Can they force me to go full time?

I was recruited on a part-time basis just over a year ago. The opportunities in the team I’m responsible for have grown / my team are winning business and the company now either want me to go full-time, or are saying I need to resign..or they will make me redundant as the job is now full-time. They feel the COO should never have agreed to employee for this position part-time. The 3 days per week is proving a challenge (I’m always doing 4 days!). They are not open to exploring job share opportunities at all & dismiss it. I’d appreciate advice on where I stand on this and what approach I should take.

Woman working at home


I understand that you were recruited on a part-time basis just over a year ago. Your employer now wants to change your role to full-time or wants you to resign because your job is now full-time. Your employer states that your part-time role is redundant.

Unless your employer has a contractual right to do this (which is unlikely), your employer cannot change your role from a part-time to a full-time role without your agreement.

If your employer attempts to change your terms and conditions of employment without your consent, you have a number of options. You could work under the new terms and conditions but make it clear that you do not agree to the change.

You could then submit a claim for breach of contract. It is unlikely that you would be able to show any financial losses resulting from the breach of contract and this would mean that your only remedy for breach of contract would be a declaration that the variation was a breach of your contract of employment or an injunction stopping your employer from breaching your contract of employment.

Your other option would be to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal, but unfortunately you need two years’ continuous employment to submit this claim at an employment tribunal and therefore this avenue would not be available to you until you meet this requirement.

If your employer dismisses you for not agreeing to the change in your working hours, your remedy would be an unfair dismissal claim in the employment tribunal, but unfortunately, again, you need two years’ continuity of employment for this claim.

Your employer should, however, pay you your contractual notice entitlement and if it does not, you would have a wrongful dismissal claim. Your employer has also mentioned redundancy.

However, a need to increase working hours is not a redundancy situation, although it is possible that your employer mistakenly believes that it is. In any event, you are not legally entitled to a redundancy payment until you have two years’ continuity of employment.

It is generally acknowledged that a requirement to work full-time rather than part-time could be capable of amounting to indirect sex discrimination, as more women than men have family responsibilities that make full-time work more difficult. However, the requirement will not be discriminatory if it is objectively justified by your employer.

In your case, your employer may be able to justify a requirement for full-time, rather than part-time hours, on the basis that the business is growing and your team are winning business.

When considering changing your role from part-time to full-time role, your employer should be clear about the aim they are seeking to achieve, and consider whether there are any less discriminatory ways of achieving it.

It could, for example, consider job-share or splitting a full-time role into two part-time roles as potential ways of seeking to avoid indirect discrimination against you.

I would advise you as a first step to submit a grievance stating that you do not agree to your employer changing your hours and that you consider this is discriminatory on the grounds of sex.

Depending on how your employer handles your grievance, you should then consider submitting a sex discrimination claim. This must be submitted at the employment tribunal within three months of the discriminatory act, which in your case, would be i) the change to your terms and conditions of employment from part-time to full-time, if you remain an employee or ii) the date you are dismissed for not agreeing to go full-time.

Please contact Tracey Guest on 0161 975 3823 if you would like further advice in relation to this matter.

Comments [33]

  • Sarah says:

    Hi, I have been working for a company for 6 months part time, and they have told me they want to change the role to full time, and i get first refusal at the job – they have implied that that means i am loosing my current job if i can’t do the full time hrs (which is not really possible around my children) what are my options?

  • Lynn Y Mitchell says:

    I’m working a part job and have a full time job as well. Due to holidays and being short of staff the are making work the holiday which ok it’s fine but they increased my hours and I will have to work both jobs at the same time which is impossible to do both which is why I work part time. Can they make me work longer hours? Not sure what to do I can’t lose my full time job

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, What does your contract say about doing additional hours? If you are not contractually obliged to do additional hours you should be consulted on changes and your agreement obtained.

  • Steve says:

    I am not a working mum but I am in a similar situation, I’ve worked part time, three mornings a week for a company for four years and have been as flexible with my hours as possible over this time and rarely only worked the days I’m supposed to. Recently we have become busier and my hours have been creeping up, a few days ago I asked if as soon as possible I could get back to doing just the three days I had originally agreed to which didn’t go down well, just over a week later and I have been told they don’t want me any more and not to come in again as they are getting someone full time to do my job, I don’t even know if I’ve been dismissed or made redundant, I don’t know what to do or how I stand, any advice would be much appreciated, thank you.

  • Julia says:

    I work 22.5 hours a week after returning from maternity leave 15 months ago. I have been on furlough most of the last year. Now I have returned to work I have heard they have replaced my role with a full time position and moved me into a different role, on same part time hours, but within the same team. Can they do that and do that without discussion?

  • Mia says:

    I have been working part time for 12 years and have an excellent work record. There have been a number of issues with other admin staff in the Dept who haven’t performed their duties. As they have to do their work first and then send to me I have found on numerous occasions their work is full of errors. I have raised this with management but these staff are not tackled. This then has a detrimental effect on my job. I have a new manager now who wants to replace my role with a full time person, who will also take on training these admin staff. They want to move me as part time elsewhere in the company carrying out higher level duties I’m not comfortable with. They did not offer me father full time role or consider jobshare for the role. Can they do this? Can you advise please. Thank you

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, the advice in the article you commented on is valid for you. It would all come down to how your employer attempts to justify that the role is now full time and whether the reasons given are valid and how they might justify not offering it as a job share or as two part-time roles. You could register in writing that you are not happy with the move and that you do not believe it is justified and that they have not looked at alternative solutions. It is important to show that you have registered your concerns from early on in the process.

  • Louise says:


    I have worked for a company for 12 years and due to having kids went part time 10 years ago and have always finished at 2.30 so I can get home and pick kids up from school who are under 10. They are now saying I need to change my hours due to business needs from 9-3 or 11.30 to 5.30 there are two part timers on my team and basically they want us to job share, so one take one shift and the other, the other shift. They say it’s so it’s in line with customers we deal with. Neither of us was ever took on to job share and the other part timer was taken on knowing the hours I already worked. They also let us do these hours knowing our opening hours are 9-5.30 and always has been , we also have more people on our team now then we ever had and was certainly worse off -staff wise when my hours and times was agreed. My work performance isn’t affected and I keep up work wise with full timers. I asked what happens if I can do what they are asking and would it result in being dismissed, they replied no but if you choose not to do what we need you to do that is your choice, surely they are forcing me to agree?

    • Mandy Garner says:

      This is a change to your terms and conditions and your employer must consult and obtain your agreement to the change. Does your contract state anything about your hours being subject to business needs, etc? As stated in the article on which you have commented, your employer could dismiss you and seek to rehire you on the new terms. This could result in an unfair dismissal claim. Your success would depend on how well your employer could justify the changes on business grounds and how far they have gone to look at alternative ways of achieving their aims, which they could say the job share offer constitutes. For now, you could register that you don’t agree to the changes. If they have a good business case [eg that there is an increased demand in the hours specified, etc] that they can explain clearly to you, you may be able to suggest other options which would not be so disruptive to you and would address their needs.

  • Karl says:

    Hi Mandy, my wife is currently on maternity albeit due to return to work in 2 months time. She started working for the company 3 months before going on maternity leave and will have taken a full 12 months maternity leave (so short of 2 years service).
    Prior to going on maternity she had a part time hours contract. Now business has picked up and the company says it can no longer accommodate part time working. What are her rights please?
    Thank you

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Karl,
      After six months of maternity leave she has a right to return to original role and after additional maternity leave – 6-12 months of maternity leave – she has a right to return to her original role or a suitable alternative [same terms and conditions] if that job no longer exists eg it has been made redundant. It sounds as if the job still exists, but they just want to increase the hours. If they want to change a person’s terms and conditions they need to consult and get their agreement. While she falls short of two years’ service and would not be able to claim unfair dismissal, she could claim breach of contract or possibly maternity discrimination if she could prove that the reason they are seeking to impose full-time hours on her is due to her being on maternity leave. Have other part-time workers been forced to increase their hours?

  • Tony swanwick says:

    This is in behalf of my wife.

    Worked at the company for 24 years. 18 years full time and the last 6 part time. 5 hrs a day for 3 days a week.

    Been through a consultation period for this to be extended to 5hrs per day for 5 days to cover the increased work load.

    Options on the table from the company.

    1/ do the 5 days per week. This would mean earning less on a prorata per day due to tax, whereas currently under that taxable threshold. She does not really want to do 5 days in particular hard in the holiday period with child cover and makes 5hrs uneconomical

    2/ the terminology has been used as ‘restructed’ Position. Therefore no redundancy is on offer as this does not attract redundancy. An offer of a few £k has been made as goodwill.

    3/ decline and simply be dismissed.

    I can get my head around the ‘restructure’ element. Is this a loop hole term to avoid a redundancy payment? I see it differently, they require more hours to be worked and require a change to the hours as stated in the contract I.e 15 hours per week over 3 days. That role is now not a requirement and surely the role is being made redundant?

    Please could you advise your thoughts?

    • Mandy Garner says:

      I am seeking legal advice on this.

      • Andrea Mallett says:

        Hi just wondering what the outcome of this was as currently facing a similar situation myself. I have worked for company on a part time basis for past 7 years and they have told me the role now needs to be covered full time
        I have been told either I work full time or leave! I dont really want to work full time as I have a young family and childcare would be a huge issue and financially I would be worse off working full time. I only have a verbal contract as have never been given a formal contract or roles responsibilities.
        I was also only given a weekend to think about it, having now had more time to think about it due to having a week off I have decided it really isn’t the right time for me to go full time. Where do I stand? Any advise very welcomed.

  • Lesley Davies says:

    I am on a 18 hour contract but my manager puts me on a.lot of weekends i don’t think this is fair what are my rights

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Can you send more information on the type of contract you are on, how long you have been on this contract, what it specifies about shifts, if you have ever specified that you couldn’t work weekends, if this is because of childcare etc, to

  • Anon says:

    My partner is currently working part time. She has been working for the same company for about 16 years full time. Last year she managed to get her contract and role changed to part time. It seems they want her back to full time and her manger is constantly hassling her at home by email and text on her non-working days, plus there is a level of subtle bullying whilst she is at work. She has stated that she cannot go back full time (because this would cause her stress which is why she went part time in the first place) and they are reviewing the situation later in the year. Her manager has made it clear that he does not want her around anymore if she is part time. What are her options? Thanks

  • Upset Part time worker says:

    I have been with a company for ten years and work part time (20hrs) a week over four days; they have said that my role will be full time as from the new year; that have offered the terms such as salary and holiday but bottom line is I do not want to work full time! Yes the business has grown and developed but I have always been part time and even increased hours at one point through the duration of working.

    Can you please advise on the way forward and likely outcome as I don’t want to do this!

  • Sara Adams says:

    I have been given 6 weeks notice from my job. I have been working part time, 3 days a week for 6 years, for a firm of solicitors in London. They have asked me a few times if I would go full time and I have said no as I have 2 children and I don’t want to work full time. I did say I would do 4 days if that helped them and they said no. Then I got told they were giving me notice and had already got a full time secretary lined up. I asked them if I was being made redundant and they said no as they had offered me the job and I had turned it down. They also referred me to a case of Barnes v Gilmartin and said the work had not diminished. Could you tell me if what they are saying is right and what I should do next as obviously I am up against experienced people who know the law inside out.

  • Roger says:

    I got a part time contract but have been working full time hours for the last 2yrs is there a law saying they must offer me a full time contract because of the lenth of time I have been doing full time hours

  • Michaela Tanner says:

    I am part time doing 5.5 hrs a day with 16 years service. We have 1team leader and 4 working people 2 which are full time (male) and then 2 female part timers. They have said the part time vacancies are up for redundancy . They have offered us full time and if except we then on a point system be rated down to two full time workers only with one team leader. My colleague suggested job share which they offered 4.25 hrs only which she rejected and has took the money. I now have two options full time or redundancy . How do I stand

  • Ann Leeming says:

    My boss asked me if I would go part time and I accepted it, but now due to a dishwasher being broken at work they are trying to force me to work more hours until it gets fixed (I work in a restaurant in a hotel) but since I’ve worked part time I have sorted all out with my housing benefit and so I can’t do the extra hours due to it disturbing my claim that is all sorted, but my boss doesn’t seem to care about that. Are they allowed to treat me this way since it was them that asked me to go part time?

  • Anonymous says:

    I work for a large retail company who are restructuring management roles at present, i currently work 25 hours part time and my job is increasing to 36 hours full time, the options open to me are take the full time role or resign, The company has deemed this as a minor change to working conditions therefore I am under no consultation period, have not been given the opportunity to apply for part time vacancies and no offer of redundancy. Other managers who's jobs have been restructured have all this on offer. I work part time to support my family and 25 hours works around our situation, working full time would incur child care costs and less time at home, where do I stand??

    Editor: You should definitely be consulted on any change to your hours and this is a substantial change – see

  • Anonymous says:

    I read this article with interest as I work for a big financial institution which may change my role to include team leader responsibilities (by making the grade/role above me which currently has the team manager responsibilities redundant)and tell me i need to be full time to fulfil the new duties. I have a contract for 14 hours currently and as a single mum would struggle to work more than 21 hours, but the terms and conditions on my contract state 'the employer retains the right to alter my responsibilities and hours as required'- are they allowed to make so big a change to my role?

    Editor: Our HR expert Tara Daynes says: Just because an employer sticks a clause in a contract doesn´t mean they can get away with doing whatever they like/ It still needs to be fair & reasonable, & this sounds to me like it isn´t. It sounds like this is a general enquiry rather than something that is actually happening, so I would suggest you pre-empt the situation by flagging up with them that you have limitations & so would only be able to accept changes within certain parameters. You should make it clear to your employers that to make any unilateral changes that can´t be objectively justified could be tantamount to detrimental treatment & discrimination, so they should tread carefully before making any sweeping changes.

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