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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
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Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I work at The Warehouse - in April I was supplied with a roster

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I work at The Warehouse - in April I was supplied with a roster for shifts which extends to Sunday 26 May 2013. In May I was supplied with an updated roster which has 2 fewer shifts to Sunday 26 May 2013.

(a) Is a roster a contract; and
(b) Can an employer adjust/amend shift offers already made on a unilateral basis to the detriment of the employee?


christhelawyer : HiWelcome to JustAnswer. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear
christhelawyer : A roster is not normally a contract, especially when it is something which needs to be modified and changed to meet the operational needs of the employer. If the roster hangers regularly, then there is an obligation on the employer to try to combine the operational needs with the expectations, and needs of the workers. So you should be consulted about changes, but this would not be something binding, as it has to be flexible.
christhelawyer : In some circumstances, and possibly your case, if you have an expectation that you will work certain hours, and therefore get a certain pay, then they must consult before reducing your shifts and pay. If there is a pattern of changing rosters and shifts during the term of your employment, then it is unlikely you can do much. If your shifts have been steady and the pay more or less the same, then if this change reduces your pay, and is likely to do so in the longer term, then that could form a complaint you could raise by personal grievance proceedings.
<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:

Hi there again,

<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:

So just to confirm - a roster is neither a contract nor is it an agreement?

<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:

If that is the case then I would postulate that an employer has no grounds for disciplinary action if an employee then fails to report for a specific shift as no agreement exists between the two?

<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:

I thank you for your initial response which has clarified this position for me - it would however indicate that New Zealand Labour law could possibly be revisited as this would definitely be a one-way application which would seem to be very unfair to me in terms of expectations which are or have been created around commitment to work.

<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:

Lastly - if the reduction is being made to provide additonal shifts for other workers, would that be considered as "fair"?

<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:


<span class="JA_chatAuthorName"Customer:


christhelawyer : You have an employment contract which says you will work rosters as notified. A good employer will consult with employees to set the rosters, to ensure the parties reach agreement, but once this has been settled, then if you fail to turn up to the rostered time this would be a breach of the contract. If the rosters reduce your income then you can protest as this is a matter which enables you to raise a personal grievance. But rosters are also governed by the reasonable needs of the employer, and there needs to be a balance between this, and the needs of the workers.
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