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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 25 Apr 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'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
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 workexplained I didn't know I was at work that night coz I had 4 days off so I didn't turn Ifor that shift as was going out can I get into trouble or not
Amy Lou - 3-Apr-17 @ 11:59 PM
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?
Reg1 - 3-Apr-17 @ 10:02 PM
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!
B. - 3-Apr-17 @ 12:00 PM
Once my work rota is up and I have checked when my day off is can my manager put me in on my day off without asking me? And if I can't work because I'm busy on what was suppose to be my day off can I refuse?
Lisha - 2-Apr-17 @ 9:00 AM
Hi I started on my contract on the late shift and for 2 yrs I was told and promised I'd be moved from the 7pm finish to normal hours ie 4.30 finish. After two years and a doctor's note I finally got moves to 5.30 finish. It's been just under a year and now I'm being told I must go back to a y or 7pm finish. I did the late shift longer than anyone on the team. I'm the second longest member on the team and it feels like I'm being discriminated against as there's no reason a Rota can't be put in. I feel I'm being treated more than unfairly but I don't know what to do. We do have the business need in our contracts and I just keep having the business need and also "you started on the team on the 7 finish and we can just put you straight back on if we want" through in my face every time. Surely this isn't fair or right. Please help me as I don't know what else to do. Why can't they use the business need on the rest of the team(which most started after I did) and put a Rota in place?
Ben - 30-Mar-17 @ 11:38 PM
Hi I started on my contract on the late shift and for 2 yrs I was told and promised I'd be moved from the 7pm finish to normal hours ie 4.30 finish. After two years and a doctor's note I finally got moves to 5.30 finish. It's been just under a year and now I'm being told I must go back to a y or 7pm finish. I did the late shift longer than anyone on the team. I'm the second longest member on the team and it feels like I'm being discriminated against as there's no reason a Rota can't be put in. I feel I'm being treated more than unfairly but I don't know what to do. We do have the business need in our contracts and I just keep having the business need and also "you started on the team on the 7 finish and we can just put you straight back on if we want" through in my face every time. Surely this isn't fair or right. Please help me as I don't know what else to do. Why can't they use the business need on the rest of the team(which most started after I did) and put a Rota in place?
Ben - 30-Mar-17 @ 11:37 PM
Lou - Your Question:
I have a question, my daughter has a condition which causes her to pass out sometimes, she is on medication and is currently going through tests. Her employer has been aware of this since they took her on nearly 2 years ago. A new manger has started and has pulled her from her role due to health and safety reasons and has re-assigned her to other duties with any any prior notice, her hours were 7am-3pm mon to fri which suited well as she was able to get a lift two and from work, as public transport is not an option. They agreed to keep her hours the same but are now chopping and changing them and are making it difficult for her to work, this situation is causing her so much stress, can this do this?

Our Response:
If there was an agreement to keep her hours the same or the hours are documented in the contract anyway, then they cannot change them without her consent. See our guide here for information on breach of contract etc
SafeWorkers - 30-Mar-17 @ 2:14 PM
I have a question, my daughter has a condition which causes her to pass out sometimes, she is on medication and is currently going through tests. Her employer has been aware of this since they took her on nearly 2 years ago. A new manger has started and has pulled her from her role due to health and safety reasons and has re-assigned her to other duties with any any prior notice, her hours were 7am-3pm mon to fri which suited well as she was able to get a lift two and from work, as public transport is not an option. They agreed to keep her hours the same but are now chopping and changing them and are making it difficult for her to work, this situation is causing her so much stress, can this do this?
Lou - 29-Mar-17 @ 4:47 PM
jeff - Your Question:
Ive been working Monday till Thursday for the past 10 years now employer wants me to work weekends do I have to change my shifts

Our Response:
What does your employment contract say? Please see our guide here for more information
SafeWorkers - 28-Mar-17 @ 12:42 PM
Suzieq - Your Question:
My father-in-law is 70 years old and has been working for the same company for 30 years. He is still very able compared to most and is happy to continue working. However, he did not envisage working a night shift at his age and his employers have asked him to work nights. Is he within his rights to say no.

Our Response:
Depending on his contract he may not be able to simply refuse. He should speak with his employer about this in the first instance. If he has not worked nights in the 30 years he's worked there and is now being asked to work them, could it be they are trying to force him out (constructive dismissal)? If he's been working mixed shifts including nights and nothing much has changed in this pattern, then it's unlikely he is in a position to refuse.
SafeWorkers - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:21 AM
ive been working Monday till Thursday for the past 10 years now employer wants me to work weekends do I have to change my shifts
jeff - 27-Mar-17 @ 11:26 AM
My father-in-law is 70 years old and has been working for the same company for 30 years. He is still very able compared to most and is happy to continue working. However, he did not envisage working a night shift at his age and his employers have asked him to work nights. Is he within his rights to say no.
Suzieq - 26-Mar-17 @ 6:48 PM
Kay - Your Question:
Hello, I work in hospitality and I started with this company since it first opened 17 months ago. In my department I have 8 staff members and we are paid equally and have the same contract. But I am the only one who does the night shift (11pm -7.30am) and we are never rotated. I have tried many times to change it but they keep saying I'm much better than the other staff hence they need someone really good to handle night duties. But it has effected my lifestyle negatively (eating, sleeping, etc) I wanted to know what rights do I have to force them to share the night shifts with other staff members. Our contract says I can work any shifts but I feel discriminated against as I'm the only One doing the night shift. Yes I agreed to do it when I first joined but for the life of me I never thought after 16 straight months I still will be doing ONLY night shifts. How do I go about telling my employers especially when the manager lies to me Constantly and HR keep taking his side.

Our Response:
Contractually, there's not much you can do. If you feel as though you are being discriminated against for some reason, it's worth contact ACAS to see if they can advise you further.
SafeWorkers - 24-Mar-17 @ 12:14 PM
Hello, I work in hospitality and I started with this company since it first opened 17 months ago. In my department I have 8 staff members and we are paid equally and have the same contract. But I am the only one who does the night shift (11pm -7.30am) and we are never rotated. I have tried many times to change it but they keep saying I'm much better than the other staff hence they need someone really good to handle night duties. But it has effected my lifestyle negatively (eating, sleeping, etc) I wanted to know what rights do I have to force them to share the night shifts with other staff members. Our contract says I can work any shifts but I feel discriminated against as I'm the only One doing the night shift. Yes I agreed to do it when I first joined but for the life of me I never thought after 16 straight months I still will be doing ONLY night shifts. How do I go about telling my employers especially when the manager lies to me Constantly and HR keep taking his side.
Kay - 21-Mar-17 @ 12:55 PM
Benji - Your Question:
I work nights and we hired a new guy and I was offered the next day shift a couple months ago and they want to give it to the new guy which isn't fully trained, also my production is higher and the quality of my tubing is better, can they do this

Our Response:
This is up to the employer. If you feel you've been discriminated against for some reason, first speak to your employer.
SafeWorkers - 9-Mar-17 @ 12:31 PM
I work nights and we hired a new guy and I was offered the next day shift a couple months ago and they want to give it to the new guy which isn't fully trained, also my production is higher and the quality of my tubing is better, can they do this
Benji - 8-Mar-17 @ 5:45 AM
i work mornings can my employer change me to an afternoon and then let somebody else do overtime on my morning shift I am the only person having to change to an afternoon while one girl does overtime three mornings a week
Pat - 7-Mar-17 @ 3:09 PM
Tree - Your Question:
Hi. I've worked for a company for 16 years in a care home I'm on day duty and do 12 hour a day my boss is putting me on nights one week in the month but as it's just me and my 11 year daughter I've have no one to mind her during the night what way do I stand with this ?? Thanks

Our Response:
Check your contract. If you were employed to do days (your contract might for instance, state your start and finish times or daily hours etc) then your employer is in breach of contract changing. First speak to your employer, tell them about your childcare issues and ask if you can stay on days. If you feel your contract as been breached, follow the advice in our guide
SafeWorkers - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:51 AM
Rory- Your Question:
Hi my company have asked me to do says for a while "they asked" and they told me my shift preiumum wont be paid till I go back onto shifts. people on shop floor are saying they have told you to go on days and it should be paid where do I stand?

Our Response:
This depends on your contract. Does it say you can be assigned to shifts or days? And does it state that days and shifts attract different pay? Sorry without details of your contractual agreement with your employer, it's difficult for us to comment.
SafeWorkers - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:02 AM
Hi, I am a hospital contracted supervisor currently. I just had a baby a year ago and my job put me on a 430 am to 1pm shift. I agreed. One of my employees have been fired and I had to take over his shift until they found someone else new. Now that we have a new person they changed the agreement of a contract that they have with a hospital now I'm stuck on a 12am to 8am shift. I keep asking them can they change my shift for 9 months now. They keep saying be patient they are going to change the contract but they have been known to lie. I want to know do I have a case against them.
Lisa - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:15 PM
Hi.. I've worked for a company for 16 years in a care home I'm on day duty and do 12 hour a day my boss is putting me on nights one week in the month but as it's just me and my 11 year daughter I've have no one to mind her during the night what way do I stand with this ?? Thanks
Tree - 27-Feb-17 @ 4:41 PM
Hi my company have asked me to do says for a while "they asked" and they told me my shift preiumum wont be paid till I go back onto shifts..... people on shop floor are saying they have told you to go on days and it should be paid where do I stand?
Rory - 27-Feb-17 @ 9:33 AM
You need to check your contract first. If your shifts are flexible, your employer can give you whatever shift he likes as long as you are receiving the hours/pay that your contract states.
BillyO - 22-Feb-17 @ 1:01 PM
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