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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46207
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hello I am a doctor. It is in my employment contract that

Resolved Question:

Hello
I am a doctor. It is in my employment contract that I must give a minimum of 6 weeks notice for any kind of leave from work. My jobplan has me finishing work at 5.30pm on a friday. Is it reasonable for the Trust to give me less than 6 weeks notice that I must attend a meeting away from base hospital on a friday, meanng I must work two hours beyond my jobplan. Thank-you
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Does your contract say anything about this?

Customer:

No, nothing about it. My assumption is that the 6 week rule apply to all.

Ben Jones :

How much notice have you been given?

Customer:

4 weeks and 2 days. Has never been an issue before however with 4 young children and no-one to care for them beyond my normal working day I had to be home on time. My 4 carers had all given me 6 weeks minimum notice that they had to leave work on time on this particular day and I had agreed it as I had no knowledge that I would be needed at work later than scheduled when they asked.

Ben Jones :

and what are the usual arrangements in terms of notice by the employer in such circumstances - not anything written in the contract but just in general practice terms?

Customer:

There is no set arrangement. Sometimes I am aware of meetings months in advance, others a few days. It is usually not a problem however on this occasion it was and the Trust have taken a very dim view of it. I think it all boils down to whether dual standards are acceptable or not. Can the Trust insist on one set of rules for employees but not follow them as employers? If they can then that's how it is however if ithey can't then the Trust have no right to take any action out about my having to leave the meeting in time to be home on time.

Ben Jones :

Dual standards can be acceptable and are certainly not uncommon, especially if there is nothing specific in the contract or workplace policies to deal with this and past practice does not support it. There is no law that says if you are required to give notice for something that the employer should give the same. What won’t help you here is that the contract is silent on the notice required by the employer and the fact that what has happened in the past does not support a view that minimum notice is to be given by the employer as they have given you variable notice periods, which have been accepted by you and which can even be much shorter that the notice you have been given now. Had there been a consistent approach of giving you a minimum notice period I the past the you could argue custom and practice has created a contractual precedent but in this case there is no consistency at all and no defined minimum notice period.


 


So legally, there may not be anything specific you can bring up and rely on to give you a strong argument but you can still try and resolve this directly with the employer, either informally or formally through a grievance. You should highlight the reasons for not being able to accept these changes, stressing the difficult situation you will be facing as a result. However, if they refuse to budge then apart from the grievance and a subsequent appeal, it would be a case of trying to make the best of it, whether by trying to arrange something with the carers or finding new arrangements.

Customer:

Thank-you for your thoughts. I must say I think it is outrageous that an employer can expect you to be at their beck and call 24/7 regardless of any other committments.

Ben Jones :

Yes I understand your frustration but generally such notice would not be unreasonable it is just that your personal circumstances make it so

Customer:

Thanks again. If others could have but didn't attend this same meeting and their apologies were accepted is this fair too as this is what happened? They are all male.

Ben Jones :

do you know why theirs were accepted but yours were not?

Customer:

No but I know what they were doing instead of attending. Two were doing extra operating lists for renumeration to keep waiting lists down and one had shortened his operating list, taken no form of leave and had attended to a domestic duty. His some was having elective day case surgery.

Customer:

Sorry that should have read son

Ben Jones :

So these were all activities not linked to work with this employer?

Customer:

Those who were operating took on additional elective work on that day with their employer and were paid extra. The cases were all elective, no emergencies and could have been done at a different time. The Trust have targets to meet with waiting times and if they don't meet them thay can be penalised. The other doctor was supposed to operate all day. He stopped his list at lunchtime and spent the afternoon with his son whilst he underwent elective daycase surgery elsewhere. He took no form of leave for this and is paid to work the full day at the hospital. All of us were sent the same email saying how important it was that we attend and the Trust accepted that lists etc would need to be cancelled in order to free us up.

Ben Jones :

You have to look at the circumstances leading to the reasons for their acceptance and your refusal. In some cases it could be justifiable, in others it may not be. For example if they had been accepted because they asked first, it would not be unlawful. However, if there was some selective decision process that could not be justified then it is a potential ground to complain through the grievance procedure. But just because they are male does not automatically mean it is discrimination, some evidence must exist that the decision is based on gender grounds.

Customer:

I wasn't suggesting that, it was simply an observation! There are very few female surgeons in my field, I think 6 nationwide. I do however feel that I have been treated differently to all of them. They could not have possibly sent apologies before me as I sent them within an hour of receiving the email. I knew I couldn't work late that day and informed them of it. Those who took on additional operating lists did so so that the Trust would not be penalised for breaching waiting times. It is as simple as that. The patients could have waited until the evening or following morning for their surgery. The other surgeon took abscence without leave. I don't see how any take on this is fair. Do you?

Ben Jones :

without knowing the employer's reasons for their actions, this could still be just being unfortunate in this case, or circumstance evidence that may still be justified by the employer. Hence why if you did raise a grievance, they would have a duty to investigate the complaint formally and provide an official response, allowing you to appeal if necessary. The you may get a better idea of what drove them to this decision

Customer:

ok. Thanks for the advice. It's most helpful.

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:



www.justanswer.com/law/expert-ben-jones/

Customer:

Will do. Thanks again

Ben Jones :

My pleasure, good night

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46207
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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