Can my shifts be changed?

When I returned to work after maternity leave, I had a fixed working pattern where certain shifts were agreed with my line manager and I organised childcare to meet these days. The company have recently tried to change the terms and conditions and I have, along with other members of staff, not agreed to these. The company are now trying to change my shifts and also make me work night shifts. I have written to explain that I am struggling to meet these demands due to childcare issues. Can they do this to me?

A company can vary the contractual terms and conditions of employment provided they have good business grounds to do so.  The company will need to consult with you and listen to your concerns.  If, despite hearing your concerns, they still proceed with the changes, then you may potentially have a claim for constructive unfair dismissal if you resign; unfair dismissal if they dismiss you and seek to offer you the new terms;or a claim for indirect sex discrimination as the policy that they have in place, namely that you are required to work night shifts has an impact on more women with childcare responsibilities and therefore is discriminatory.

If they pursue this, then I suggest you raise a grievance in relation to their conduct and inform them that you are unable to meet these demands due to childcare issues and, if they force you to do so, it would amount to discrimination.

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