Variation of working hours: Ask the expert

I’ve been employed as a nursery nurse for 14 years and have two small children aged five and two. Currently I work 16 hours a week (Thurs & Fri). My employer has asked me to work five days a week to which I said yes but only nine-two pm (this is to fit in with taking my older child to school and picking him up). I was waiting for this to be finalised and have just been advised that they now can’t offer me these hours and have said they can only offer me eight-two or three-six – obviously I can’t commit to these hours due to taking/collecting my son from school so have told them no. I am concerned that they are making it awkward for me and are trying to push me to leave. Can they do this? If they advise me that they can’t offer me anything else other than the above and ask me to leave – do they by law have to offer me redundancy?

Thank you for posting your enquiry on workingmums.co.uk. I am an employment law solicitor and I would be happy to provide you with some outline advice to your problem. From what I understand, your existing terms and conditions state that you are to work for your employer for 16 hours per week on Thursdays and Fridays of each week. Your employer has asked you to change your hours up to 20 hours per week working five days per week.

However, the hours they have proposed do not fit around your childcare responsibilities. Unless you have already given your consent to a variation of your contractual hours of employment, your employer cannot make you work the hours which they are suggesting.  Your employer must first obtain your mutual consent before they can lawfully change your hours from working the two days per week as per the existing arrangement to the new proposed arrangement. The only way your employer could make such changes is by way of consultation but they would have to show that such consultation was necessary in order to vary terms and conditions due to economic, business reasons, all of which must be objective and justifiable.

It is important that you communicate your refusal to agree to their proposed variation of your working hours and I would suggest that this be done in writing so that there can be no misunderstanding further down the line. In relation to your feeling of being pushed out, you would need to be more specific as to the acts which your employer is committing which is causing you to feel this way.

If they are committing acts which may be regarded as fundamental breaches of contract, you may have a case for constructive unfair dismissal. However, this will require further assessment upon receipt of the full facts of your case. Please do not hesitate to get in touch through our website www.babylaw.co.uk if we can be of any further assistance to you.

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.





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