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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12081
Experience:  30 years experience as a solicitor.
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I work as a biomedial scientist with national services scotland

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I work as a biomedial scientist with national services scotland where I have worked for the past 31 years. I have a contract for 37.5 hours /week to meet the needs of the service. I currently only work Mon to Fri 8 to 4. The lab is manned 24 hours a day with out of hours cover being provided by voluntary on call. In August we are changing to a shift to cover 24/7.Some of the shifts will involve lone working. I am not prepared to participate in the shifts due to the added pressure this will bring. As my contract says hours to meet the needs of the service do I have any rights as an employee or is my only option to resign?
Can you give me the act wording of this part of your contract please.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I don't have the my contract at home but I think that the actual wording is 37.5 hours to meet the needs of the service.

That type of wording tends to suggest a degree of flexibility but would certainly not cover shift working. Shift working would be a material variation of the contract and would have to be agreed with both employer and employee. For that reason you can refuse to participate. If that results in the termination of your employment you would have a claim for unfair dismissal.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

If I have to go down the route of unfair dismissal would it be up to me to fund the costs?

Yes you would, unless you can get legal aid of some description. You would have to ask your nominated solicitor to check whether you qualify. And indeed whether your solicitor is prepared to work at legal aid rates of pay. Many are not.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I would not be entitled to legal aid. Very roughly what would the costs be? Would it be in the hundreds or thousands or is impossible to predict and would the solicitor have to tell me the costs up front?

It will not be in the hundreds of thousands!
A solicitor doing a court case or employment tribunal works on a time basis and has a general hourly rate, typically between £180 and £250 per hour. That covers letters, phone calls, emails etc as well as time spent in meetings, preparation and advocacy.
Your case is not one that would last for days and days. It is a simply issue as to whether the employer was entitled to make a change to your working conditions. In my experience were you to budget about £5000 that would be reasonable. Don't go to one of the "big" law firms but instead find a specialist employment solicitor who works as a sole practitioner of in a small or medium sized firm. You will get a good, personal service at an hourly rate which is on the lower side of the scale.
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