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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49866
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I work for a large international company and have done so

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I work for a large international company and have done so for 15 years. My contract states that my normal working week will be 37 hours as required by the company. We have recently moved from Monday to Friday to a rota over Monday to Sunday and so now work some double weekends, Sat & Sun, over a 7 week period, which means one week we do the weekend and the next week a normal Mon-Fri therefore doing a 7 day stretch over 52 hours. A new rota now means we only do one of these in 10 weeks with the other one reduced from a 2 full day weekend to 1 & 1/2 days with the following Monday as a day off to compensate. Therefore we now will work a week of 6 days with a day off in the middle, 44.5 hours, then a 4 day week with the Monday, Saturday & Sunday off, 29.5 hours and a few weeks later the 7 day stretch.
When I questioned this I was told that as long as the average week over 17 weeks was 37 hours it was fine and as I had a rest day during the week there was not an issue. I pointed out that could mean they as us to do a 60 hour week and then a 14 hour week which still averages out at 37. Can you confirm if they can change our hours like this to suit the business or if legally I can refuse to work the rota without any action being taken against me please?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Have they given you any option to 'opt' out' of the extended working week at all?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No opt out, just a choice of 2 rotas, one with 5 individual weekend days and another with 5 days worked as 2 x doubles and a single. The majority vote will rule and it has been voted for the 2nd opton which I described.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, Sorry, forgot I have to leave now for an appointment. Will be back after 4pm if possible to call then. Thanks

Hi there. Thank you for your request for a phone call. I am unable to talk at the moment as I am in court today but please do leave it with me. I will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

Many thanks for your patience. It appears that your contract states you are expected to work 37 hours per week as the business requires. I could not see anything that says it would be an average of 37 hours per week or provide a reference period over which this average would be measured. So to try and claim that they can ask you to work whatever hours they want a week, as long as it averages out at 37, when no mention is made of averages in the contract, is going to be somewhat unreasonable.

So you can potentially refuse this working pattern but if the workforce have as a majority decided to accept this change and most have gone on to work under these terms, it could be deemed a reasonable change for the workforce. Therefore, if you refuse to work this new pattern the employer could consider disciplinary action for your failure to adhere to this. Whether they can go as far as dismissal is questionable as you have a 15 year service with them but they could issue a warning for your failure to follow this if it is widely accepted in the company.