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Can I change days of work for employee?

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I have a small retail business that now employs one member of staff who has been on Furlough. She has worked for me for 24 years and was initially part-time including Saturdays. There has never been a contract of employment (I know there should have been but it was initially ... informal - as a lot of things were a quarter of a century ago).
 A decade ago I employed another lady part-time  (Tuesdays and Saturdays) and made first employee full time and this has become Monday to Friday unless 2nd lady away and then Monday to Saturday for the first lady.  (When my employee was on holiday the second lady would work for the six days). The second lady has now retired (at 69) and I am having a go at re-opening.

My employee has come back saying she would now like to work part-time as her husband has semi-retired, she has joint problems and does not feel as well as she was pre Furlough and that she will not consider Saturdays in future. There is not the profit to engage someone else and I can't be in the shop if I am out on the road servicing and delivering (which is my role).
Can I insist she shares the Saturdays or will the change to the most recently established pattern of Monday to Friday mean I trigger redundancy entitlement? Not sure if it is relevant but she is 58 and I am 72.

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  • LomastLomast Forumite
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    You cannot force her to work saturday. You would have to make her redundent if she will not agree to the change of working hours.   

  • alun4alun4 Forumite
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    Thank you. That is what I needed to know.
    She would actually like redundancy and I have had the business for sale for six months with the idea of any purchaser continuing and renting the premises from me as "my pension" but any (very limited during Covid) interest has wanted assurance that she would remain as a link and knowledge.
  • edited 2 July at 11:06AM
    brisbris Forumite
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    edited 2 July at 11:06AM
    Lomast said:
    You cannot force her to work saturday. You would have to make her redundent if she will not agree to the change of working hours.   
    Mis read it ignore.
  • edited 2 July at 11:16AM
    brisbris Forumite
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    edited 2 July at 11:16AM
    You don't have to allow her to work part time, she is contracted full time so redundancy doesn't need to be offered and would be very expensive for the business.

    The employee is trying to change her hours here not the employer, whilst she doesn't need to work a Saturday that doesn't mean it triggers redundancy.

    You could always find a Saturday employee, there are people looking for weekend jobs,

    You should get an opinion from an employment law specialist on this.

    There are business forums that can help try here https://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/forums/legal.57/
  • edited 2 July at 11:54AM
    LittleVoiceLittleVoice Forumite
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    edited 2 July at 11:54AM
    alun4 said:
    I have a small retail business that now employs one member of staff who has been on Furlough. She has worked for me for 24 years and was initially part-time including Saturdays. There has never been a contract of employment (I know there should have been but it was initially ... informal - as a lot of things were a quarter of a century ago).
     A decade ago I employed another lady part-time  (Tuesdays and Saturdays) and made first employee full time and this has become Monday to Friday unless 2nd lady away and then Monday to Saturday for the first lady.  (When my employee was on holiday the second lady would work for the six days). The second lady has now retired (at 69) and I am having a go at re-opening.

    My employee has come back saying she would now like to work part-time as her husband has semi-retired, she has joint problems and does not feel as well as she was pre Furlough and that she will not consider Saturdays in future. There is not the profit to engage someone else and I can't be in the shop if I am out on the road servicing and delivering (which is my role).
    Can I insist she shares the Saturdays or will the change to the most recently established pattern of Monday to Friday mean I trigger redundancy entitlement? Not sure if it is relevant but she is 58 and I am 72.
    So you would have had a redundancy of the 69-y-o if she had not retired?

    If the first employee is not prepared to work on a Saturday, get someone who will.  You were paying the person who has retired, so why not a replacement?

    If the first will not fulfil her contract by working 5 days a week, then tell her she can resign.  (She could give you just one week's notice but if you dismissed her she would be entitled to 12 weeks' notice.)  It is not a redundancy situation.  But you could explore the possibility of a job share for the Monday to Friday sessions.  For that, each could cover for the absence of the other. 

    Did two of them work on Tuesdays?
  • LomastLomast Forumite
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    Ok I was typing in a hurry last night I probably should if expanded on what I said it may not be a redundancy situation but that may be a cheaper option.
    As there is no contract and therefore no variation clause you cannot change the working hours without employee agreement, if she does not agree and is smart enough not to quit you will have to dismiss her and depending on her reasons she may have a good case for unfair dismissal i know of plenty of situations where employers have preferred redundancy than potentially facing an employment tribunal

  • LittleVoiceLittleVoice Forumite
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    Lomast said:
    Ok I was typing in a hurry last night I probably should if expanded on what I said it may not be a redundancy situation but that may be a cheaper option.
    As there is no contract and therefore no variation clause you cannot change the working hours without employee agreement, if she does not agree and is smart enough not to quit you will have to dismiss her and depending on her reasons she may have a good case for unfair dismissal i know of plenty of situations where employers have preferred redundancy than potentially facing an employment tribunal
    Unless the OP closes the business it is rather hard to see how trying to say a dismissal was on the grounds of redundancy wouldn't end up in an Employment Tribunal as an unfair dismissal.  The fact that the employee has been employed for 24 years (and thus has the maximum number of weeks redundancy pay) isn't going to make it a cheaper option than giving 12 weeks notice because the employee is unwilling to accept the business needs someone on full-time hours.  Alternatively, let them cut hours to part-time and then dismiss on the grounds of redundancy and it will be cheaper because of the part-time earnings (unless they were extremely well paid).
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