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Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 26 Sep 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 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
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?
GG - 18-Aug-17 @ 11:29 PM
alb - Your Question:
Hi ive been working for a company for a year I work night shifts and get the nightly rates I work Monday to friday and finish on the saturday morningi arrived to work on the friday to be told that from monday I will be starting at 7 am in the morning which means I will be loosing 300 pounds a month are they allowed to do this ????can I refuse to do this!!!

Our Response:
Check your contract, if it doesn't specifically state which shifts you work, then unfortunately there is not much you can do about it. If you were employed to work night shifts and your contract confirms this, you can take action for breach of contract, see the above article for more information.
SafeWorkers - 14-Aug-17 @ 12:25 PM
Hi ive been working for a company for a year i work night shifts and get the nightly rates i work Monday to friday and finish on the saturday morning i arrived to work on the friday to be told that from monday i will be starting at 7 am in the morning which means i will be loosing 300 pounds a month are they allowed to do this ???? can i refuse to do this!!!
alb - 11-Aug-17 @ 9:12 PM
deline - Your Question:
I have worked at 9 week rota pattern for 18 years of 2 days and 2 nights with 4-5 shifts off. my employer (nhs) wishes to change this pattern to a 4 week rota. obviously we all have family commitments etc. how do we stand here?

Our Response:
Are you shifts detailed in your contract? If the contract gives specific details then your employer cannot change these without your consent. For more information, see our guide to Objecting to Changes in your Employment Contract here. If this is not a change in your contract (in that your contract doesn't specify specific shifts), then there is not a great deal you can do.
SafeWorkers - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:44 PM
I have worked at 9 week rota pattern for 18 years of 2 days and 2 nights with 4-5 shifts off .. my employer (nhs) wishes to change this pattern to a 4 week rota.. obviously we all have family commitments etc.. how do we stand here?
deline - 31-Jul-17 @ 9:54 AM
Hi, I have worked for same company for 4 yrs and had the same shifts for this period of time. I work predominantly nights with a night allowance. My employer has asked me to work 1pm until 9 pm and would therefore loose my night allowance. They have given no logical reason for this. I believe (although no proof) they are trying to get rid of me in a round about way by me loosing pay and I wouldn't see my family until the weekend because of their work commitment & sch. This situation is making me ill and although the union is involved I don't feel they understand the impact this will have on my family life. Please advise ! Thankyou
Doodle - 21-Jul-17 @ 4:42 PM
I woke up to a text saying my start time had now been put back to midnight as aposed to 7pm I rang my manager and said it was too late I'm up he told me due to customer needs he couldn't do nothing about it - so I rang my union office up and was told different I rang my transport manager and explained that I had planned my sleep to start at 7 and finish 6am and now being told to start at midnight was putting myself and others at risk due to fatigue and as I could not possibly go back to sleep having already slept for 9 hours I told him I will put this in writing on the advice of my union office he told me he would get back to me and 10 mins later I got a call from planning saying come in at 7pm - result guys
downton driver - 21-Jul-17 @ 3:31 PM
The store I work in decided to have later opening times closing at 10pm instead of 8pm. I have a contract that States I Finnish at 8.30 pm. The trouble is my manager said all evening staff have to cover lates. It's getting home for us all that is the problem no buses. One girl worked miles home putting her self at risk. We have to veg for lifts of people then they have to be out out because they have to travel further. One girl has to get her aunt to fetch her in the car she has to wake her child up to go with her because she is a single parent its all so incovenent. No matter how many hours a shop opens there is no more money about. Supermarkets are now so greedy. One collegue said she would like a boyfriend she is young but says she won't meet one when she is stuck at work till 10.30 on a Saturday night every week.
Locket - 19-Jul-17 @ 2:10 AM
When I started my job 4 years ago, I was taken on on a variable contract. I was told when my rota was first discussed that I would be working two weekends a month. This continued up until three months ago when all our work patterns were changed without discussion and I now find that in September I am working 4 out of 5 weekends. How does this relate to 'custom and practice' and 'a right to family life'? Do I have any case?
Queen Bee - 17-Jul-17 @ 6:13 PM
My employer basically changed my shift without telling me, before I was even there. I was scheduled 4-11 for a serving position. I had a coworker of mine begging me for my shift that day, but I didn't give it to her because I needed the money and it was a Saturday night. I walked in and learned that my coworker pointed out that we didn't have a second host for the day and he gave my shift to her and made me host because I have past experience.
MJ - 16-Jul-17 @ 11:28 AM
My employee wants to change my working pattern from a 4 on 4 off shift pattern to working 5 days per week, they are not changing my pay but I don't want to change as I've been doing this for 6 years what are my rights to refuse ?
Win - 14-Jul-17 @ 11:02 AM
I get 2-3 weeks rota of days and times I av to work I av a child that is on Dal in he's cares so I take pictures of my Rotas and also write then in a diarey so if my partner is not able to watch my childI get a sittershe checks diary so she nos wen lookin after my son dose my boss av the right to change these Rotas without askin meall I get is it's ur responsibility to check everydayto see if there's changes
Tray - 13-Jul-17 @ 11:47 PM
New manager has taken over my daily scheme as well as another one just around the corner, I have been told that a few workers get on my current team will be going to support the 2nd scheme with sleep-ins, this week I have been placed on 3/4 sleeps one on one off. This is making me very anxious as I have not workerd in the 2nd scheme very much. What are my options/ rights on this? As I have medical issues regarding anxiety and not being able to sleep very well.
Durb - 10-Jul-17 @ 9:02 AM
My employer says I have to go on call one week in every 3 but as I have to have my children every other week I've told him I can't do this, can I refuse or will i have to do what I'm asked to do
bez - 9-Jul-17 @ 7:41 PM
My employer says I have to go on call one week in every 3 but as I have my children every other week I am unable to do this, can I refuse or will I have to do as im asked
bez - 9-Jul-17 @ 7:37 PM
delilah - Your Question:
Hi.After working on nights for four years I've been put on days.How long are my wages protected for.Thanks.

Our Response:
This will depend on the terms of your contract. There's no automatic right to extra pay for working night shifts, but many employers will offer it as an incentive. If your contract doesn't say that you will be working specifically nights or days, then you can expect to be asked to work either.
SafeWorkers - 4-Jul-17 @ 11:39 AM
Daz - Your Question:
Hi I ask my employer for a transfer from nights to days about 7 months ago and still no response what can I do next

Our Response:
Speak to your employer in person? All employers must give consideration to a request for a change in hours/flexible working hours but doesn't have to agree to it.
SafeWorkers - 4-Jul-17 @ 10:32 AM
Hi.After working on nights for four years I've been put on days.How long are my wages protected for.Thanks.
delilah - 3-Jul-17 @ 1:32 PM
Hi i ask my employer for a transfer from nights to days about 7 months ago and still no response what can i do next
Daz - 2-Jul-17 @ 9:44 PM
Jj - Your Question:
My employer is telling me I will be changing my hours and will now be starting at 5 am instead of 9am which does not suit due to health reasons I have been with the small business for 25 years and he will not listen when I tell him I can't do it can he force me to work that shift I have never had a contract

Our Response:
Even if you've never been supplied with a "paper" contract, a contract exists between you and your employer because you have worked for him and he has paid you. If you have been working the same hours/shift for 25 years, your employer and you have nothing to the contrary, you can assume these hours constitute part of your contract. Your employer needs your consent to change your contract. Here is more information about Objecting to Changes in Your Contract
SafeWorkers - 27-Jun-17 @ 1:54 PM
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