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I have worked as a Band 6 Deputy Ward Manger for the past few years. My line manager is my ward manager (Band 7). There are also two senior charge nurses (Band 7) on permanent nightshift. The nightshift jobs have always been Band 7 posts since I came into the NHS 14 years ago and were advertised as such when they both became vacant around five years ago, at which point none of the band 6’s applied. Two band 7’s were appointed and as such we have never had to work nightshift since then. A senior nurse is retiring very soon and we have been told that, without any discussion, the post will not be filled in the immediate future and that the Band 6’s will be forced to rotate onto night shift. My question is, although our contracts state our posts are “rotational” to cover all shifts, we are being expected to act up into a post which has been advertised and paid at a higher level for many years. Can my employer make us do this? Effectively one person will work half the week being paid a band 7 and someone else will be expected to do the same job the other half of the week at a lower grade. I also wondered as to the rotating people onto shifts they haven’t worked for many years. Do we have to do it?
There are many changes which will be made to an employee’s contractual terms throughout the period of their employment, for example, their pay may increase. Most of these changes will be accepted by the employee as they will be uncontroversial. However, sometimes employers will want to do something that the employee is less willing to accept, which seems to be the case here.
You have stated that within your contract there is a specific flexibility clause which means that your employer can ask you to cover all of the shifts relevant to your role. If it is that you have only worked day shifts for a number of years (it is not clear from your answer whether it is from the point you started 14 years ago, or for the last five years), there may be an argument to say that your contract has changed, by way of custom and practice, ie that even though there is a clause to say you should and will cover all shifts where necessary, you have only ever been expected to work day shifts and therefore to change that over now would be a change to your terms of employment and you would need to be consulted, given that to now ask you to work night shifts it may be extremely detrimental to you.
Furthermore, if you are employed as a Band 6 nurse, this should not be taken to mean that you can simply be expected to step up into a Band 7 position, as this is not the position you are employed to do. If it is that your employer is asking you to do the work of a Band 7, then your pay and other contractual terms should be changed to reflect this. You say that you will be expected to take charge of a shift with a Band 7 employee. In your line of work, there could be serious health and safety issues, given the duty of care you have to patients if you do not have the relevant qualifications and skills to do this work. If your employer is now saying that the role could be undertaken by a Band 6, they need to ensure and show you that they have assessed the position and should really consult with each of the people this affects if so.
These points need raising with your employer, either informally or by way of a grievance.