Changing the Christmas rota

I work for a large petrol retailer. We were tupe’d over from one retailer to another in 2014 and last Christmas we had reduced hours at our store and it went smoothly with all staff doing shortened shifts. For this December our manager cleared our rota for the holiday season with the retailer weeks ago and his only change was to open on Christmas Day from 10am till 4pm instead of 10am till 2pm. This was agreed with the staff member. We have just had an email from our employer saying we are to open normal hours over Christmas and new year. Our normal hours are 5am till 10pm every day. This has never happened before. We don’t get paid any extra hourly rate of pay. My question is can he make us do this and so close to Christmas even though we all had our shifts agreed by our store manager weeks ago and so we have made plans for the holidays?

Any request by your employer to change your hours of work depends in part on whether your contract of employment allows such a change. The terms of your contract may be made up of both what is written in your contract and what has been agreed orally. You should check the terms of your contract carefully to see what it says about your hours and your employer’s ability to change them, including the number of hours that you have to work each week and the notice your employer should give you to change your agreed hours. Forcing you to work extra hours without a contractual right to do so is a breach of contract.

However, even if your employer has the right to change your hours under your contract, they should act reasonably when making that change. Given that Christmas is only days away now and your hours over Christmas have been agreed with your manager, it would seem unreasonable for your employer to force you and your colleagues to change your hours now. There should be a discussion with you to see if anyone is willing to agree to change their hours. If your employer insists that you change your hours, you may want to take specific legal advice and consider raising a formal grievance under your employer’s grievance policy.

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