Thank you. The contract does not need to specifically mention weekends for you to have to work them. The clause which states you could be asked to work additional hours could cover hours during any time of the week, be it a weekday or a weekend. We have very similar contracts solicitors – usually we are contracted to work Mon-Fri, with a clause that we can be asked to work additional hours as and when the business requires it and it is not uncommon to work weekends as well if there is a deal that needs to be completed or a court case that needs to be prepared for.
The other issue is that you have done that extra work without formally challenging the employer for 5 years. That will most likely mean that you have basically accepted the situation as it is and it has become an implied contractual term that you will work weekends if needed. This is known as ‘custom and practice’ where something that is applied consistently and without being challenged can eventually become an implied contractual term, even if not specifically written down.
You can still challenge the employer if you wanted to and that will be done by raising a formal grievance.
You can get a detailed explanation of the grievance process here:
In summary, an employee is expected to submit their concerns in writing and send them to their line manager, or whoever is nominated as the person to send grievances to under an official workplace grievance policy.
The complaint should include details of what the grievance is about, any evidence that may exist which is relevant and also what the employee wants their employer to do about this issue.
Once the grievance has been submitted, the employer is expected to arrange a formal grievance hearing, inviting the employee to attend and discuss the nature of their complaint. The meeting is also as an opportunity to ask for further clarification or information, as required.
Following the meeting, the employer will take time to consider all the issues and evidence and then make a decision, communicating it to the employee. If the outcome is not to the complainant’s satisfaction, they can appeal and get a second opinion from a different person assigned by the employer to consider the appeal. Once the appeal is also completed, that brings to an end the formal grievance process and there is no option to escalate it further internally.