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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 60451
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have worked 2 and a half years o the same shift pattern

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Hi I have worked 2 and a half years o the same shift pattern and now my employer has totally changed the shifts. I work 4 12 hour night shifts with 4 days off. Now he has said that we must work 7am-4 and 3pm - midnight 5 days of 8 hour shifts and 2 days off. Is this a breach of contract?
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: no not yet
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: i am an employee and no union
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no i dont think so

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

Does your contract say anything about this please?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
you asked me if my contract says anything about this. Under Hours of Service it does say: Given the nature of the Company's business you may be called upon to vary your normal working hours... So I guess I haven't got much of a case.. But I am going to ave reduced wages because of this variation. Can I do anything about that?

Thank you. The contract could indeed allow the employer to potentially change your shift pattern but they should still consult with you over the proposed changes and give you sufficient notice before the changes are implemented.

Also, if your pay will be affected they should at least try and minimise the potential effects of that by finding the most favourable solution that has the smallest negative impact.

If you wanted to challenge them, the following options are available to employees to challenge these actions:

1. If the employer forces the changes through, the employee can start working on the new terms, then write to the employer making it clear that this is done ‘under protest’. This means that they do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do it as they have no other option. In the meantime, they should try and resolve the issue by raising a formal grievance with the employer. This is only a short-term solution though as the longer someone works under the terms, even under protest, the more likely it is that they will eventually be deemed to have accepted them.

2. If the employer gives notice to terminate the current contract and re-engages the employee under a one, it could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can try and justify their actions if they had a sound business reason for doing so, usually from an urgent financial perspective. If no such reason exists, it is possible to make a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal, subject to having at least 2 years’ continuous service with that employer. This would be on the grounds that there has technically been a dismissal because the original contract was terminated by the employer.

3. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., it is also possible to resign and claim constructive dismissal. The employee must accept the changes and immediately resign in response to them. A claim is again dependent on the employee having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you for your responses.

All the best

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