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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been employed at the same company for 15 years. After

Customer Question

I have been employed at the same company for 15 years. After reorganisation of the departmental shift system and the generation of a new rota 4 years ago, I changed my working pattern to go on this new rota. I chose this rota because of my circumstances at the time. I chose to work compressed hours because my mother who lived nearby was immobile and needed 24 hour care and this shift pattern enabled me to visit her regularly and do other things on my rest days. Although she did not live alone, I continued to be around as there was no extended family support.
Everything was okay for the first few months on this rota until my mother had to go into hospital and diagnosis of swallowing difficulties meant that she had to spend 10 weeks in hospital to have a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) tube inserted in her tummy and have a home care package arranged. Upon her admission, I was unaware that she was unable to swallow and thought that she would only be in hospital for a few days. When I realised it was going to be a longer hospital stay, I just had to take things day by day as the family were not always updated by ward staff on a regular basis. I did not ask for any special leave.
Even after her discharge from hospital, it was a stressful period as carers were in and out of her house 4 times a day which meant a family member needed to be at home (the carers did not have their own key). Over a period of five months this and the daily hospital visits unfortunately took its toll on me and due to this, did not always make it to work at the very beginning of my shift, but I always phoned work to inform them that I was on my way. I always made my time up. I was told off for being late and later went to speak to the manager higher up to apologise and explain about my situation. She then suggested that I see their OH practitioner for advice, but instead of the manager explaining in the referral letter about my situation, she labelled me as someone who had concentration problems and a poor timekeeper and as a result, the OH practitioner recommended that I go back to normal day shifts.
Feeling a bit aggrieved, I continued to work my 12 hour shifts for a few more months until my employer forcefully changed my start time when I made an error and needed retraining. By this time my mother had passed away. As I was not allowed to start early which enabled me to do compressed hours, I had to work a few extra days per month and still finish late (to remain full-time), meaning that I had to visit and support my bereaved widowed father and do more shifts at work. I was only supposed to be doing this shift temporarily, but the training programme was prolonged for an extended period. I did send an email reminding the manager that I wanted to go back to doing compressed hours, but they refused to allow me to change my hours whilst being retrained. I have now been told that due to one assessment not being passed, I cannot go back to starting early and doing longer hours/fewer days.
I have now verbally asked if I can start slightly later when doing a more frequent day shift, but my request has been refused. This would not have an impact on staffing, but I feel that I am deliberately being made to work hours which don’t fit in with my family commitments even though I do not have children. I feel stressed when I have to visit and support my father after work thinking about having to then go home and prepare for work the next day worrying about whether I will get stuck in the rush hour traffic. A former manager allowed me to start work 15 minutes later when I formerly did regular day shifts, but that person left the organisation a few years ago. At that time I finished work to do sit-in care at my mother’s house after work when my father was doing evening shifts until he retired.
I feel unable to explain in-depth my situation to this manager as she tends to label me negatively and her only way of dealing with me is to suggest I see their OH practitioner who will then suggest I work hours which do not fit in with my circumstances. A colleague of mine witnessed what I went through when my mother had to be in hospital over the years and knows the impact of losing a close member of my family has had on me, even though it has been more than a year and feels that I shouldn’t be working extra shifts if it does not make me happy.
Is there anything I can do to get my hours changed, even if it is at least to start 15-30 minutes later on a day shift? Could I speak to my General Practitioner and get them to write a letter to my employer? If the GP writes a letter, who would I/they give/send it to? One of my 2 brothers is autistic and lives in a care home. My other relatives live abroad. The organisation as a whole does have a flexible working policy and I don’t know if this is worth exploring. I do not know if I have grounds to apply given my former/current circumstances and the department manager’s history of being inflexible.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  taratill replied 4 months ago.

Hello Jenny , I am a solicitor and I am happy to help you today. How long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

I think I mentioned, 15 years. Although I do physically need to find a work/life balance that works for me, I think that it may be possible that I may be psychologically affected by what I have been through in the past and I may need to try and overcome this. However, I would just like to feel supported by my managers.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Relist: No answer yet.

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