Can My Employer Reduce My Hours?

I am the manager of a taxi firm and work 39 hours per week Monday to Friday.  My boss used to drive my autistic son to his special school until an incident occurred and he refused to take my son on this contract. I reported him to licencing for driving while talking on his mobile. Things have never been the same since and he has now reduced my hours to 16 hours with immediate effect. I will only be working two days a week on minimum wage. He said I can use my holidays this week and start back next Thursday 31st March. My other problem is that he took on a part timer about three weeks ago and this doesn’t affect him, whereas I’ve been here for well over five years. I’m also concerned that he pays other people cash in hand to cover some shifts in the office.

Please can you tell me my rights, as I need to inform working/child tax that I’m going part time.  Can he legally do this to me?  He says things are financially strangling him and will cover my shifts. I’m paid cash, fully on the books, get a weekly wage slip along with a weekly wage.   I claim working tax and child tax credits and am the sole earner in our household. I have never received a written contract, but so far, he’s stuck to all aspects of employment law ie 28 days holidays etc and the correct minimum wage.

Answer still valid as of as of August 2017

Thanks for your question. You have raised a number of questions and there are a number of possible claims which I shall answer in order. This is a summary based on the information given but I always recommend seeking specific employment advice based on full information for this type of complex situation:

Can my employer legally do this to me?

You say that you have never received a written contract. Under Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (“ERA”) an employer is required to give an employee a written statement of particulars setting out their main terms and conditions of employment. A failure to comply with this entitles an employee to refer the matter to an employment tribunal. Where changes are proposed to be made, the ERA states that an amended statement must be provided within one month of the change.

However, just because you don’t have a written employment contract it does not mean that there is no employment contract in existence. Employment contracts are made up of a variety of terms and conditions: there are verbal or written express terms; statutory imposed terms; implied terms which have been created by the courts; and terms which may be incorporated from other documents.

As with all contracts, in order to change an employment contract an employer and employee should ideally need to agree any changes otherwise an attempt by one party (in this case your employer) to force a change could potentially be a breach of contract. In this situation your employer has simply told you that your hours will be reduced from 39 hours to 16 hours a week as a “fait accompli” – take it or leave it. It’s also, however, possible that this is a redundancy situation if your manageress role is disappearing.

Is this a unilateral change of contract or is it a redundancy?

It’s not always easy to determine whether changes to a job mean it’s a redundancy situation or just a unilateral variation of contract. Based on the information given it could be either scenario so I’ve set out both possibilities.

There are only three types of redundancy as defined in the ERA. These are:

  1. Closure of a business – that is not the case here;
  1. Workplace closure – again that is not the case; and
  1. Reduction in the number of employees or carrying out work of a particular kind- it’s not entirely clear whether your manageress role is disappearing and whether you are being forced to take a reduced role as well as reduced hours. In this situation a reduction of work from full-time to part-time will not automatically mean a redundancy it will depend on the tasks you will now be required to carry out and the skills required to perform. As your boss is taking on three out of five of your working days then your role may well be redundant.

As you have more than two years’ continuous employment with your employer you will be entitled to a redundancy payment.

If your job has become redundant, your employer has certain obligations. These obligations include giving or paying you notice, statutory redundancy pay, consultation with you to try and prevent your job disappearing and the consideration and offer if available of suitable alternative employment. If the terms offered differ from the previous contract you are entitled to a statutory trial period of four weeks to decide whether this alternative employment is suitable for you. The key factors of suitability are pay, nature of duties, status, hours and location. If after four weeks you do not find this role suitable you can choose not to accept this role and be made redundant with notice and redundancy pay.

You think you are being unfairly selected in this process. A part-time person has been recruited to cover weekend shifts you don’t work. Without knowing the details of all the other employees it is difficult to state whether this is the case. If you are selected unfairly it could make your redundancy an unfair dismissal, entitling you to make a claim at an Employment Tribunal.

If not a redundancy situation the other option is that your employer is forcing you without consent to change your contract, known as a unilateral variation. In a unilateral variation, you have four possible options which I have briefly summarised below. I always suggest that you take full employment legal advice so that you can weigh up all the pros and cons of each option because they are difficult decisions to make:

  1. You can simply accept the change
  1. You can refuse to accept the change. You would need to raise a grievance with your employer in writing that you don’t accept this change. Your grievance should be in writing setting out all your complaints (e.g that you don’t believe that it is for financial constraints; that it could be that your employer is punishing you for your complaint to licensing about his refusal to take your autistic son – see below for the potential of a disability discrimination claim; and that your boss is going to replace you with other people paying cash). The employer would then need to respond to your grievance. If your employer does not uphold your grievance then you could either:
    1. resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal (a type of unfair dismissal claim at the Employment Tribunal) on the basis that the employer has fundamentally breached the employment contract; or
    1. Alternatively, you could wait and your employer would expect you to accept the change or he will dismiss you for refusing to work under the new regime. You would then be eligible to claim unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunal. The main concern with waiting to be dismissed is that if you wait too long, there is a risk that you have accepted the changes by doing nothing further and working under the new contract.
  1. You can stay at work, accept the changes “under protest” and sue your employer in the Employment Tribunal or County Court for damages for breach of contract. Again, you would need to raise a grievance with your employer and then if the grievance fails you would claim. The concern with this option is that if you delay in making your claim you may be treated as if you have waived your right and accepted the change. Your employer may still dismiss you, in which case you would have an unfair dismissal claim at the Employment Tribunal.
  1. You can resign or stay and bring a claim under s23 of the ERA for an unlawful deduction of your wages without your consent.

Why am I being asked to take my holiday now before starting the new arrangement?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 give all full time employees a statutory holiday entitlement of 28 days including the public holidays. Part time employees are entitled to the pro-rata equivalent of 28 days depending upon the number of days worked. You or your employer can decide when some or all of your holidays must be taken by giving advance notice. The Regulations provide that the notice should be at least twice as long as the holiday requested but you may have different rules in your office. There is no particular reason why you had to use your holiday. I suspect that your employer does not want you to carry forward all your full-time entitlement because you may have too much holiday to take before the end of the holiday year.

Has this happened because of the issues with my autistic son and my employer?

If you have been treated less favourably by your employer by reason of your association with your son who has a disability, you may have suffered direct disability discrimination by association. This may entitle you to make a disability discrimination claim at the Employment Tribunal. You will need to seek specific legal advice about whether this claim is available based on your circumstances.

Will I still be eligible for Working Tax Credit?

Working Tax Credit is paid to those who work but who are on low income. It is based on the hours you work and get paid for. As a mother you need to work a minimum of 16 hours a week to qualify. You need to notify your Working Tax Credit Office of your reduced hours to ensure you receive the correct amount of benefits.

recruitment, part time staff, flexible work


Comments [58]

  • sue says:

    when I started my job I was working 12 hours a week along with another cleaner, when he left my manager asked we to work 25 hours which I have done for 11 months, I have never had a contract, they now want me to work 20 hours but sign a contract for 15 hours, can you give me any advice

  • Beverley bull says:

    I have just been given a new contract that states I am contracted for 39 hours a week. One of the paragraph states that they reserve the right to introduce short term working or reduce my hours during a period of layoff without pay when necessary to avoid redundancies or where there is a shortage of work. No one else has this written in their contact. I don’t want to sign this as I am not sure where I said jd if they can do this. I appreciate that if there is a shortage of work, this could happen but surely it should apply to everyone in the company and not just me.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Have you questioned why this is only in your contract? If you are concerned about it, you should not sign and question it first. Let us know what they say to justify it.

  • HELEN says:

    I work as a domestic and have just had my hours cut from 25 down to 7. The company was taken over and within the week our team were given this news. I am single mother and need 16 hrs to claim working tax credits. Manager says weve to take it or leave it, its a reasonable offer! NOT when you rely on that income to survive its not. He also said i am not entitled to any redundancy but i have worked there for 3 and a half years. Can anyone advise what to do please i am upset.

  • Ms Parker says:

    Hello,I’ve worked for a company for two and a half years,although I’ve never recieved a written contract I’ve always worked 23 hours+. I’m a delivery driver and the other two drivers have only worked there one year,my hours have been reduced without any discussion or notice to myself.The other drivers hours haven’t changed. I’ve made my point that I cannot afford to lose any hours but am faced with a ‘like it it lump it’ attitude.what can I do?

  • Belinda Davis says:

    Hello ,
    I just need advice been working for this company for 2 years when I signed on it was for full time and now I’m barely get 12 to 16 hours a week but last month they approve everyone for a 2.00 raise and now come January they cut our hours tremendously we not even seeing our profit . Please help because something is not right.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Belinda,
      Are you on a zero hours contract? Does your contract guarantee a certain number of hours or is there something that says they can be altered according to business need or something similar? If a certain number of hours are guaranteed, when they were reduced were you consulted about that and your agreement obtained? If you can supply more information that would help our experts. Email [email protected].

  • samantha robson says:

    iv signed a contract for 40hrs after tupe ovrer from a company i worked for 5years for,i have worked the 40hrs contract fo r last 8mths,boss informs me that i will be reduced to24hrs where do i stand on this

  • wendy dickson says:

    I work 25 hours a week i have just been told that my hours will be cut to 17.5 hours a week and that my supervisor will be present on site each day to fulfil the current contracted services as required by the client, what happens if i don’t sign new contract as i don’t agree with it . i have been with this company for 13 months .

  • Claudette says:

    I have been working for a well established grocery store 39 years. 35 years have been as a salaried manager. Recently I have been put on modified hours from my dr. My supervisor now tells me if I can’t work 39 hour or more that I will only be paid 6 hours. A day. Is this legal?

  • Cld says:

    I was asked to sign my contract stating I work 12 hours per week. I was then asked to do 27.5 hours a week, so when I asked for contract to be changed to reflect this, I was told no it will remain at 12 hours as I will only guarantee you 12 hours in case work becomes quiet. I have recently been very poorly and been in hospital since end of February and two weeks ago I had an operation. I will be returning to work this week and have had a return to work meeting and my boss has informed me she will now be cutting my hours to just 18 hours a week and not the 27.5 hours I have been continuously working for the past year. Can you inform me where I stand on this matter please as I didn’t expect to have my hours cut whilst I have been off sick and very poorly

  • Evita Kapitovica says:

    I have been working for a company for over 2.5 years. I started off on an 8 hour contract, in one store as a supervisor. I then transferred to a different branch and my contract got changed to 16 hours. I then done 24 hours a week for a few months and then started to do 40 hours a week as a minimum. This has been so for over a year now. The trouble I’m getting is holiday pay and taking my holiday. I get paid only 4 hours a day due to my contract so I can only take 1 day here or there so I don’t lose out on money. I can’t take a week as I will only get paid for 16 hours. I’ve been told by a few people that if I do a certain amount of hours of work for over 6 months that then becomes my contracted hours? Is this true?

  • lindsay kirtley says:

    Hiya im on a zero hour contract and this week my boss haz cut everyones hours twice with out phoning us to tell us can they do that

  • PP says:

    My daughter applied for a management post 4 months ago. She was hired full time but management post was never mentioned. There was no signed contract, and although wages paid into bank every week there was never any payslips given. Over the last few weeks her hours have been cut by 8hrs or more. This week the owner hired another full time member. On Friday my daughter’s boss called her into office. She implied my daughter wasn’t happy with current hours and that she would would give her two weeks paid holiday to find other work. With option to come back part time if she was unsuccessful in finding another job. She feels that she is being pushed out. Where does she stand? Nothing was done in writing and nothing signed.

  • C fry says:

    I have a 40hour contract however for sixweek I am having to change role due to a health issue, we have agreed on 24hr per week (I was forced!) I have been told there is no work within the light duty role so I will only be paid 6hrs for the week, plus they cannot guarantee there will be work for the six weeks. Can the company do this seeing as I have a 40hr contract as they want me to use my holiday. Thanks

  • Anonymous says:

    My boss has told me and other staff that work a 16 hour contract the over time we have been doing is to stop.This is due to them taking on more staff.meaning they will get the extra hours we had.How is it fair to take the overtime from us after being there over five years.I claimed working tax credit for this as i have to work 30 hours to claim,now i have to lose that claim just for someone else to have those hours,do we have a case to fight for hours back.

    Editor: see

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, I would like to know that if an Employer does not give you a contract before starting to work all suddenly reduces your hours, can they refuse to pay you? There has been no contract or verbal agreement. Also, they are contracting for another company, an email was sent to the company to notify them that maybe they will no longer be using their services. Can this company just lay the people off without giving them 30 days notice? If they can't do that, does the company need to pay these people a pro-rata salary? Thank you

    Editor: Can you explain a bit more. What hours were agreed with you originally? Is it a zero hours contract or were set hours agreed? You say there was not even a verbal agreement. What does that mean?

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been working for the same company via an employment agency for several months now, with working hours of between 35-40 hours per week. In the past couple of weeks, my working hours have been reduced to 12-24 hours per week. This is largely due to the company employing new full time staff, leaving less shifts available for the agency workers. Do I have any employee rights in this case? Is it legal for them to reduce my hours without consent simply because I am employed via an agency?

    Editor: Does your contract state the number of hours you have been hired and have you worked there for more than 12 weeks, at which point you require some permanent rights – see your contract says that your hours can be altered to suit the needs of the business and if there is a good business reason for this then it would be difficult to argue against it.

  • Anonymous says:

    i currently work 29 hrs a week over a 4 day period. Today my boss informally told me that he was intending to reduce my working week to 3 days.He then went on to say he would be employing a 4th person so as to provide better cover in the workplace.
    I have been in this employment for the past 18years and do not feel the need to take a reduction in my hours. What are my right in this situation, can he just reduce my hours to suit the business.

    Editor: As it says above, you should be consulted on any change in the terms and conditions of your contract. Your employer can force them through and dismiss you if you refuse to do the changed hours. You could then claim unfair dismissal – see above where it outlines in detail how this works.

  • Anonymous says:

    iv been working for my employer for 11 years,i was part time at first working 16 hours i had another job to make my hours up to 30.8 years ago the other cleaner left and i was given 30 hour contract and left my other my employer is wanting to cut my hours to 16 and have the bar staff do the cleaning 7n the week when its quiter due to financial restraints can they do this without my consent?

    Editor: How long have you done the 30 hours? When they changed it to 30 hours did they do this on a temporary basis or was it a permanent change to your contract? Does your contract specify that your hours can be changed in accordance with business needs?

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi i have been working three part time jobs for the same company 10 hours as a maintenance man 16.25 hours as a lifeguard and 5 hours as a swimming teacher I only ever received a contract for the maintenance and now they have decided to reduce my hours by 8 hours without any warning can they do this

    Editor: They cannot change your terms and conditions without proper consultation – see You do not say how long you have been working there as you would have to have been there for at least two years to be able to claim unfair dismissal should they sack you if you refuse the changed hours.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi iv worked for a small business for two years and Im. Not long off maternity I was told my hours were being reduced iv always worked 16 hours to claim wtc I have no contract but I'm the only one this is being done too please help.

    Editor: Every worker is entitled to a written contract so you should have one and if you haven't you are still working to conditions which were agreed when you started so if you were hired to work 16 hours that is your contract. If your employer is seeking to change your terms and conditions, they must consult you. When did you return from maternity leave? After six months of maternity leave you are entitled to return to your original job and after nine months to your original job or a suitable alternative [on similar terms and conditions] if that is not available. If you feel you have been targeted because of your maternity leave, you could have a case for discrimination, but you would need to provide further information of the reason for your employer seeking to reduce your hours.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been employed at the same premises (full-time) 37 hours for the past 13 years. New employers have now taken over and want me to reduce my hours to 12 a week. Please help! Redundancy has been mentioned, but they have decided to just cut my hours.

    Editor: They cannot just impose a reduction in hours. Have you been through a consultation process?

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been told my hours are being cut by 10 a week but a new person will take on my hours , I have been given no notification can this happen?

    Editor: You should be fully consulted on any change to your terms and conditions – see

  • Anonymous says:

    If I'm contracted to 8 hours but have only been given shifts amounting to 4 hours do they still have to pay me ? It's happened to a few of my collegues aswell. The work is there to do as there's other collegues who have been given overtime. Thanks

    Editor: What reason have they given for not giving you the full hours? I would question this first and point out that this is in your contract.

    • Kelly nehlig says:

      Hi I’ve worked for a company for just under 2 years the two year period is up on the 6 September 2017 – I’ve worked 38 hours during this whole period – when I got the job I verbally agreed to doing 38 hours – I have no written contract – now I’ve been told that my hours are going to be cut so I would loss 14 hrs each week – where do I stand on this

  • Anonymous says:

    My employer has just informed that my hours have now been reduced without my agreement , notice or discussion. . I have never been given a written statement of employment or a contract of employment. I now face a 40% reduction wages each month.
    I work for a care agency as a support worker , support a young man is his own home together with 4 other support workers. . The young man decided he would like to employ an extra member of staff so decided that my hours would be cut to make way for a new staff member.
    However, he is having problems with recruitment so just decided to split my hours between the existing staff until he can recruit someone else.
    I took this job on with a verbal agreement that I would work 1 long weekend a month , fri,sat,sun, mon plus 3 Monday's. Then was asked to increase it to 3 long weekends a month plus the Mondays.
    Now after one year of working this shift pattern I was informed, as walking out of the door, that it was reduced back to 1 long weekend plus the Mondays, with immediate effect.

    Can my client do this even though I am eloped by the care agency directly not the client?
    His argument is that it's his choice, not his problem and down to the care agency to find me replacement hours.

    Editor: Our HR expert Tara Daynes says the responsibility lies with the agency to find you more hours, not the client since the agency is your employer.



  • Anonymous says:

    My Manager will shortly be going through reducing hours for Christmas, New Year whilst business is quieter. I am a breakfast waitress contracted to 20 hours per week. Her intention is to reduce my hours by 4-6 hours and to make receptionists cover my job role if required whilst they are working on reception. Why can she reduce only the Breakfast Hours when I can also work reception as well. My hours will reduce for approximately 4 months which makes life hard for me. Shouldn't hours be cut across all employees?

    Editor: You would have to provide more information about the business reasons given for this change and what it says in your contract about hours changing according to seasonal demand, etc. Is this normal practice in the winter months? Have you addressed any of these issues with your employer and if so, what has been their response?

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been at my job for 14 years, I am in at 4am to bake then I go to a differant building were I am the superviser, My boss is going to take my morning baking away from me, because he hierd a pastry chef, that he has known for 20 years, I went from being wonderful to a queen bitch, his words that he said to a guy I work with, can he do this to me?

    Editor: If he is going to change your job in any way he must go through a consultation process about changing your terms and conditions which must be fair – see

  • Anonymous says:

    I've just been cut from fulltime hours to part time. I'm not happy about it aPs i need the work and money. They made me sign a new contract and it states as mutually agreed. I signed as I desperately still needed the work even if part time so I signed. Is this acceptable and do I have any rights of recourse now that I signed. Are they allowed to do this. They've said because of new procedures my duties have been cut, but mostly they are just giving my duties to someone else.

    Editor: Our HR expert Sandra Beale says that if you have signed the new contract there is not much you can do.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am on the sick due back mon i claim wtc which my employer kmows i need shecas cut my hours down t 15 while i am on sick canvshe do this

    Editor: What does it say in your contract about your hours? If it specifies certain hours any change is a change of your terms and condition and should only be done in consultation with you – see

  • Anonymous says:

    Pls help i got a contract for 16 hours but my boss said she may reduce my hours to 15 help i am a lone parent i need 16 to claim wtc my contract says change of hours in a negotianal and fair ! This is not fair ! Can she do this

    Editor: If she wants to change your hours she needs to consult and get your agreement – see

  • Anonymous says:

    I have worked 4 days per week for the past 7 years and I would now like to reduce this to 3 days to look after my grandchild. I wrote to my employer on 06/07/14 and have not yet had a reply 20/10/14. I have reminded my manager that I have not had a reply and it should be within 3 month of application under the new act 30/06/14. Where do I stand on this?

    Editor: If you have applied under flexible working legislation – see - they must respond fully within three months. If not, you can lodge a grievance.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have worked in a zero hours contract, but every week I've worked, 40-45 hours, what agreed (with my employee) I will need to work. Last week the cut down my hours for no reason, and to anybody else. Only me. Can they actually do that?

    Editor: It depends what it says in your contract, but what reason did they give and why do you think you were the only one affected?

  • Anonymous says:

    I came back off maternity leave doing my 16 hours over 3 days then my employer kept changing my days and times it ended up I was working 13 hours over 4 days even though am contracted 16 hours and it ended up I was paying out more in child care than I was actually making, can they do that?

    Editor: They cannot change your hours without consultation – see

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi I have worked for a company for 4years my contracted hours are only7.5 per week I have never worked these hours always worked between 16-30 hours per week, now that I am pregnant and coming up to the maternity pay qualifying 15 weeks my hours have been cut to 14 per week I have asked my manager for a extra shift and all I get is I will sort it and nothing has happened, do I have any rights here so stressed.

    Editor:You may have a claim for discrimination and detrimental treatment if your employer iscutting your shifts because of your pregnancy or in order to avoid payment of SMP. There may be circumstances in which a genuine reduction in work will mean that an employer will have to reduce the amount of work offered to its employees but this must be done in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. You should speak to your employer about the reduction in your shifts and, if necessary, you can raise a formal grievance using your employer’s grievance procedure.

    If your pay is reduced during the calculation period for SMP, approximately eight weeks or two months before the 15th week before your baby is due, your SMP may be lower or you may not qualify for SMP at all. If you do not qualify for SMP you can claim Maternity Allowance from the JobCentre Plus. If you think that your employer is deliberately reducing your workload to avoid having to pay SMP you can make a complaint to your local HM Revenue and Customs officer who will make a formal decision. If you are unable to resolve the matter, you should seek legal advice. If you make a discrimination claim, you can also claim for loss of maternity pay.

  • Anonymous says:

    i have a 4 hour contract but for the last 8 months have been working over 50 hours. This week, without notice, I had my hours reduced to 28. is this legal?

    Editor: Can you supply further information via our Advice & Support/Q & A page box, eg, on reasons given for the changes and on why you have a four-hour contract, but have been working over 50 hours – was this a short-term situation because of business needs? Does your contract allow for a variation in hours due to business needs?

  • Anonymous says:

    I am on Aml and want to go back to work in September. Whilst I have been away a lady has been brought in to cover my work. I am contracted to work 20 hours in 2.5 days. I have asked to work 2 days on my return and am happy to work 18 hours (9hrs a day) I have been told that my job now warrants more hours and so they r taking my maternity cover on to do my job and are giving me a different role within the company which consists of jobs that are not that nice and also i have been given only 15 hours a week. She will only be doing 22.5 hours. Can I not have my original job back and her have the hours that are left and also she can have the not so nice job role.?

    Editor: Has your flexible work request been accepted? If not, they have to give a good business reason for turning it down – see If you do not believe the reason given by your employer is valid and shows that they have given your request due consideration, you can appeal their decision. Also, you do not have to accept the compromise situation and can stay with your original hours.

  • Anonymous says:


    I have been off on sickness for 5 months and when the doctor signed me fit for work i telephoned my employer it has taken them 2 weeks to phone me and ask me in for a return to work interview after me ringing them daily for 2 weeks, I have since found another job but if I am contracted to 20 hours per week surely they should have been paying me from the day I was fit to work as I am contracted> I feel like I have had no choice to hand my notice in as they were being unreasonable not having me in for a return to work interview straight away.

    Editor: Have you been on SSP or on a company sick scheme. If the latter, you would need to check the company policy.

  • Anonymous says:

    We have no contracts at work. I usually work 35 hours a week but recently had time off for sickness, I have a doctors note. Upon my return my hours have been reduced to 16 which I've been told is still full time.
    Is it legally ok for my employer to reduce my hours, he says to fit the needs of his business ??

    Editor: You say you have no contract, but what hours were you employed on? Even a verbal agreement can be legally binding and hours cannot be reduced without proper consultation.

  • Anonymous says:

    Ok, so I'm working two part time jobs and one of my jobs had me working atleast 16-20 a week all of a sudden without warning my hours went down to 4-6 hours a week. Can I file for unemployment being that its considered working full time if you work two part time jobs? Can I get benefits to get the help? Also my manager is very petty. Can I complain on her if she talks about me behind my back to other associates and I feel like she cut my hours due to her disliking me personally and trying to make me quit?

    Editor: You will need to provide more information. What reason was given for cutting your hours? Were you consulted about the change to your hours and did you agree this? Are both your jobs for the same employer or are you just talking about hours being reduced in one job? For benefits advice go to

  • Anonymous says:

    Ive just returned to work in a very small business from maternity leave and I was told at a staff meeting that all our hours are being reduced which takes my hours under the working tax credit minimum …..the reduction of hours is due to the business not doing very well …I don't have a written contract but a verbal one. I didn't make any objections to the cuts at the meeting, but now I think it's unfair as I will lose money . What can I do …

    Editor: You should be consulted on any changes to your terms and conditions and it appears your employer has done this – see Have you agreed to the changes as a result of this meeting? You need to clarify what the position is.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, i have worked for a company for 4 years, working a lot of hours. Last year, we were given a contract to sign. In it, it states that my contracted hours are 39. But there was no work for a week, and I was informed (by a text message) that I had to take a week off. My employer says that he does not have to pay me anything for this week, but I am contracted to 39 hours. Where do I stand? Thanks.

    Editor: Our HR expert Tara Daynes says: If you are an employee rather than a hired worker/contractor, then one of the implied terms of the contract is mutuality of obligation – i.e. they are obliged to provide work & you are obliged to do the work provided! So if there is nothing in your contract about enforced shutdowns, or unless you are on a zero hours contract, then they can't do this. It is sometimes lawful for an employer to enforce certain holiday dates, so if you have been asked to take this time out of your holiday entitlement it may be lawful (although the employer would need to give your notice of at least twice the number of days' holiday). But they can't just make you take unpaid leave if you are contracted to 39 hours a week – they still need to pay you even if there is no work available.

  • Anonymous says:

    My employer has taken on someone new and is giving him a lot of my work. He now says that he wants to reduce my hours. My contract is for 30hours a week. Can anyone let me know how I stand.

    Editor: On what basis is he reducing your hours, given that the work is there to do? He needs to give you a good business reason for doing so and he must consult you and get your agreement on any changes to your terms and conditions. If, for instance, he is reducing your hours because of pregnancy or maternity leave, that would constitute discrimination. Can you supply more information?

  • Anonymous says:

    I work part time in fast food as a cashier, and about a month ago a cashier took a month-long vacation and my hours increased to 35+ hours per week. Now that the person is coming back my hours have been reduced to under 20. Before the person left I was working 25 to 30 hours. I had recently looked at the schedule and was upset to see I had (may have more- unknown at this point) 4 days off in a row. Understandably I get that my hours would be cut but not this much.
    What can I do?

    Editor: Have you queried why your hours have been reduced from your original number? Are your hours set down in your contract? Was the agreement that you temporarily increase your hours to cover and then return to your normal hours? Your employer cannot change your hours without due consultation and agreement on your part -

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello, I've recently hurt my back at work with lifting. I have informed my boss from the start, but she has always been off and funny with me having time off work. When I came back they wanted to give me a disciplinary for the time I've had off even though I'd had sick notes, hospital appointments and so on. She recently left my paperwork on the desk for other staff to see. My boss has only ever told me once about my attendance. Can she give me a disciplinary for that? I also asked to cut my hours down a little from full time. I had a letter to prove this from my doctor and she has now reduced my hours to just one hour per day. I do not see this as fair.

    Editor: Your boss can certainly not reduce your hours to one hour a day without your agreement. What reduction did you propose to her? If your absence was legitimate and backed by notes from your doctor you should not be subjected to a disciplinary hearing, unless there are other reasons. Your manager should not take disciplinary action in any event without meeting with you first to discuss the issue so you would then know the reasons for it. You can take someone with you to a disciplinary, which would be a good idea as you would then have independent evidence to back you up should you need it. You should also take contemporaneous notes of all exchanges with your manager in case you need to take out a grievance subsequently. See and for what you can do subsequently if you fear the disciplinary action was unfair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I started a new job in July – it was meant to be for only 3 and a half hours a week, but they had me working more so I asked if I could have 16 hours a week to save me having to claim job seekers and claim working tax credit instead which they agreed to verbally. However, they had me doing more than 16 with the run-up to Christmas. So as not to get into any trouble I changed all my benefits, but now they have cut my hours down to between 9 and 12 a week and when I ask about doing the 16 I just get told that it will be sorted after Christmas, but now they have started to cancel my shifts the day before I'm due to do them and when I say that it is affecting me financally they just fob me off with 'I will see what I can do'. I was supposed to get a contract after being there for 3 months, but I'm still waiting so don't know where I stand plus they have taken on a new member of staff who is getting more hours than me which I feel is unfair. Is there anything I can do? I don't really want to go back on job seekers, but feel that I won't have a choice because I have 3 children to support.

    Editor: You should be on a contract when you start work, even if only a temporary one and even if it is not written down. Unless it is a zero hours contract [is this the case?], any subsequent changes to hours have to be agreed by you and verbal contracts are, in many cases, legally enforceable and binding on the parties who make the agreement. However, proving the terms of a verbal contract can be difficult and can result in a "he said, she said" disagreement. Although you have clearly been working more hours than in the original agreement, your employer could argue, for instance, that this was a temporary agreement. Your employer must give you reasonable notice of any changes to your working hours, such as cancelling your shifts. They may request last minute changes (such as ringing you that morning to say that they do not require you to work) and you can choose to agree to this change. However if you are not given reasonable notice of your shift being cancelled/shortened, you can politely refuse this reduction in your hours. There is no law simply defining reasonable. However your contract may state this. In most cases, a minimum of 12 hours notice would be expected as reasonable notice to cancel a shift. 


  • Anonymous says:

    I am a cleaner and i clean 5 different schemes, but I have been signed off work for the last 6 weeks as I have arthritis. While I was off work my manager and line manager came to my house to discuss about my time off ill. Whilst they were at my house my operations manager slipped into the conversation that they have cut my work hours by 5 hours per week due to the fact that one of my schemes is going to be changed to a caretaker service. I would like to add at this particular scheme the new service the residents receive will be the same as what I did. I said ok as it didn't really sink in at the time and they caught me off guard as I wasn't expecting them to tell me my hours have been cut whilst I'm off work. They sent me an amendment to my contract for me to sign. Which I have not signed as it says that my pay will be cut and also my holiday entitlement. Can they cut my hours whilst I'm signed off work and change my pay and holiday entitlement? I have a feeling that they are doing this because I've had a lot of time of this year because of my disability.

    Editor: They cannot change your terms and conditions without your agreement – see


  • Anonymous says:

    I've currently been working 16 hrs a week. Due to childcare issues on a Sunday my employer has taken me off Sundays which now leaves my hours at 13 hrs a week. What should I do as now I'm not eligible for working tax credits?

    Editor: Can  you send further information on the kind of job you do via our Advice & Support/Q & A page box. Is there any room for an alternative shift which you can fit around childcare? Could you supplement the hours/income with a second job? Does your employer offer childcare vouchers which could help with childcare costs?

  • Anonymous says:

    my contract is 15 hours per week….but for over a year now I have been doing over 30 hours per week…does this mean my contract automatically changes to 30 hours per week? And also my house has been cut now….is there anything I can do?

    Editor: Can you provide more details to our Advice & Support/Q & A page box so our experts can answer. Do you mean housing benefit, for instance? Did you get consulted on the increas in your hours? What sector do you work in?

  • Anonymous says:

    I work part time due to two children and work say I must cover other staff’s full time hours when they are on holiday. What are my rights?

    Editor: Could you provide a little more information about the kind of hours you do and whether this stipulation is written in your contract or there is a clause about flexible hours? If you could reply via the Advice & Support/Q & A page box our experts will have your email and be able to ask any possible follow-up questions.

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