Is a verbal agreement sound? Ask the expert

I am currently on a 0 hour contract and my employer asked me to work day shifts so I have Monday-Friday school hours due to childcare. Now, however, they have put me on rota for one in four Sundays, but my verbal agreement was that I didn’t have to work weekends. Can I get round this at all? It’s so unfair.

When it comes to employment contracts, the contract is the agreement that is in place – not the piece of paper it is written on! All terms & conditions should be confirmed in writing, but lack of written confirmation doesn’t negate the contract. It does, however, make it very difficult to prove an agreed arrangement in the event of a dispute. So if you had a verbal agreement not to work weekends, then this does form part of the terms & conditions of your employment contract – but you may have a tough time enforcing this with no proof!

You can argue that if you have been working a set pattern for some time, that this is now custom & practice for you, so to change your working pattern without consultation, agreement & notice would still be tantamount to a unilateral change to your terms & conditions. Or simply explain that due to childcare arrangements you’re unable to work weekends – maybe even use the flexible working legislation to request this. But I would strongly recommend that even if you are on a zero hours contract, any restrictions in working patterns should be clarified in writing to avoid this situation coming up again in the future!

Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    I have exactly the same problem but I'm employed full time and after verbal agreement that's been in place for 6 months now, my manager has denied me this as my childcare problem is not his concern. How are you supposed to find childcare at 5.30 am there are no nursery or even babysitter who are willing to work that early on Saturday morning.

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