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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48474
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I am contracted to work 18 1/2 hours per week. 15 months ago

Customer Question

I am contracted to work 18 1/2 hours per week. 15 months ago I agreed via email to increase my hours by 4 for a 6 month trial period. At the end of that time I verbally agreed to continue working those hours. I now want to return to my original contracted hours and my employer is only granting me a 1 hour reduction. Do I have to accept this?
Submitted: 29 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

How long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Since 2002
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I have built up my hours over then years to 18 1/2 as family constraints allowed (I work for the NHS) I have been working 18 1/2 hours since about 2009
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I could do with an answer
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the flexible working process and your rights in that respect. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the flexible working process and your rights in that respect. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
My written contract actually states my contracted hours as 18 1/2. The agreement to extend was verbal. Does this not have an influence on my request?
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
There was no written contractual amendment for a material alteration in hours.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

A written contract can be overwritten by a verbal agreement because a contract can be formed simply through verbal discussions and agreements. At least the only reference you have in writing is the one for the lower hours so you can still try and rely on that as proof of what your hours should be, but if the employer can provide further evidence of what had been agreed verbally over time, then there is still a chance that would have taken precedence over anything in writing. Does this clarify things a bit more?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
it does but what is the point of having a written contract if a verbal agreement trumps it? There is no written evidence to my agreeing a permanent change in hours
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
My feeling is, if they wanted a permanent change they should have bothered to change my contract
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

A written contract would have reflected the original agreement you had in place. It does not mean it will be the master reference forever. If you had agreed to something new, even verbally, which was clearly intended to replace the original terms, then this new agreement will become the legally binding one, even if there was something in writing which said differently. Just because something is in writing does not mean it is the be all and end all of terms in place.

A change of contract in writing would have indeed been the ideal scenario but that does not always happen and the failure to reflect the changes in writing does not mean they cannot be applied, as long as it can be shown that this is what was intended and you had both agreed to it.

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
My plan is to point out after 15 months of change, I want to return to my contracted hours. Bearing in mind I have done these hours for some years. I am hoping they will back down- bearing in mind the people making the decision are not HR or legally trained. I am kind of hoping they just back down.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

Ideally they would - there is nothing stopping you from exerting pressure on them, pointing to what you have on writing as it is the only official reference for now and hoping that they will eventually just let you go back to these hours. There is plenty you can do to make this into a difficult situation for them and push them into a bit of a corner. But I still had to point out the information mentioned above - that they also have a right to challenge this if they really wanted to

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
What is the flexible working process then?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

Yes I can certainly discuss that with you. As mentioned, please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the flexible working process and your rights in that respect. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Well I am in the fortunate position of being able to tell them to stuff their job if they don’t return to the original hours. They have form with refusing full timers the option to reduce hours preferring apparently to lose good people rather than grant them part time contracts. I am the other way round as I have been gradually increasing my hours. I suspect they won’t look too deeply beyond my pointing out they didn’t bother to formalise the change. At least I am banking on that
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

There is little to lose by adopting that approach and I would hope they will eventually agree to your request rather than lose you over it.

As far as flexible working is concerned, The right to make such a request applies to any employee who has been employed by the employer for at least 26 weeks and is limited to one request in any 12-month period. Examples of the changes that can be applied for in a flexible working request include changes to working hours, times and work location.

Once an employer receives a formal request they must deal with it in a reasonable manner, ideally meeting with the employee to discuss it and, if rejected, communicate their decision within 3 months of the date the initial request was submitted. When rejecting the request, the employer is only able to do so by relying on any of the following grounds:

· Planned structural changes

· The burden of additional costs

· A detrimental impact on quality

· The inability to recruit additional staff

· A detrimental impact on performance

· The inability to reorganise work among existing staff

· A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand

· Lack of work during the periods the employee proposes to work

Ideally, the employer should also try and explain their decision in writing, such as providing information on why they believe the selected reason for rejection is relevant and they have relied on it.

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Unfortunately my experience of a lifetime of working in the NHS is the provisos attaches to the flexible working option one or more will always apply. Despite staff and experience shortages they insist on holding a hard line and thus good people leave.
Thank you for your assistance with my queries. You have really helped me have an insight into what strategy I can take. Fortunately the people involved will not have taken the trouble to investigate the options so fingers crossed I will get what I want. Many thanks Ben.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

you are most welcome and best of luck. If you need further assistance do not hesitate getting back to me

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Thanks Ben. You have been helpful
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 28 days ago.

Thanks!