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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 71324
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I work as an Area Manager and need some advice with my

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Hi I work as an Area Manager and need some advice with my contract. My contract states that my working hours are 9-5 Monday to Friday but that I am likely to be required to work additional hours in order to properly perform my duties.
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I was not told until after I had finished my training that part of my duties was to involve a specific task that needs to be completed every day including saturday and sunday. My contract doesn't mention working sundays and although I agreed to disapply the 48 hour weekly working time limit I feel that this is a breach of contract as currently I cannot have a weekend off from work unless I book the Friday off as a holiday
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I'm an employee
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no thank you

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Hi there. Can I just check, is this particular task rotated between employees?

If possible, please upload a copy of the contract on here, and have you actually started the job now?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
No its part of my daily duties as an Area Manager and yes I've already started the job.

OK thank you, ***** ***** able to upload a copy of the contract on here please? and how long have you been working there for?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Unfortunately I do not have my contract to hand at the moment

OK no problem and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. Can I just check how long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I have worked for the company for 5 years and always assumed that I had to work the weekends due to opting out of the 48hour working week but have recently been told that if my contract doesn't state that I am to work Sundays then they are in breach of contract but I don't know if this is correct or not.

Thank you very much for clarifying. So have you worked weekends throughout these 5 years?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
every weekend. The only way I can get a weekend off is to book the Friday off as holiday

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:

https://www.acas.org.uk/grievance-procedure-step-by-step

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.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thank you and I understand about working additional hours as and when the business requires but this is set in stone so to speak. I wasn't asked to work extra hours, I was told I had to work the weekends. I did in fact query this with our H.R Department and all they said was that I had opted out of the 48hr working week. When my company merged with another one the area managers from that company were then paid extra to work on the weekends and after new contracts had been signed they were then told they didn't have to work Sundays which is why I'm now querying if it is a breach of contract as the duties I perform on the weekends are part of my normal daily duties and not overtime.
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I forgot to add that I work in retail and having looked at the Gov.uk website it states that Having to work on a Sunday depends on whether it’s mentioned in either the person’s:employment contract
written statement of terms and conditions
A worker can’t be made to work on Sundays unless they agreed it with their employer and put it in writing (for example, changed the contract).
It is this that has led me to question breach of contract as I find it hard to accept that my company can tell me that I can never have a day off at the weekend despite the law stating that I am entitled to one day off a week.

Hello, thank you for your further queries, I will be happy to answer these. If you are a retail worker, you will have certain other rights (sorry I did not realise your line of work).

The issue is that the protected workers which get that protection against Sunday work are only those who were employed by their employer on or before 26 August 1994. If you started after that date you won’t get the legal protection you referred to against opting out from Sunday work and the only way to challenge it is if Sunday work is not in your contract. However….as discussed previously, this could have now become an implied contractual term due to the length of time it has been in place for

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