I am a permanent employee contracted to working 20 hours per week. In addition I have a letter
confirming my hours are from 10-2pm. We were recently called into a meeting where we were
presented with new draft rotas with different working patterns for different days and one shift
working till 7pm. I am a single parent with young child with childcare commitments. What are my
The first thing to check is your contract to see if this has a clause in it giving your employer flexibility to amend your hours or duties to suit the needs of the business. If it does not then you have a contractual right to work those fixed hours and this can only be changed with your agreement. However, your employer is entitled to organise its business in a way which best suits it and the needs of its clients and customers and so if they have concluded they need different shifts then they will consult with their workforce to see if they can get them to agree to them.
It is important that your employer takes into consideration personal circumstances of all employees such as childcare responsibilities, disabilities, caring responsibilities and as much as possible finds a rota that works for everyone. However, if they cannot get your agreement then it is open to them to serve you notice to bring your current contract to an end and formally offer you the new rota in a new contract and if you do not accept it, then it will generally (if they have followed a fair process) be a fair dismissal on the grounds of ‘some other substantial reason/business reorganisation’.
It is not a redundancy because the work still needs to be done, only differently. If such rota changes will generally disadvantage women with childcare responsibilities then there is the possibility of a claim for indirect sex discrimination, but your employer has a defence of objective justification.
So if they can persuade a tribunal that these shift patterns are needed to meet the needs of the business and that there is no other proportionate way of doing it then they are likely to successfully defend any such claim.
So if you can see a better way of organising the shifts which would fit in with customer requirements and suits you and other working mums then make sure you tell your employer and ask them to explain why they are not prepared to change the shifts in this way.