Can my manager change agreed shifts with no warning?

I’ve returned to work this week after being on maternity leave. Before returning to work, I had a meeting with my manager and we agreed a new salary based on a working week of 20 hours and the shifts that I would work going forward. Nothing was put in writing. I’ve just had my second week’s rota and the manager has already deviated from the set shifts and is also pushing me to work shifts that I can’t get childcare to cover. She’s threatening to let me go if I can’t sort them out, but she agreed my hours and shifts in the first place.

Employee Rights


I understand that the change in your arrangements wasn’t confirmed in writing formally and being able to evidence what was agreed could be difficult. There might still be some supporting evidence (such as the change in pay and the rota for the first week), but it is important to begin creating a better paper trail from this point.

Sending your manager an email/text setting out what was agreed and, importantly, the reason why it was agreed (i.e. childcare) and asking that the agreement be honoured would be a good starting point. It doesn’t have to be confrontational in the first instance, merely a reminder and a request to stick to the arrangement because of the difficulty it is causing you. If this doesn’t work, and there is no good explanation why the agreement isn’t being honoured, making it a complaint by way of a formal grievance would probably be your next step.

If your employer has a staff handbook or a grievance policy, you should take a look at that to see what steps to take to commence the grievance process. If there is no policy to look at, you should submit details of your complaint in writing to somebody more senior than your line manager (it can be by email), making it clear that you wish to raise a formal grievance about the actions of your line manager. You should be invited to a meeting to discuss the situation and you should be given the opportunity to be accompanied at that meeting by a colleague (or trade union rep). If the initial grievance doesn’t resolve matters satisfactorily, you should appeal to someone at a higher level of seniority again where possible and ensure that you exhaust your internal options.

If the issue isn’t resolved through the grievance process, you may have options to pursue a remedy via the employment tribunals, submitting an early conciliation notice to ACAS in the first instance and ensuring not to leave it too long (you only have three months from the act of discrimination to make that submission to ACAS). I would suggest that, if you can, you take bespoke legal advice as soon as it becomes clear that the situation isn’t going to be resolved internally.

I hope that assists you at this stage.

*Marie Horner is an experienced senior employment law specialist at ALT Legal in Wetherby. She is also CIPD qualified in HR management.

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