Can we be threatened with redundancy for refusing to change working hours?

Me and a friend each work 3 days a week, but neither of us on a Friday. We do the same job but for different parts of the business but help each other out in holiday periods etc. About 3 months ago we were called in and asked if one of us would swap our days so that we worked a Friday so that every day was covered (and one day overlapped). We both went back and said that it was inconvenient to swap around children’s clubs/childcare to work a Friday. Today we were called in and put at risk of redundancy and told that following a resource meeting it had been decided that they wanted 1 full-time person to cover both of our part-time jobs but that we are welcome to apply for the full-time position.Can they do this? We said that we didn’t realise if we refused to do Friday we would lose our jobs and said we would change our hours. We have to put it in writing by Wednesday and they will consider it. What are our rights?

I feel that at the initial meeting where working an additional day was discussed the business should have been more clear about the implications of you not working a Friday.

Part-time workers have the right to be treated no less favourably than comparable full-timers so you might want to ask any of the full-time employees are at risk of redundancy.

The business will need to objectively justify the reason why they are treating part-time staff differently (if no full time employees are at risk)  and show the reason can meet a genuine business need.

If they feel they are being treated less favourably they should first discuss the issue with their line manager. They can ask for a written statement from the employer explaining the reason for the less favourable treatment.
Businesses should always consult with employees before making any redundancies, giving them information on why the redundancies are necessary and if there are any alternatives to making people redundant. An alternative in this case would be for them to ensure every day is covered.
The business should consider the proposal to cover the additional day as this would be an alternative to redundancy.

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