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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 73901
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My company put us on what they term as a COVID shift last

Customer Question

Good Morning Pearl, My company put us on what they term as a COVID shift last March and state that the government allowed them to do this without any consultation. This involved us working early and back shifts as opposed to day shift. They also reduced our working week from 40hrs to 35hrs. They state now that we do not have any contract to work 35hrs/wk. as the Government allowed them to do what was necessary without changing contracts so we are still contracted to work 40hrs/wk. They say they have not breached our 40hrs/wk contract. Are they correct with these statements? They now want to discard the COVID shift do we have any legal claim to remain on a 35hr/wk? I'm based in Scotland
JA: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: HR say that they have been advised by CIPD
JA: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: Employees un-unionised
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: So these questioned have been raised now as they want to change are times of work on a permanent bases and we are are now engaged in consultation meetings. The new times put forward are not the same as the COVID shift implemented in March 2020
Submitted: 18 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

Can I just check how long you have worked for this employer please? and if possible, please upload a copy of your existing contract on here so that I may take a look

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
about 9 years
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** upload a copy of your existing contract on here so that I may take a look

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
File attached (3GT1V2V)
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Appendix d has changed since these original docs were issued. I'll send the latest when I can find them
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

Thank you. 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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. I am not sure what Government regulations the employer is referring to as allowing them to change the contracts as and when they wish. They may have been able to make some changes to reduce the mixing of people, such as ensuring the shifts are not staggered toom close to each other to reduce the probability of too many people being in the same place at the same time. However, these changes are unlikely to have bene permanent and would have only been dictated by the necessities at the time, so once these are no longer needed, they should resume to your original contract. I do not see that you have a legal right to remain on 35h a week if the changes were simply temporary in response to the Covid situation.

If you still wanted to challenge the employer you can do so through a grievance, perhaps as a group. 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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

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.