Thank you very much for clarifying. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.
It is not uncommon for contracts to have a clause which allows the employer to ask their employees to work additional hours, over and above their contracted ones. This is pretty much an overtime clause and can be applied as and when necessary by the employer. Overtime pay is not going to be automatically due because there is no legal right to receive overtime pay and that is a consideration for the employer. The only requirement is that based on the hours worked each pay period, your average pay does not fall below the minimum wage.
If there is such a clause, the employer can ask you to work additional hours, be it on your usual working days, or any other day, as the business needs require. Whilst you do not have the automatic right to say no, there may be times when negotiations are possible but it would be down to the employer.
If you have out of work responsibilities which could affect your availability, you may have to look at a potential flexible working request to try and agree a more structured rota, or to be exempt from certain working hours/rotas.
The right to make a flexible working request applies to any employee who has been employed by their employer for at least 26 weeks and is limited to one request in any 12-month period. Examples of the changes that can be applied for in a flexible working request include changes to working hours, times and work location.
The formal way to apply is by completing the following application form:
Once an employer receives a formal request, they must deal with it in a reasonable manner, ideally meeting with the employee to discuss it and, if rejected, communicate their decision within 3 months of the date the initial request was submitted. If the employer is going to have to reject a request, they are only able to do so by relying on any of the following grounds:
- Planned structural changes
- The burden of additional costs
- A detrimental impact on quality
- The inability to recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact on performance
- The inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- Lack of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
Ideally, the employer should also try and explain their decision in writing, such as providing information on why they believe the selected reason for rejection is relevant and they have relied on it.
It is important to note that when selecting the ground for refusal the legal test is mainly a subjective one on the part of the employer. If the employer considers that one of the grounds applies, then the test is satisfied. There is no requirement for reasonableness when the employer makes their decision. It would appear that only if the employer's view is based on incorrect facts, could the decision actually be challenged as incorrect.
Often, the option to appeal will be provided by the employer following their decision. If the appeal is unsuccessful, a formal grievance can be raised to start with, before formal legal action in the Employment Tribunal is considered as the final option.
A claim can only be made on one or more of the following grounds:
- The employer failed to hold a meeting, notify their decision within 3 months or offer a right of appeal
- The reason for refusal was not for one of the allowed reasons
- The rejection was based on incorrect facts
The claim should be presented to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months of either the procedural breach or of the date on which the employee is notified of the appeal decision.