I have had a verbal agreement with my manager that I did not have to contribute to the on call rota. This has been the case for the last two years Now my manager wants me to participate in the on call and says it states I’m required to do so in my contract. What are my rights?
I’m very sorry to hear about your situation. This matter does not sound straightforward as it is involves contractual interpretation and potentially arguments around implied terms to the contract by custom and practice and/or a variation to the contract by oral agreement. These arguments are difficult to prove. That said, it is helpful for you that the situation you have agreed (verbally and/or by custom and practice) has been continuing for quite a long time, which lends weight to your position. Consider whether or not you have any reasons relating to, for instance, childcare responsibilities that makes it difficult for you to comply with the current requirement. If so, you may also have protection from the Equality Act and a further reason for them to stick to the agreement you have. Perhaps that was the basis for the agreement in the first place.
It is usually best at first instance to try to resolve the matter informally with your manager by speaking with them further about it, or with HR if the company has HR, or another senior manager if your current manager is being difficult. If that does not work, you also have the right to raise a formal grievance. Even if the company does not have a grievance procedure, you can still raise a grievance and follow the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures – see link https://www.acas.org.uk/acas-code-of-practice-on-disciplinary-and-grievance-procedures. I hope that this is helpful and wishing you all the best with your situation.
*Natasha Forman is a Legal 500 ranked senior employment lawyer at Kingsley Napley LLP, an internationally recognised law firm based in central London.