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Shift pattern change law

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If an employee requests a change of working pattern this will be a permanent contractual change unless you agree otherwise (for example, agreeing the change for a limited period of time). Changing the working pattern without the employee’s agreement will be a breach of contract.

In Gregory v Royal Mail Group Ltd [2017] the employee worked as a postman, was separated from his wife and had an access arrangement in place in relation to his child. He wanted to have weekends free to see his child. He made a flexible working request to work week days only, and this was agreed.

A restructuring then took place, and all employees were asked to complete a questionnaire to indicate their preferred working pattern. The employee was on leave at the time so his trade union representative completed it for him. Unfortunately, the trade union representative wrongly stated that the employee would be willing to work on Saturdays.

On returning from leave the employee found that he was now working 3 Saturdays a month. He submitted a flexible working request which was rejected, and his appeal against this decision was also rejected.

The employer sought to impose the Saturday working. Notably, the employer had preserved the flexible working arrangement previously in place before the restructure for other employees, but not the Claimant.

The employee therefore resigned, successfully claimed constructive dismissal and was awarded just over £22,000 in compensation.

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For employment law matters covering shift change patterns or other changes to working practices then please contact Sarah Tahamtani on sarah.tahamtani@clarionsolicitors.com

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