starts and finishes around other managements shifts i.e. 5 hours one day 9 the next but I can't have a late start day after my partner is on a 24 hour shift? Is this legal because technically she's on a flexy shift but not signed off as it's not for childcare she has no kids under 16. So I raise an official grievance with my hr department? I have all times and dates she has worked on her "flexy shift" and I have to commit to 9 hours minimum a day.
Stevie - 2-Feb-18 @ 10:37 PM
Ilemsirc - Your Question:
I work for a hospital and I have an union. I work every other weekend the night shift and when I do I'm off Mondays. I worked this weekend, and like always I thought I was off Monday until @ 11 pm I received a call from my supervisor that I'm scheduled to work and my coworker called out that I have to come in to work. I told her I thought Im off she said yes me too but I out you off on Friday it was an honest mistake,that it is my responsibility to check my posted schedule to see if there's any changes, so I went to work exhausted. today while I was cleaning my house I came across with a copy of the posted schedule and I was off on Monday.my supervisor obviously changed my schedule in the system because my coworker called out and didn't want to pay overtime to another employee. not only did she like and change my schedule but now I'm working 6 days In a row without having a day off in between and it is not consider overtime because on Sundays it's the beginning of a new week. What can I do,is it illegal what she did?

Our Response:
An employer is entitled to make changes to rotas/schedules unless your contract says not. Assuming you are aware that you are supposed to check the schedule regularly, there may not be much you can do about this. Check you working hours average over the course of a few weeks to ensure you haven't worked more than you are paid for, or than the working time regulations dictate etc.
SafeWorkers - 2-Feb-18 @ 3:04 PM
I work for a hospital and I have an union. I work every other weekend the night shift and when I do I'm off Mondays. I worked this weekend, and like alwaysI thought I was off Monday until @ 11 pm I received a call from my supervisor that I'm scheduled to work and my coworker called out that I have to come in to work. I told her I thought Im off she said yes me too but I out you off on Friday it was an honest mistake,that it is my responsibility to check my posted schedule to see if there's any changes, so I went to work exhausted. today while I was cleaning my house I came across with a copy of the posted schedule and I was off on Monday..my supervisor obviously changed my schedule in the system because my coworker called out and didn't want to pay overtime to another employee.. not only did she like and change my schedule but now I'm working 6 days In a row without having a day off in between and it is not consider overtime because on Sundays it's the beginning of a new week.. What can I do,is it illegal what she did?
Ilemsirc - 1-Feb-18 @ 9:21 AM
Betty - Your Question:
I've worked in hotel for 22 years. The first 2 years I worked a mix of days & nights. For the last 20 years I've worked all day shifts. Now a new manager is in and she putting me on nights without my consent. I feel I'm being unfairly treated cos she is giving my hours to other workers. My night shifts are only 4 hrs. Very annoyed and stressed cos of low wage

Our Response:
If your contract says you do a mixture of night and day shifts then that's what you may have to accept. If however, you are only being given night shifts (no day shifts) then you may be able to take action. Similarly if you feel you are being unfairly discriminated against it's worth seeking advice from ACAS.
SafeWorkers - 26-Jan-18 @ 2:43 PM
Janny - Your Question:
I work in a care home, I am a cleaner,support worker. Recently it has come to everyone's attention that only cooks and a care worker on kitchen duty are allowed in the kitchen, there are no other facilities in the building for staff to make hot drinks, heat food on their breaks, we have to now rely on kitchen staff to do this for us. But also, as it is a residential home and service users ask other staff for a drink etc, and nobody available in the kitchen at the time, so other willing staff are unable to get a drink for the service user, so they have to wait until someone is available in the kitchen. What are employees rights to access to be able to get even a drink of water should they need one?

Our Response:
Recommendations are that drinking water in frequent small amounts is better than waiting for break times or simply when you're thirsty. As for employers and the responsibility to provide access to drinking water, here's what Regulation 22of Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says:
(1) An adequate supply of wholesome drinking water shall be provided for all persons at work in the workplace.
(2) Every supply of drinking water required by paragraph (1) shall – (a) be readily accessible at suitable places; and
(b) be conspicuously marked by an appropriate sign where necessary for reasons of health and safety.
(3) Where a supply of drinking water is required by paragraph (1), there shall also be provided a sufficient number of suitable cups or other drinking vessels unless the supply of drinking water is in a jet from which persons can drink easily.
SafeWorkers - 26-Jan-18 @ 11:01 AM
Hello My husband has been on permanent 2-10 shift for the last couple of years and has every other Friday off. He has been advised today that the employer no longer wants this shift to run, so he would have to go back on permanent days. He does not want to go back on permanent days as he cannot get to work during the winter on public transport (he only has a motorbike licence) and does not ride it in the winter it is off of the road. The employer changed the shifts to suit them some time ago now they want to change back.We have the shifts in writing what rights does he have if the employer wants to change the shift. Thankyou
mouse1965 - 25-Jan-18 @ 3:03 PM
I've worked in hotel for 22 years. The first2 years I worked a mix of days & nights. For the last 20 years I've worked all day shifts. Now a new manager is in and she putting me on nights without my consent. I feel I'm being unfairly treated cos she is giving my hours to other workers. My night shifts are only 4 hrs. Very annoyed and stressed cos of low wage
Betty - 24-Jan-18 @ 2:13 PM
I work in a care home, I am a cleaner,support worker.Recently it has come to everyone's attention that only cooks and a care worker on kitchen duty are allowed in the kitchen, there are no other facilities in the building for staff to make hot drinks, heat food on their breaks, we have to now rely on kitchen staff to do this for us. But also, as it is a residential home and service users ask other staff for a drink etc, and nobody available in the kitchen at the time, so other willing staff are unable to get a drink for the service user, so they have to wait until someone is available in the kitchen.What are employees rights to access to be able to get even a drink of water should they need one?
Janny - 24-Jan-18 @ 9:28 AM
Our team have worked 1 in 4 weekends for the last 21 months. Recently the team has expanded. At a recent staff meeting we were told we will now only be working w in 5 weekends. This will mean an effective pay cut when our wages over the course of a year are calculated. Can this change be implemented without consultation?
Kidney lady - 20-Jan-18 @ 10:10 PM
My manager made me be a Bar Supervisor without training me. I had an awful shift and she shouted out me and has now taken off one of my two shifts a week. I have diagnosed anxiety and depression and am adjusting to medication; she knows all of this. What are my rights?
D187 - 19-Jan-18 @ 1:00 PM
Mally - Your Question:
Hi my manager is trying to introduce a night shift in the rota and saying it part of my contract hours. in my contract is says I have to do 160 hours a month but there is no specification to what time. can I refuse to do this as I didn't get the job to do night work

Our Response:
If you contract doesn't specify which shifts you work, you can be expected to work any of the available shifts within your contracted hour limit.
SafeWorkers - 19-Jan-18 @ 12:32 PM
Hi my manager is trying to introduce a night shift in the rota and saying it part of my contract hours.. in my contract is says I have to do 160 hours a month but there is no specification to what time ... can I refuse to do this as I didn't get the job to do night work
Mally - 16-Jan-18 @ 8:48 PM
Cax - Your Question:
I have been working day shifts only for 6 months , but my employer is saying that I have to do night shifts, this is new management that has taken over, the old management wanted me to do permenant days to comply with a request from a government agency. My personal circumstances were considered at the time and all other staff were happy with the change, nothing has changed in the work place other than the management and work obligations remain the same too. Is this just the new management flexing their wings and changing things just bevause they can?

Our Response:
We don't know about the intentions of new management but if your contracted to do day shifts only then your employer cannot ask you to work night shifts without your consent. If your contract states your shifts can include night shifts, then there isn't much you can do apart at this stage apart from submitting an official request for flexible working to work days only (you can do this once you've worked for more than 26 weeks with your employer).
SafeWorkers - 16-Jan-18 @ 3:33 PM
Am a single mum with a child. Could they make we swop my day shift to night shift.
8888 - 15-Jan-18 @ 10:21 PM
None - Your Question:
Can your employer force you to work night shift if it's written in your contract. I've been working a permanent back shift from I started. I've said I'll work days and backs but not night shift.

Our Response:
If your contract says you can be expected to work day or night shifts then unfortunately there is little you can do if you don't want to work the night shift.
SafeWorkers - 15-Jan-18 @ 11:41 AM
I have been working day shifts only for 6 months , but my employer is saying that i have to do night shifts, this is new management that has taken over, the old management wanted me to do permenant days to comply with a request from a government agency. My personal circumstances were considered at the time and all other staff were happy with the change, nothing has changed in the work place other than the management and work obligations remain the same too. Is this just the new management flexing their wings and changing things just bevause they can?
Cax - 14-Jan-18 @ 5:42 AM
Can your employer force you to work night shift if it's written in your contract. I've been working a permanent back shift from I started. I've said I'll work days and backs but not night shift.
None - 12-Jan-18 @ 12:06 PM
Kirsty - Your Question:
Can I be forced to change shifts with no notice and can I be forced to work my day off if I have medical reasons as to why I need the day off and can I refuse as they only change my shift they don't change any one else

Our Response:
(1)Can I be forced to change shifts with no notice?
Yes there is nothing in employment law that states anything about "specific" notice required for a shift change
(2) Can I be forced to work my day off if I have medical reasons as to why I need the day off?
Is this a booked day of annual leave or simply a day you're not on a shift because of shift rotas?
(3) Can I refuse as they only change my shift they don't change any one else?
Unless you're on a zero hours contract, it's difficult to refuse a shift that you contractually obliged to work
Please see our Our Guide for more details
SafeWorkers - 8-Jan-18 @ 3:37 PM
Can I be forced to change shifts with no notice and can I be forced to work my day off if I have medical reasons as to why I need the day off and can I refuse as they only change my shift they don't change any one else
Kirsty - 6-Jan-18 @ 2:27 AM
Breezy - Your Question:
Question: can any employer change your schedule around and state that they are giving someone your shift because they have children and they don't have a second job like I do.

Our Response:
This depends on what you contract says and which (if any) shifts your employer is contractually obliged to give you.
SafeWorkers - 5-Jan-18 @ 11:38 AM
Can you Help, Sorry in advance this one is slightly long. My employer has been consulting all workers for the last year and half if not more about moving from a Day / Night shift rotation to a single Day Shift pattern. So from around October we started the process to come off nights which was completed by mid Oct 2017 In the same month October 2017 we were all told that our job was a risk as they wanted to move the whole department 55 miles to our London office. We were all told that they would be employing new staff that would eventually end up covering the nights. So once the Individual redundancy process began they offered everyone a compensation package for travel if you decided to stay and not take the redundancy. Two and half months into working the new shift pattern in the new office I found out by chance, that my manager is going to put me back on nights come the summer. His reasoning behind this is HR has told him that only working night is unsociable and they would not be able to employ people under these circumstances’. My question is this, can my employer move me to day shift which has a much better “work-life balance” then change it back without consultation knowing that this will be contentious.Also if I had known this during the redundancy process (even if there was a mere possibility) I would have chosen to take redundancy and leave. Can they do this? Do I have grounds for constructive dismissal?
Peved - 4-Jan-18 @ 4:27 PM
Question: can any employer change your schedule around and state that they are giving someone your shift because they have children and they don't have a second job like I do.
Breezy - 2-Jan-18 @ 9:50 PM
casey - Your Question:
I work in nursing.The employers are changing our shift patterns. We will be expected to work 3 nights (30hours in total) and 1 day (7.5 hours) in one week, for 2 consecutive weeks.Is this healthy or legal?

Our Response:
It is legal. What does your contract say?
SafeWorkers - 2-Jan-18 @ 2:36 PM
I work in nursing. The employers are changing our shift patterns. We will be expected to work 3 nights (30hours in total) and 1 day (7.5 hours) in one week, for 2 consecutive weeks. Is this healthy or legal?
casey - 24-Dec-17 @ 4:51 PM
My supervisor invoked a 5-day notice period on me (in our local agreement), to forcibly change a bank of 4 days to a bank of 4 nights. I made him aware that this would lead to me requiring to put my son into childcare for the morning after I had finished the nights as I was due to look after him, and that by forcing me to change shifts he was in fact costing me money. My supervisor subsequently said that childcare is not the company's problem, and I subsequently did the night shifts and put my son into childcare. However, when another member of my team was told he was required to change shifts but objected due to going out for a meal, his objection was upheld. I inserted a grievance on the grounds of unequal treatment that my manager has attempted to sweep under the rug, despite me having a formal meeting and being told 22 days ago that I would receive a resolution in 5 days. But that's another problem. I am wondering if, due to my commitments as a father that were jeopardised by my supervisor's unequal treatment, the company has any rights to change my shifts when I have a dependent child.
cardamine - 14-Dec-17 @ 3:28 AM
I have a 4 hour contract however I work full time for a retail store anywhere between 28-39 hours at the moment. Our manager gives us our weekly rotas in advance, however will contact us 30 mims or an hour before the shift to say its changed, cut hours and shorter shift. Is this allowed as I am on a 4 hour contract? just wondering if there are any regulations about more notice etc?
kiki - 13-Dec-17 @ 8:01 PM
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