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Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Dear Sirs Morrison supermarket have told me that I must volunteer

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Dear Sirs
Morrison supermarket have told me that I must volunteer to work on a Saturdays on a roster basis or they will change my contract. I have been working part time for them (not Saturdays) for 5 years. Section 6. Of the contract states ‘…the company retains the right to vary the arrangement of these days/hours according to the needs of the business. Part time staff may be requested to increase their hours to cover for sickness absence, holidays, stock tacking, or during peak trading periods.’ I have been told the Saturday working will continue indefinitely.
Surely the change of working hours is only for covering work colleges on a temporary basis (I have no problem with this)?

Jomo1972 :

Hi Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this. So are they asking you to work every Saturday from now on, rather than the odd Saturday?

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX my colleague has asked me to assist with your query as it is more my area of law. You are correct that a clause like the one you mentioned does not give the employer the free right to change your contract as they wish and make permanent changes to your working schedule. The actual wording of the clause suggests that its intention was to cover for times when others may not be available and this is just to be used as an emergency cover clause.

What your employer is trying to do is therefore amend your contractual terms and conditions. There are several ways in which an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. These are:

1. By receiving the employee’s express consent.
2. By forcefully introducing the changes (called 'unilateral change of contract').
3. By giving the employee notice to terminate their current contract and then offer them immediate re-engagement under a new contract that contains the changes.

If the employee agrees to the changes then that would usually put an end to the matter.

If the changes are introduced forcefully then the following options are open to the employee:

1. Start working on the new terms but making it clear in writing that they are working ‘under protest’. This means that the employee does not agree with the changes but is only working them because they feel they are forced to. In the meantime they should try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance.

2. If the changes are serious enough (e.g. a change to pay, duties, place of work, etc.) the employee may wish to consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. The resignation must be done without undue delay so as not to give the impression that the changes had been accepted. The claim must be submitted in an employment tribunal within 3 months of resigning and is subject to the employee having at least 2 years' continuous service.

3. Finally, if the employment is terminated and the employer offers re-engagement on the new terms that could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, the employer can justify the dismissal and the changes if they had a sound business reason for dismissing an employee who refuses to accept the variation in terms. This could be pressing business needs requiring drastic changes for the company to survive. If no such reason exists, the employee can make a claim for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The same time limit of 3 months to claim and the requirement to have 2 years' continuous would apply.

It is also worth mentioning that sometimes employment contracts may try to give the employer a general right to make changes to the employee’s contract. The employer could try and say the clause in your contract is one of these. As such clauses give the employer carte blanche to change any term, so as to evade the general rule that changes must be mutually agreed, courts will rarely enforce such clauses. Nothing but the clearest language will be sufficient to create such a right. Any attempt to rely on such clauses will still be subject to the requirement of the employer to act reasonably.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you are unhappy for some reason with the advice - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you very much
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

is this the same for part time workers?

is this saying full time they can change the hours but not full time?


the change of hours can be permeate or just to cover illness etc?


6.Hours/days of work: your hours of work are 23 hours per week, Monday 10.00 - 16.00, Tuesday 10.00 - 1600, Thursday 10.00 - 16.00, Friday 10.00 - 16.0. the company retains the right to vary the arrangement of these days/hours according to the needs of the business. Part-time colleagues may be requested to increase their hours to cover for absence, holidays, stock taking, or during peak trading times.

The same rights apply to both part time and full time workers. You cannot be treated less favourably than full time workers because you work part time.

So the clause is there to deal with the odd situation where cover may be required for temporary business reasons, sickness, holiday, etc. It does not allow the employer to permanently amend your terms to force you to work Saturdays on a permanent basis.

As your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer - it only takes a second to do. I can then continue providing further advice and answer follow up questions if needed. Thank you.
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 47610
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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