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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 27 May 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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My employer is moving me shifts half way through the year. I am on Shift A they are moving me to shift B. I have a period of 10 fixed days off every month as part of my shift pattern, this is considered to be part of my yearly holiday entitlement. I am also given 10 holiday days to take each year on top of this. As a result of being moved shifts events I have planned and would have been off for in my 10 days off (weddings, birthdays, family events etc) on Shift A now fall on working days for Shift B. Employer is saying I can work overtime to accrue extra hours above the normal 10 holiday days a year. I don't think this is fair as I am being moved at the companies request as they haven't recruited/trained people quick enough to cover my role on Shift B so I am being moved there to cover the role. I am effectively having to work extra hours in order to get the time off I originally had off anyway without having to take any leave. Am I entitled to have this leave honoured with no detriment to myself?
Bob Hope - 27-May-17 @ 11:32 PM
I've been working the night shift for 9 months and I recently handed in my notice as I was in the hospital for a bit and my body can no longer handle the night shift. I explained this to my boss and he said I could switch to day shift instead with a week max of night shift. This was over a month ago and I just was put on day shift for two days and I'm back on night shift again. Can I refuse or Atleast bring them to my point!
Shannon - 25-May-17 @ 9:44 PM
Aaronk - Your Question:
My employer has changed my shift with only 24 hours notice. I have worked days for the past 2 years and now they want me to work a nightshift then have a day to recover then go back onto days? surely this is bad for the body and mind?? I will have my body clock messed about?

Our Response:
Unless your contract says otherwise, then yes, your employer can do this.If it's only a single night shift and then you're back on days, we assume it's covering for an absence and therefore the business needs it?
SafeWorkers - 25-May-17 @ 2:28 PM
My employer has changed my shift with only 24 hours notice. I have worked days for the past 2 years and now they want me to work a nightshift then have a day to recover then go back onto days? surely this is bad for the body and mind?? i will have my body clock messed about?
Aaronk - 24-May-17 @ 2:11 AM
Lavia - Your Question:
I have a question? I work for a Restaurant and when I first started I was working overnight Shift and now they put me on mornings which is good. But one of my co worker is in Jail and they Scheduled me to cover his Shift. For example I worked today at 9am till 3 pm and they Scheduled me to work overnight that same day from 11pm till 5:00 and then they got me scheduled again at 9 am till 4pm. but I Refuse to work overnight. bottom line Is can they fired me for not working that Overnight Shift that is not even my Shift. thanks

Our Response:
We don't have information about your contract unfortunately. If it says your shifts can be varied then they can. You can't be made to work more hours per week than you are contracted to work however. Check the terms of your contract; if you think your employer is in breach of this follow the guidance in this article.
SafeWorkers - 19-May-17 @ 10:48 AM
I have a question? I work for a Restaurant and when I first started I was working overnight Shift and now they put me on mornings which is good. But one of my co worker is in Jail and they Scheduled me to cover his Shift. For example I worked today at 9am till 3 pm and they Scheduled me to work overnight that same day from 11pm till 5:00 and then they got me scheduled again at 9 am till 4pm. but I Refuse to work overnight. bottom line Is can they fired me for not working that Overnight Shift that is not even my Shift. thanks
Lavia - 18-May-17 @ 5:00 AM
Nicky - Your Question:
Hi I'm looking for some advice please, my son works nights Sunday,Monday & Wednesday 10pm till 7am his night manager has told him he has to do Monday, Wednesday & Friday nights. We don't feel this is right due to his health & safety. Has anybody got any advice? Thanks

Our Response:
What does his contract say? Is it not better to do Monday, Wednesday and Fridays as they are equally spaced?
SafeWorkers - 11-May-17 @ 9:57 AM
I have worked for the same company for over 10 years my contract stated to change my days off I will be given 1 weeks notice, I was advised 48 hours before my day off that the business will be closed on Saturday and I need to swap my day of or work the time back if not willing to book it as a holiday. Is this correct
Kesh - 11-May-17 @ 7:35 AM
leanne - Your Question:
I don't have a contract but when I was given my casual employment I stated that I could only work school hours and when the children had visitation with the father. I have worked the same hours for 4 years and now my employer is taking shifts away from me to accommodate another worker. My employer was also aware that I am required by centrelink to work 15 hours per week as my children are school age. I have tried talking to him but he just says changes have to be made what do I do

Our Response:
If you have worked the same hours for 4 years, you do have a contract and your employer is obliged to provide you with a written statement as such. Find out what hours you are supposed your contract states. If you were originally taken on on a zero hours contract, that is likely to have changed status too if you have worked continously for the pass four years.
SafeWorkers - 9-May-17 @ 1:45 PM
Hi I'm looking for some advice please, my son works nights Sunday,Monday & Wednesday 10pm till 7am his night manager has told him he has to do Monday, Wednesday & Friday nights. We don't feel this is right due to his health & safety. Has anybody got any advice? Thanks
Nicky - 8-May-17 @ 4:06 PM
Cert - Your Question:
I was just given 48 hrs notice of a shift change. I had already booked an event for something and would of not been able to go and lost a lot of money. When I told them I couldn't do the change because of this they said tough you have to it's the law. Do I have the right to say no.

Our Response:
Is there anything in your contract which says what notice period you should be given before a change in shifts? Are you normally given more notice? Is this out of the ordinary? If so you may be able to use this as a reason to refuse. Your union rep should be able to help you. If not try, ACAS for more advice - make sure you have your contract details to hand.
SafeWorkers - 8-May-17 @ 12:51 PM
Willy - Your Question:
I have worked permanent nights for 10 years. I have just received notification that I will be changing to a 3 shift rotatation starting in 4 weeks time (this means I will lose about £250 per month). Am I entitled to recieve run down money?

Our Response:
This depends on your contractual terms really. However as you've been doing the same shifts for so long your union might be able to look at the use of "custom and practice" totry and reduce the impact of the reduction in wages.
SafeWorkers - 8-May-17 @ 12:06 PM
I don't have a contract but when I was given my casual employment I stated that I could only work school hours and when the children had visitation with the father.I have worked the same hours for 4 years and now my employer is taking shifts away from me to accommodate another worker.My employer was also aware that I am required by centrelink to work 15 hours per week as my children are school age. I have tried talking to him but he just says changes have to be made what do I do
leanne - 8-May-17 @ 3:23 AM
I was just given 48 hrs notice of a shift change . I had already booked an event for something and wouldof not been able to go and lost a lot of money. When I told them I couldn't do the change because of this they said tough you have to it's the law . Do I have the right to say no .
Cert - 6-May-17 @ 6:03 PM
I have worked permanent nights for 10 years. I have just received notification that I will be changing to a 3 shift rotatation starting in 4 weeks time(this means I will lose about £250 per month). Am I entitled to recieve run down money?
Willy - 6-May-17 @ 4:07 PM
Maxibobs - Your Question:
I have worked at a company for 2 years they have changed my shift 3 times and now they are wanting to put me on night shift I have never done night shift before, I don't feel I can do it how, what will happen if I refuse

Our Response:
If your contract states that your shifts can change, there may not be much you can do about this. You should try negotiating with your employer. You can ask for flexible working hours to avoid night shifts but your employer can refuse if there are good business reasons to do so.
SafeWorkers - 4-May-17 @ 2:09 PM
I have worked at a company for 2 years they have changed my shift 3 times and now they are wanting to put me on night shift I have never done night shift before, I don't feel I can do it how, what will happen if I refuse
Maxibobs - 3-May-17 @ 9:01 PM
Sam - Your Question:
My work is telling me I will have to work alternate shifts meaning I would have to get up at 4:30am to start at 6am one week and be working till 12:30pm the next which means not getting to bed until 2am which seems extreme surely this is not possible

Our Response:
You should receive a break of at least 11 hours between shifts. However, this can be worked as an average calculated over a reference period (often 17 weeks). This means you can work more than 48 hours one week, as long as the average over 17 weeks is less than 48 hours a week.
SafeWorkers - 3-May-17 @ 10:28 AM
Sam - Your Question:
I have worked for my company for 17 years on days now they are saying I will have to do alternating shifts 6am to 3:30 one week then 3:30 to 12:30pm the next is lawful? as it will mean such a irregular sleep pattern

Our Response:
What does your contract say? If your contract says your hours/days are flexible or you may be asked to work a different shift pattern, there's not a great deal you can do. If however your contract specifies your working hours/days and you have never been given a contract but have been working the same days since you started (you'd rightly assume those were your working hours in that case), then your consent will be needed before any changes can take place.
SafeWorkers - 3-May-17 @ 10:19 AM
My work is telling me I will have to work alternate shifts meaning I would have to get up at 4:30am to start at 6am one week and be working till 12:30pm the next which means not getting to bed until 2am which seems extreme surely this is not possible
Sam - 2-May-17 @ 12:57 PM
I have worked for my company for 17 years on days now they are saying I will have to do alternating shifts 6am to 3:30 one week then 3:30 to 12:30pm the next is lawful? as it will mean such a irregular sleep pattern
Sam - 2-May-17 @ 12:52 PM
Hi.. I am employed on contracted hours.. I have worked the same days being Wednesday n Thursdays for many months. My employer wants to change my days of working. Do I have any rights to object to the change of days please?
Rachel - 28-Apr-17 @ 12:08 PM
Tamjp - Your Question:
I've worked for my employer 4 years it's a retail store I'm a single parent and I am available to work Monday to Friday 8 30-2.30 and any shift on a saturday these have been my available hours since I started and have not changed. I have a 16hr contract but it does not state my working shifts. Today I've been told I need to be available for 7am starts 10pm finished or reduce my hours or I will lose my job can they do this?

Our Response:
Unfortunately for you it sounds as though they can. If your contract does not state specific start and end times, then it's likely they can be varied. You can make an application for "flexible working hours" which might suit your home arrangements better, and your employer should give your request due consideration. An employer can refuse if there are good business reasons for doing so.
SafeWorkers - 26-Apr-17 @ 2:36 PM
I've worked for my employer 4 years it's a retail storeI'm a single parent and i am available to work Monday to Friday 8 30-2.30 and any shift on a saturday these have been my available hours since I started and have not changed . I have a 16hr contract but it does not state my working shifts.Today I've been told i need to be available for 7am starts 10pm finished or reduce my hours or I will lose my job can they do this?
Tamjp - 25-Apr-17 @ 6:59 PM
I have been working in a call centre for around two years with a shift of 7am to 3pm. Yesterday I was ordered to change shifts to 2pm to 10pm which is not ideal for me living with elderly grandparents I need to look after. The company I'm working for is going through a slow period, so in order to ensure that there is enough work to go around the 7-3 shift has been dissolved, and all the workers have been moved to 9-5, all except for 3 people, based on tenure, who have been told we need to work the evenings from now on. I wasn't offered a choice but was hand picked from a group of 30 to change. I've sent a formal letter to the HR department and the campaign manager explaining that I may have to look for a new job because the shift isn't suitable, but I don't feel like they are going to reply. Do you have any advice?
EvaPilot1 - 19-Apr-17 @ 6:16 PM
My employer has just refused to roster me on my regular Friday shifts after I had taken 3 weeks leave. I am employed as a part time staff member. Is she allowed to do this even though she has not discussed the situation with me or have it written in writing? I just received a text from her today saying she has replaced me because she needs someone to cover for when I go on leave although I am not planning anything.
Sam - 12-Apr-17 @ 3:30 AM
my employer just change our shift from 8 hours to 12 hours without consulting with the employees and they cut our rate of saturdays and sundays so that saturday will be a normal day and sunday will be one and a half, my question how is our right if the company change just like that it is lawful ?
COMMISSARMV - 12-Apr-17 @ 1:32 AM
Amy Lou- Your Question:
I was on annual leave for a week came back for one shift but didn't check rota as didn't think it had changed from the week before had 4 days off work and on the red night off work rang me to say im meant to be at work explained I didn't know I was at work that night coz I had 4 days off so I didn't turn I for that shift as was going out can I get into trouble or not

Our Response:
This depends upon your employer's policy on how employees are informed about forthcoming shifts etc. Ask to see this.
SafeWorkers - 5-Apr-17 @ 12:21 PM
Reg1 - Your Question:
Hi. I currently have flexible working hours of 9.30am till 2.30pm. My employer is changing my hours.along with everyone else's 10 until 3. One of my children is disabled and get a school bus home which get back at 3.15 leaving me no time to get back if I was to change hours. Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
Does your contract state specific start and end times or "core "time for the flexible hours? If so, these cannot be changed without your consent. If your contract allows for a change in hours there's not a great deal you can do apart from to make a formal application for a change in your work times (all employees have a right to ask for flexible working hours). See our guide here for more information
SafeWorkers - 5-Apr-17 @ 11:35 AM
B. - Your Question:
Am working shifts in my department,Its 4days shift then 4days off,then enter another group,the problem is,My employer changed me to another group without consulting me,and it happened in a short notice,e.g.By 31 he/she changed me to another group,and it means on the first of the following day.The problem is,my plans are always disappointed,even my leave plan,and what borders me is that,this thing is not happening to other employees,and it is a tendance of my boss,to change the same person with no reason,please help!

Our Response:
If your contract states that you are on variable shifts there is not much you can do about this but if you feel you are being unfairly singled out and/or not given enough notice of shift changes, speak directly to your employer, manager or HR department. Our guide here gives some more information
SafeWorkers - 4-Apr-17 @ 11:37 AM
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