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I have a question about an issue that my employer is proposing to enforce on myself and my colleagues. Due to a recent situation where staffing levels fell short the management are proposing to enforce a contact change whereby employees may be compelled to provide shift cover with little or no notice. This would impact on the personal lives of myself (as a single parent) and my colleagues in similar ways.

Is this proposed change to our contracts legal and is it something that can be imposed upon us considering the problems it will inevitably cause to all our personal lives?

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Simple answer is that if your contract is specific in terms of hours to be worked and does not include a clause permitting the cover that your employer wishes to impose then No you cannot be forced to accept. There is a big 'but# however in that the employer can, in the absence of an agreement, opt to terminate your contract and to re-employ you on the new terms. You would then have the choice of accepting (but then surely you would have done that anyway!) or rejecting the offer and resigning. Whilst you might then have a case for Constructive Dismissal, they employer's position will be strengthened if they have offered re-engagement, if there was a period of consultation, and if the changes were necessary and 'reasonable' in the interests of maintaining the operation of the business - and in the current climate, one supposes that a Tribunal would give a good deal of latitude on that point.

 

Are you able to negotiate and perhaps collectively propose alternatives which would still provide cover whilst not inconveniencing everybody? Alternatively, there may be a discriminatory angle to explore - as a single parent with childcare responsibilities, it may be that you are likely to be more severely affected than colleagues who do not have childcare to worry about?

 

Certainly worth a grievance, outlining the impact that the shift changes will have on childcare and this would serve notice on the employer that he needs to tread carefully and explore all other avenues.


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