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can my employer change my shift pattern?

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Can an employer change an employee’s work schedule?  In my case, I was working 7:00am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday for the last 7 years and now my company has told me to work some evenings and some weekends.  Can I refuse?

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asked Mar 9 in Education and Reference by BeetleBALEY

2 Answers

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An employer is permitted to set hours of work and to make certain limited changes to your hours of work.  Work environments are not static and employers can require employees to work outside of their regular working hours.  However, if the employer makes a significant change to your work schedule without your agreement, such as requiring you to regularly work evenings and weekends, this may trigger a constructive dismissal.  You can refuse to accept the change in hours, in which case the employer may terminate your employment.  In these circumstances, you are entitled to demand a severance package.  Even if the employer does not formally terminate your employment, you can resign from your job and demand a severance package as though your employment had been terminated.    Ultimately, the employee bears the onus of establishing that s/he has been constructively dismissed from their job.  There is no specific formula in terms of what type of change in working hours triggers a constructive dismissal.   Each case is decided on its own facts and in particular, decisions are based on whether the employee has other obligations or circumstances that may make the change in work hours particularly onerous.
answered Mar 9 by RenaGlory21
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Can my employer force me to change my work hours?
I work for a company in Boston Ma is a full time permanent employee. Due to personal obligations I cannot work the shift they want me to. What are my rights?
answered Mar 9 by Kitty
I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

The harsh reality is employees and job applicants have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. In general, an employer can be unfair, obnoxious or bad at management. An employer has no obligation to warn an employee that he or she is not performing as the employer wants. And an employer can make decisions based on faulty or inaccurate information. It’s not a level playing field. An employer hires employees to provide work for its benefit, not for the benefit of the employees. Don't expect the employer to take care of its employees; it doesn’t have to and it rarely does.

There are some limitations on what an employer can do, mostly in the areas of public policy (such as discrimination law or whistle blowing), contract law, union-employer labor relations, and constitutional due process for government employees. Please see my guide to at-will employment which should help you understand employment rights: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states. After you take a look at the guide, you may be able to identify actions or behavior that fits one of the categories that allows for legal action. If so, an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney may be helpful.

Employment rights come from the state and federal legislatures. One of the best things working people can do to improve their employment rights is to vote for candidates who have a good record on pro-employee, anti-corporate legislation. Another way to protect employment rights is to form or affiliate with a union, or participate in the union already in place.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.

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