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can employer change schedule without notice?

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Abrupt scheduling changes at work may be irritating but they are legal. There is little you can do about it if your boss suddenly switches your shifts or asks you to adopt new hours.

American employment is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. That act has no scheduling provisions, except in connection with child labor. The FLSA does not provide a minimum notice period for changes and your employer can change your schedule without talking to you about it.

From the Department of Labor

According to the Department of Labor, "an employer may change an employee's work hours without giving prior notice or obtaining the employee's consent (unless otherwise subject to a prior agreement between the employer and employee or the employee's representative)."

Given the above, there is not too much you can do if your boss switches your shifts. You will have to make arrangements to show up at the new time or you may find yourself without the job.

Little Legal Recourse

Theoretically you should be able to talk to your employer and work out something that works for everyone. But realistically those Americans who are "employees" -- as opposed to contractors -- work at-will. That means that your employer can let you go for any reason or no reason or because you won't adjust to a new schedule.

What About Contract Workers?

Contract work is on the rise in the US. So much so that in July, the Department of Labor issued a 15-page statement providing guidance on correct worker classification. When it comes to scheduling, contingent workers, or contractors, are meant to be free agents who employ themselves.

Independent scheduling is supposed to be an essential element of contractor classification and it is one of the criteria that courts will look at to determine if a worker is a contractor or employee. Realistically, however, contractors often find themselves in the same bind as employees -- working when management desires -- without any of the legal protections available to an employee.

A Practical Approach

Whether you are an employee or contractor, you should show up for work when the boss wants or you can expect to face consequences. If you absolutely cannot adjust to the new conditions, try to talk to your manager about your situation.

If that fails or is a risk in and of itself, then consider trying to coordinate with a fellow worker. Maybe someone is willing to trade shifts.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that the law is on the employer's side in this context. As a worker, you will have to find a way to make the change work or find new work.

If you are having problems at work, however, do speak to an employment attorney. There may be bases for a claim that are unrelated to schedule changes, and talking to a lawyer will help you sort out your options.

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asked Mar 10 in Education and Reference by Cousin

1 Answer

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Can an Employer Change Your Schedule Without Telling You?
Predictability in the workplace has its advantages. Knowing your work schedule ahead of time lets you balance and organize your professional and personal lives. If your employer suddenly changes your schedule without notifying you, however, it can throw a wrench in your plans. Despite the inconvenience, your employer has the right to modify your schedule without informing you unless your contract or agreement states otherwise.
Basics
The Fair Labor Standards Act does not regulate matters relating to employee scheduling, except in child labor situations. Therefore, under federal law, your employer can change your schedule without telling you. In all states that adopt at-will employment laws, employers can usually change employees’ work schedule without notifying them. They also have the right to terminate your employment at any time for any reason. As of August 2013, Montana is the only state with laws that protect certain employees from being fired without good cause. Still, even in Montana, employers can change employees’ schedules without notice.
Exceptions
An exception applies if a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract says your employer must tell you about the change in your schedule. In addition, the state might have a “show up pay” or “reporting pay” law. In this case, your employer must pay you for the lost time if you arrived to work and your total hours were reduced and different from what was originally scheduled and known the day before. Also, if you take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, the act protects your job duties, work schedule and place of work. Your employer cannot change your hours or alter the conditions of your employment when you return.
Pay Change
Most states require that employers give employees advance notice of changes in their pay rates, salaries or the hours their salaries cover. Though the rules usually don't specify how much notice an employer should give, employers should try to give as much notice as possible. For example, suppose your employer changes your pay status from hourly to salary or salary to hourly. The state may approve of this practice, provided your employer tells you before you start the work.
Considerations
If your employer can change your work schedule without telling you, it can also discipline you for refusing to work according to the new schedule. It cannot, however, change your work hours as a way of retaliating against you because you exercised your employment rights, such as filing a discrimination or harassment complaint.
answered Mar 10 by Kalico

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