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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50488
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I'm contracted 45 hours Monday to Friday and have agreed

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I'm contracted 45 hours Monday to Friday and have agreed that I am willing to work more than 48 hours. I've always believed that overtime was voluntary but I've now been told I have been scheduled to work Monday to Saturday for the foreseeable future. Still working 45 hours Monday to Friday. Are there any employment laws being breached by my employer by forcing me to work overtime?

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

Do you have a copy of your contract for me to look at please? Also, how long have you been working there for?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi I have been with the company for around 18 months. I will be able to send a copy of my contract at a latter time. But attached is a page from the employee hand book referring to working hours and overtime. as stated before am I obliged to work overtime like this? Also I have given notice of unavailability to work certain Saturday's and have been told that this has been declined. Is this possible given that notice was given well over 14days ahead of said date.

OK, thank you for your response and the attachment. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you in a short while. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your questions to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. Looking at the handbook, it specifically states that you have agreed to work additional hours as required by the company. However, it is important to note that they have provided specific examples as to when you may be asked to work such additional hours. They have mentioned things such as covering for short notice absences of colleagues. What they appear to have done here instead is to have asked you to increase your hours for an indefinite period of time – this is not down to absences by colleagues it seems to be driven by the needs of the business, for example because they have an increased workload at present.

Whilst you are able to challenge them over this and point them to the clause which says when you may be asked to work overtime and that they are basically trying to change your hours on a more permanent basis, your rights will be somewhat limited. This is due to the length of time you have been working there for.

If you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you or force you to leave for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, etc.).

So what could easily happen is that you refuse to do the additional hours and in response they just sack you. As you do not have protection against this you cannot challenge any potential dismissal. So bear this in mind when you decide on how to proceed.

I'm sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you were hoping for, however I do have a duty to be honest and explain the law as it actually stands. This does mean delivering bad news from time to time. I hope you understand and would be happy to provide any further clarification if needed. If you are still satisfied with the level of service you have received I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thsnk you for your help. Is there any employment regulations referring to notice of mandatory work? I average around 10 hours a week overtime as things are at the minute.
Also is there any regulation regarding notice? As I mentioned in the previous email, I gave notice stating I wouldn't be available to work certain dates and they have informed me that I must. Is this possible?

Notice in such situations is not covered in law and will, if required, be covered under contract.

In terms of the law on changing terms, 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.