Back from maternity leave- work trying to change my pattern

(31 Posts)
Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 17:05:12

I am returning from maternity leave and my employers are trying to change my work pattern.
I had a set work pattern of two and a half days set days and a floating day which could be used at evenings or weekends or on my non working days. There were never any issues with this.
I am now returning and they want me to do three and a half set days- so I can't have the floating day anymore.

I have argued that this pattern is an implied term of my contract as I have worked it for two years and I am reliant on it for childcare.
They are saying that is irrelevant as my contract does not state my specific work pattern and therefore they can change it at any time.

Is this correct? What can I do? I would be so grateful for any advice as this is ruining the final months of my maternity leave, as they have been dragging this out for months.

OP’s posts: |
flowery Fri 26-Jul-19 17:21:14

What does your contract actually say?

Yes if someone has worked a particular pattern consistently for two years it is likely to have become part of their terms and conditions by custom and practice, therefore isn't easily changed.

Why are they saying you can't do this now?

Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 17:29:53

They are saying that it does not meet the business needs of the service. That it's flexible for me but not for them as they have one day of my working week which I am unavailable for. That there is one day a week when service users could not contact me or I could not be in the office. I dispute this as i am required to do visits out of hours which I claim back, we speak to service users remotely from mobiles and laptops and there isn't enough desks in our office for all our team to sit.

They said they couldn't let any other members of my team have this work pattern which is another reason I can't have it. If they agreed it was an implied term I think it would override that final point?

OP’s posts: |
Soontobe60 Fri 26-Jul-19 17:36:13

Are you saying you're contracted to work for 3.5 days but only 2.5 of these in the office? It possibly sounds to me like they don't believe you're actually working that extra day so want to pin you down to a specific day. I'm afraid that your childcare issues are not something they need to consider.
How long have you actually had this as a working pattern, before going in mat leave?

Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 17:42:16

My job isn't an office based job. I am out in the community half the time. The job is mainly report writing, which can be done from home or the office but they are now pushing for it to be done from the office. There are no issues about whether I am working as I have always been fully accountable and my work has always been up to date, I do know there were issues for other members of the team who were doing lots of work from home and not up to date- but no one else had a set pattern like me.

My understanding was that they do need to take it into account if you have become reliant on this working pattern and either honour this or look for ways to resolve it. Because it is an implied term which makes up the terms and conditions of your contract. I had worked this pattern for a year and a half prior to maternity leave.

OP’s posts: |
RebootYourEngine Fri 26-Jul-19 17:45:39

It all depends on what your contract says.

Does it says that one day is a float day? A huge national well known supermarket are in the process of changing all of their employees contracts to one contract and it is legal.

Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 17:55:48

It was never written in my contract, although I thought it had been sad but it was a set pattern of three set days and one flexible day

OP’s posts: |
RebootYourEngine Fri 26-Jul-19 18:10:54

Does your contract say anything about them changing your work pattern to suit the business needs? Or that your contract hours are flexible?

StrawberryPeach Fri 26-Jul-19 18:17:11

Have you applied for flexible working? I’m pretty sure everyone is entitled to do so and they will have to take into account the hours/days you previously worked?

flowery Fri 26-Jul-19 18:18:32

Your contract must say something about your working hours, what does it say?

I have to say, having a floating 'day' which could be worked in bits and pieces evenings/weekends/whenever you like does sound a bit problematic in terms of people management, holiday arrangements, contact, etc etc.

That doesn't mean they can just announce they're changing it, if that pattern has become your terms and conditions by custom and practice. But it does mean that they could construct a reasonable business case why that change needs to happen.

flowery Fri 26-Jul-19 18:19:27

"Have you applied for flexible working? I’m pretty sure everyone is entitled to do so and they will have to take into account the hours/days you previously worked?"

Flexible working applications are for if you want to change something. OP just wants to keep her working pattern as it already was.

StrawberryPeach Fri 26-Jul-19 18:22:14

But as it wasn’t written into the contract surely they can apply for flexible working to have it written into the contact taking into consideration that’s already the hours OP has been working?

Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 18:33:15

My contract doesn't list my work pattern. It says they have a flexible working policy where I am expected to be flexible within reasonable limits of my normal work pattern and that they can give reasonable notice to change my working pattern

OP’s posts: |
RebootYourEngine Fri 26-Jul-19 18:54:56

That one tiny last sentence means that they can change your hours.

Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 18:58:30

But isn't that only if it reasonable? How do they justify what reasonable?

OP’s posts: |
DC3dilemma Fri 26-Jul-19 19:02:58

Speak to your union -you may need them to mediate.

I totally understand @Flowersandpineapples as I have a similar working pattern of 2.5 days and 1.0 day flexi/working from home. Every so often someone puts something in the diary for me, at work, in one of these flexi sessions not understanding I may have already worked it earlier in the week in the evening, and my childcare is based around the 2.5 days in work. I’m currently trying to get it all clearly in writing for going back post mat leave.

swingofthings Fri 26-Jul-19 19:25:12

The problem is that before, it is assumed that they could have asked you to attend a meeting for instsce on your floating day and nothing could have stopped you. Now you want that extra day because of childcare so they are losing the flexibility you could offer them back.

Also 5bey will be aware that working evenings and weekends is much more difficult with a child. They probably never doubted you meeting the demand of the job before but are probably worried you might not be able to now.

To be fair, I don't blame them. Working evenings and weekends is a lot easier when you are child free than with a baby who might not be kind to let you do the work when you need to.

flowery Fri 26-Jul-19 19:25:21

"But as it wasn’t written into the contract surely they can apply for flexible working to have it written into the contact taking into consideration that’s already the hours OP has been working?"

No, as I said, flexible working requests are to change working patterns. Asking to have her contract reflect her current working pattern is a reasonable request, but it doesn't come under flexible working legislation.

flowery Fri 26-Jul-19 19:31:34

"My contract doesn't list my work pattern. It says they have a flexible working policy where I am expected to be flexible within reasonable limits of my normal work pattern and that they can give reasonable notice to change my working pattern"

Your contract doesn't even say anything about how many hours you are contracted to work? How odd! Is that usual for where you work?

I disagree that the last sentence automatically entitles them to change it.

Contract clauses stating flexibility around contract hours or giving the right to vary generally have to actually be used in order to be enforceable. If an employer puts wording in saying they have the right to vary hours, but in practice never ever does, so everyone works 9-5 Monday to Friday, year after year, no variety, nothing, then that clause wouldn't automatically entitle them to suddenly decide everyone has to work night shifts, or work Saturdays. It's not as easy as just putting a clause in and you can do what you like.

I agree that a degree of reasonableness is required. But their request that your contracted working time is set days rather than vague hours at whatever point you choose outside normal working times sounds pretty reasonable to be honest.

Why are you reliant on having a floating day for childcare purposes?

lostfrequencies Fri 26-Jul-19 19:39:03

I am also unsure how a floating day is of benefit for you. Surely a set day works better in terms of childcare arrangements?

Frankola Fri 26-Jul-19 19:48:29

I'm sorry but if it isn't in your contract it isn't confirmed and unchangeable.

It sounds like your previous pattern suited you but not the business.

They shouldn't just expect you to change though. I'd negotiate with them?

flowery Fri 26-Jul-19 20:17:24

”I'm sorry but if it isn't in your contract it isn't confirmed and unchangeable.”

Not true at all. Have a google around implied terms and custom and practice. Perfectly possible to have something that is very firmly contractual without being specifically stated in a contract.

Flowersandpineapples Fri 26-Jul-19 22:40:23

My partner works shift works so I can come in on non working days (and have done in the past) but I just can't commit to the same time each week. However as a large proportion of my work is report writing and writing up case notes it always worked well for me to do this in the evening when the children were asleep. It filled in time sheets so my employer knew when I had worked. There really weren't any problems with this at the time, and I was always very up to date.

Flowery how is it decided what is reasonable? They are arguing that my hours are not an implied term of my contract because this is over ridden by the contractor stating they can be changed at anytime. Is this right?

OP’s posts: |
RebootYourEngine Sat 27-Jul-19 14:45:32

It is reasonable that your employer needs to know what days you are working.

flowery Sat 27-Jul-19 14:53:30

”They are arguing that my hours are not an implied term of my contract because this is over ridden by the contractor stating they can be changed at anytime. Is this right?”

Not quite, no, or not necessarily. What counts as reasonable depends on the change really, and why it’s needed. In this case they are not reducing your hours or affecting your pay. All they are doing is saying it no longer meets the requirements of the organisation to have you ‘making up’ your hours by doing bits and pieces at evenings and weekends when they don’t know when/whether you’re working. That doesn’t seem massively unreasonable to me I’m afraid.

If you already fix two and a half days, can you not use the same childcare for the third day?

Or, propose a compromise. If you don’t want to do a fixed day because you want to use your partner for childcare and he works shifts, could you suggest that your third day isn’t fixed as such, but you notify them which day it will be once you have your partner’s shift details? That way they get you available during the working week for the full three and a half days they are paying you for, but you get a bit of flexibility.

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