Most employers include some sort of flexibility in contracts of employment which allow them to adapt their business as things change. This flexibility may allow for an adjustment to your hours of work, shift pattern, or work location.
Although an employer can seek to change your working hours, there must be a valid reason for doing so, and the aim should be to mutually agree the change with you. This isn't always possible, but there is guidance in place which guides your manager through the correct process to try and reach agreement with you. This includes understanding your circumstances and any special consideration that needs to be given to caring responsibilities or other causes of significant personal difficulty for you.
It's important to note that although the business can request a change to your hours of work (i.e. your shift pattern), they cannot reduce the number of hours you are contracted to work.
A key question to ask, is whether you are the only person being asked to make a change. If you are, and there are other colleagues who could adjust their hours of work, then you may have a valid challenge to say you are being treated unfairly. There may be good reason why you are being asked - for example they may know about or be accommodating another colleague's health or have made a reasonable adjustment for a disability, or caring responsibilities.
It's important to be objective and to think about your individual circumstances rather than another colleagues. But where you don't feel you are being listened to, or your individual circumstances are being ignored, we suggest setting up a meeting with your manager, or their manager to discuss your situation and try to resolve this locally. If you are unable to reach agreement, your employer may be able to enforce a change by issuing you notice. In these situations, we suggest you consider raising a grievance to challenge the decision that has been made.
Sometimes it's not possible to agree a change immediately as there may be unknowns as to how the change will work in practice. In circumstances where you're unsure if the change is going to be suitable for you, it may be sensible to discuss different compromises, trial a different way of working to see how it works for you and your team or even to set up a Behavioural Experiment to fully understand the impact changes might have.
Unable to agree a change:
The aim should always be to seek a mutually agreeable change, so where agreement can't be reached in the first instance this should continue to be managed locally with your manage to explore all available options and continue to work with you to find something that will work for everyone.
If all options have been exhausted, your manager may consider giving you notice to implement the change but they must seek guidance from HR before doing so. If you're issued with notice of a change and your still unhappy about this then you do have the right to raise a grievance, and we would always recommend grievances are concluded before any change is formally implemented.
You should be provided with a minimum of one months' notice of any change, in writing regardless of whether you reach agreement on the change. This is to ensure you have some time to put in place any arrangements that are necessary to accommodate the change. We would always recommend your employer provides more notice where possible, and they can provide up to 3 months' notice to you.
Transitional arrangements, usually between 4 to 12 weeks, can be agreed where extra help is needed to adjust to the changes.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly, or your requests are being unreasonably denied, you can talk to one of our local reps, or your Accord officer for support.