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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45347
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Could you please advise me where i stand as an employee who

Resolved Question:

Could you please advise me where i stand as an employee who has been told i have to change 4 of my shifts to afternoons .. I work at a nursing home and am becoming very distraught with the conditions i am working under. My normal job in a kitchen as "kitchen assistant" was from 7.30am until 2.30, assisting my work colleague who is the cook in the kitchen.. Since i have had to do 4 afternoon shifts a month starting 11.30 until 6.30 , i am expected to do half a morning shift and all afternoon .. I am physically exausted and getting very anxious as the residence in the home are suffering!! They dont get a mid morning drink now because i am not there to give them one, when i get to work the residence are complaining but they are not being heard.. My colleauge is left to work in the kitchen alone for four hours until i get to work at 11.30. Are there health and safety rules about a cook working in a kitchen on her own? The staff moral is very low,and the nursing home is poorly staffed in all areas.. please can you help
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

Hello ,I have worked at the nursing home for 5 years. The nursing home has been under a new manager for the last 2 years,since CQC were called in because of concerns to a resident who had come in for a short while and was not receiving the proper care. Since this manager has been in charge,all of the staff have been treated disgraceful,and are not given any respect as workers should be.. The changes began when she came into the home. I consider myself to be a descent human being,and to witness what is going on is soul destroying! Those residents are in "our" care and it has come to a point where ive witnessed enough, and need advice, i have contacted you on behalf of several of my work colleauges who feel the same.. CQC have been to the home on occasions and gone away and the same incidents are occuring. I work as a kitchen "assistant" assisting the cook,how can the cook be left on her own for 4 hours doing all the work until i arrive at 11.30, My normal hours were 7.30-2.30 so i cannot understand how that manager can do this? The cook surely is at risk ?, being left alone to do 2 peoples work,anything could happen in that time,of course the residents are suffering, they dont get a mid morning drink when im not there ., and i know this happens when these shifts occur, which is wrong! The manager wont change anything saying there isnt enough money.. Lifeline own this home and it has been said we have to cut corners where we can! I could give you a list of wrong doings in this home. The receptionist sat at reception is really a carer, without any qaulifications. Another worker who has worked there years has had her hours reduced although shes got a contract stating her hours quite clearly...please please can you give me some advice where we can get the help we need for us and the residents.. Many Thanks Pamela Waby.

Ben Jones :

Thank you - are your usual hours contracted, i.e. are they specified in your contract or does it allow the employer to be flexible with the hours you work?

Customer:

My contracted hours were origanally for 98hrs per month. When i went into the Kitchen 2years after being there ,I asked for my hours to be reduced to 84 hrs per month . I have not seen my contract since this was changed, i have asked to see my contract several times but without success.

Ben Jones :

So is your query in relation to the employer changing your hours or the conditions under which the others are working as a result?

Customer:

My query is can they change my hours and make me work afternoons when i applied for the morning post,. And the proper care concerning residents" needs" are not being met, due to this change and when concerns are stated they are ignored . To us this is neglecting these elderly people..

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked the morning shifts and have these hours been consistently applied?

Customer:

I have worked morning shifts for 3 years,working 84 hours per month on certain set days continuously.

Ben Jones :

Whether the employer can change your hours would depend on whether they are your contracted hours or if the employer has the power to vary these. This would mainly be governed by your contract of employment and you have the right to receive a copy of that so you can make a formal demand on the employer to supply you with it.


 


Assuming the hours were contractual, there are a few ways in which an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. These are by:



  • Receiving the employee’s express consent to the changes.

  • Forcefully introducing the changes (called 'unilateral change of contract').

  • Giving the employee notice to terminate their current contract and then offer them immediate re-engagement under a new contract that contains the new terms.


 


If the changes are introduced without the employee's consent, then the following options are available:


 


1. Start working on the new terms but making it clear in writing that you are working ‘under protest’. This means that you do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do so. In the meantime you should try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance.


 


2. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., you may wish to consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. The resignation must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give the impression that the changes had been accepted. The claim must be submitted in an employment tribunal within 3 months of resigning and is subject to you having at least 2 years' continuous service. You would then seek compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the employer's actions.


 


3. If the employment is terminated and the employer offers re-engagement on the new terms that could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can try and justify the dismissal and the changes if they had a sound business reason for doing so. This could be pressing business needs requiring drastic changes for the company to survive. If no such reason exists, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The same time limit of 3 months to claim and the requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply.


 


Finally, it is also worth mentioning that sometimes employment contracts may try to give the employer a general right to make changes to an employee’s contract. As such clauses give the employer the unreserved to change any term, so as to evade the general rule that changes must be mutually agreed, courts will rarely enforce such clauses. Nothing but the clearest language will be sufficient to create such a right and the situation must warrant it. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will still be subject to the requirement of the employer to act reasonably and can be challenged as above.


 


As to the effect these changes have on the residents, this would not have any impact on whether the employer can make the changes or not – these are separate matters. If the changes affect the level of care or service offered then it is something you can still raise with the employer through the appropriate channels, but it does not follow that the employer cannot make the changes. So you would be looking at two separate complaints there potentially – one for the changes and then one if you believe the residents are not getting the appropriate care.

Customer:

Gosh that is alot of information for me to absorb, a worker who does 10 hours per week at the nursing home was asked to change her mornings to lates and she refused point blank to do it. I wasnt asked ,i was told i had to do it.. So i am going to take this matter further.. Thankyou for this valuble information..

Customer:

Could you please let me know when working what is the legal requirement for breaks,as i do 7 hours and rarely have a break,but have been told you should take a break after 4 hours of working. thankyou

Ben Jones :

Hi, I appreciate it may be a lot but do take your time to read it...As to working breaks it is not 4 hours but 6 hours of work that triggers the requirement to have a break. You are entitled to have an uninterrupted 20 minute break for every full 6 hours of work

Customer:

Hi , would it be advisable for a solicitor to write a letter as well as myself , about this issue?

Ben Jones :

A solicitor cannot do much at this stage apart from to write a letter on your behalf - they cannot really force the employer to do anything. Some may say that a formal letter may prompt the employer to treat this more seriously but there is no guarantee of that so you could be just wasting more money in the process. I would probably say it is not necessary at this stage as solicitors only really get involved when there is a formal claim in the process, for example if you have resigned and are claiming constructive dismissal

Customer:

Thankyou for your help which is much appreciated...

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome, all the best

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45347
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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