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Jenny McKenzie
Jenny McKenzie,
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6259
Experience:  10 Years of experience in Employment Law and HR
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Hi I am a fire-fighter We work 2 days 10hrs and 2 nights

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I am a fire-fighter
We work 2 days 10hrs and 2 nights 14hrs then 3 days off

On July 1st I was told that I was being moved shift patterns which in effect means I start my shifts 2 days earlier . I have been working my present pattern for 16yrs and it is deeply entrenched in our family life. My wife works shifts for the NHS as a Manager and works her shifts around mine (in order to provide sufficient childcare) In turn the shifts of her staff are programmed around her. This way everyone knows their pattern for many months in advance and have planned their family lives accordingly. The change would mean a significant increase in childcare costs, especially as it would involve childcare overnight and a even greater disruption to many lives. I have given my line manager a 5 page report on how this would affect my family life, finances, state of mind etc. However he refuses to alter his stance. This is also happening to 9 others on the station. My line managers reasoning is than he "Wants to re-invigorate and Re-vitalise the station staff" This we all feel will have the opposite effect. What are your thoughts ?
Hello and welcome to Just Answer, can you tell me if your original shift pattern was contractual, i.e. if it is specifically mentioned in your contract ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jenny


A 2D 2N rota is written into our contracts , however it does stipulate "Dependant on the exigencies of the service" basically we can be put wherever, whenever staff are needed. This goes beyond that as we have a full compliment of staff , with very equals skills and he has stated that he's more than happy with the performance of "ALL OF HIS STAFF"

Ok so is the point that you will not be aware of your shift pattern in advance going forward?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We all know what patterns we will be moving to, however he wants to have these moves in place by July 15th. Which is nowhere near adequate time to try and re-jig childcare, commitments already paid for etc. He has said he will honour holidays already booked but in my case my wife sometimes works away, this new pattern would put me on night shifts when she's away overnight. All my wife's conferences where booked around me being on my present shift.

Hi how long have you worked there for and has he ever changed your shift patterns before?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

16yrs on my current pattern . This number of people has never been done before ,not even in cases of misconduct. As I said earlier he says he's more than happy with the way the station is operating. This isn't happening on every fire station , just mine !

Hi I would suggest you now raise a formal grievance to state that your current shift pattern is contractual as you have worked it for 16 years and through custom and practice you have the right to rely on it. This means that if you are forced to change your shift pattern on July 15 it will amount to a unilateral variation of your terms and conditions of employment and is unlawful. You should state that you are not prepared to work the new shifts unless notice is properly given and if it is enforced you may decide to decline to work and claim unfair dismissal as the contract will be treated as terminated by them.

You should note that the employer can give notice of a change of terms but given your length of service that notice will be 12 weeks.

Hopefully that will concentrate the mind of your manager so that adequate notice can be given. It is a slight risk to go down the unfair dismissal route as the tribunal will be the ultimate judge as to whether it amounts to a change in terms and conditions.

If you have any follow on questions please ask. If i Have answered your question I would be grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating. Thank you and all the best.
Jenny McKenzie,
Satisfied Customers: 6259
Experience: 10 Years of experience in Employment Law and HR
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