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Can I be made to work more hours than my contract?

(21 Posts)
VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 08:43:58

My union rep says no but my boss says yes!

My contract is for 22.5hrs per week. Shifts are 7.5 hours. I do 3 days a week.

Work are changing shifts to 12 hour shifts and 7 hour shifts. The expectation being that we have no choice in whether we do long or short shifts but it could be LNG one week, short the next or a combination of both in a week.

Obviously this doesn't add up in any combination to 22.5hrs. Work says it will balance out over a month. Some weeks we will be under our hours, some weeks over.

I don't want to do this and neither do most of my colleagues. Can we be made to?

flowery Tue 08-Jul-14 08:49:31

What does your contract say about changing hours or terms and conditions generally, how long shifts are or how your 22.5 hours are to be worked?

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 09:01:27

Ok, have found contract.

It says my hours are 22.5 hrs per week.

Ten says,

Within your contracted hours the employer may, following consultation, alter your daily working hours and/or normal working pattern.

So what does that mean? They can change my hours but it still needs to be 22.5 per week?

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 09:02:23

My contract doesn't say anything about length of shift or how the 22.5 hours are to be worked.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 09:08:08

I work for the nhs and I believe my contract is based on agreed Agenda For Change principles.

I've googled for a copy of Agenda To Change and found this info on working hours, none of which are mentioned in my contract,

The standard hours of all full-time NHS staff covered by Agenda for Change will be 371/2 hours excluding meal breaks, subject to the protection and assimilation arrangements set out in Section 46. Working time will be calculated exclusive of meal breaks except where individuals are required to work during meals, in which case such time should be counted as working time.

10.2 The standard hours may be worked over any reference period, for example 150 hours over four weeks or annualised hours, with due regard for compliance with employment legislation such as the Working Time Regulations.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 15:31:07


Drquin Tue 08-Jul-14 15:38:52

I'm not a NHS person so no idea about th Agenda for change, sorry.
But your earlier extract from your contract about altering hours or patterns, following consultation sounds like what they're doing at the moment.
The consultation bit should allow them to suggest why they want to change, and you / unions to suggest changes / agree / disagree.

Are you on your own on this own, or is it a departmental / wider change?
The hours do even out - 2 x 12 hour shifts one week, plus 3 x 7 hours the next equals 45 hours over two weeks, so exactly the 22.5 hrs "average" per week you're doing. So, your main interest presumably is going to be how is impacts you e.g. Does a 12 hours shift twice a week give you childcare issues that a seven hour shift didn't etc

Middleagedmotheroftwo Tue 08-Jul-14 15:43:30

Your employer can't force you to do more hours than your contract says you do, but it can, with consultation and notice, change your contract - you can either accept the change to contract, or leave (usually).

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 15:47:18

Yes we're having a 45 day "consultation" period at the minute. Though the electronic off duty system has been changed already so that septs shifts are the new long and short shifts. We haven't finished the consultation yet but it seems to be more of a box ticking exercise.

Its a dept wide change. The unions are involved and not happy and are bringing up stuff like childcare issues.

flowery Tue 08-Jul-14 15:52:19

Well if they're in consultation and involving unions they are doing the right things in line with your contract, and assuming the union is half decent it will challenge the change if people are not happy. I'm not sure there's a lot to add really, as you are represented by a union who are already involved.

PeterParkerSays Tue 08-Jul-14 15:53:32

The team I manage work an average of 36.3 hours a week, over 11 weeks, so some weeks will do more hours than that, other weeks will do less but it evens out. So in principle there is nothing wrong with what your employer is asking you do do so long as the hours even out, except that my staff knew that was the package when they signed up, and you didn't.

how you've read the contract is correct - they can alter the range of shifts / times you work so long as they still add up to 22.5 hours.

Your quote from 10.2 would seem to back this up - have they said over how many weeks your 22.5 weekly hours will average out?

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 16:04:59

Thanks, its not looking good is it?

The union seemed to think that they can't change our hours at all, full stop. They haven't said anything to us that they can after consultation. The union have said that they can consult all they want but they can't change our hours. The employer says opposite and it looks like they're right.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 16:05:58

They haven't said how many weeks it will average out over.

Different people work different hours, 15,30, 37.5.

flowery Tue 08-Jul-14 18:06:30

If your union are saying it's a blanket no, then they are wrong. It's not easy to change terms and conditions, however if there is a good business reason for doing so and staff are consulted, it's certainly possible. An argument the union could possibly use is that the proposed structure is indirectly discriminatory as it has a disproportionately negative effect on women, if that is indeed the case.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 18:39:44

Thanks, will mention the indirect discrimination thing to our rep. Its going to cause massive childcare issues as shift times will change and there's no childcare available early enough.

HaPPy8 Tue 08-Jul-14 18:44:16

Im nhs OP and they did this to us, after the obligatory consultation period. Short shifts gotten rid of completely and now everyone on long shifts of 12 hours. Where your hours don't fit, they average it over time. Lots of people were very unhappy and the unions were involved but ultimately we had no say and it was changed on a perceived 'business need.' Sorry.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jul-14 18:47:55

Yeah, I have a bad feeling that we won't successfully fight this.

Metalgoddess Wed 09-Jul-14 07:57:56

They changed our contracts so that the hours were monthly instead of weekly meaning some weeks we do more days and less the following week so it all balances out over the month. We did get union in to fight it but if I remember rightly there is no way out of it as so long as you are given a notice period they can change the contract.

ThePinkOcelot Thu 10-Jul-14 22:28:52

This is happening in the Trust I work in too. They are starting to say we need to do 7 day working (admin) and not many people want to do that. I certainly don't! Change never seems to be for the better does it?!

VivaLeBeaver Thu 10-Jul-14 22:45:21

The union again today reckon they can only change our contract if we agree to the changes.

I'm really not sure they're right. I heard an nhs trust in the south west changed everyone's contracts and basically terminated everyone's employment and rehired them on new contracts. People were told they could accept the new contracts or leave.

flowery Fri 11-Jul-14 08:21:16

Termination and re-engagement is a possibility yes, and as long as they've consulted properly, and have good business reasons for the change, that is not that risky a step. It's difficult to change terms and conditions but it's certainly not impossible if you need to and jump through the right hoops.

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