Work rotas are used in employment where they operate on a shift basis or have flexible working arrangements. There are many benefits to using work rotas such as ensuring an organisation is adequately staffed at all times, guaranteeing employers are compliant with UK work rota laws, increasing productivity and giving employees advanced notice of their shifts.

How much notice does an employer have to give for a shift change in the UK though and what is the correct protocol for this?

Work Rota Laws in the UK

It is essential for employers and HR staff to be familiar with work rota laws in the UK. These regulations govern a range of factors such as regulating how long employees can work, how many breaks they’re entitled to, how much they should be paid, etc.

An example of UK work rota law is the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which states that employers are required by law to:

  • Keep full records of hours worked and make sure these are accurate.
  • Provide employees with a work rota with advance notice.

Is It Illegal To Have Less Than 11 Hours Between Shifts In The UK

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), or Working Time Directive, also provide guidelines on work rota laws stating that:

  • Employees should not exceed an average of 48 hours for each 7 days, including overtime.
  • Employees should be given 11 consecutive hours off between shifts.
  • One day off must be given every 7 days.

If employers are not compliant with work rota laws, employees may seek legal advice possibly leading to a tribunal hearing.

Can Employers Change Working Hours?

Yes, employers can change working hours, however a fair process must be followed which includes informing employees and gaining their consent. Staff members must be told about changes you intend to make and why this change is necessary. A contract cannot be changed without the employee’s consent.

Minimum Notice You Should Give Your Employees

As mentioned above, employers are to provide employees with a work rota with advance notice. Although “advance” is a legal term meaning no minimum or maximum amount of time, it is common practice to give your employees at least a week’s notice for any changes to their shift schedule. If employers state a specific timeframe for how far in advance employees should be noticed in a contract, they are legally obliged to follow this.

In regard to changing working hours, if a change is permitted in the contract of employment, notice should be given as outlined there. However, if the contract does not state a specific timeframe, the notice should be reasonable and final confirmation of the change, including when it will take effect, should be outlined in a working hours letter to the employee.

How Much Notice Does an Employee Have to Give on a Zero Hour Contract UK?

A zero hour contract doesn’t state a minimum of regular hours per calendar week or month; there is no set schedule which can cause some confusion over employee rights. There is a difference between the employment status of “workers” and “employees”.

“Workers” have no statutory rights to a notice period, whereas “employees” have the right to be given the statutory minimum notice of termination. This means employees also have the right to make an unfair dismissal claim.

Although employers are under no legal obligation to provide workers with notice of termination, it’s still good practice to do so in order to maintain a positive working relationship.

If you’re an employee that feels like your rights have been breached when it comes to notice periods or shift changes, we have a range of services you can rely on. With our HR Support Services, we have the resources you need to correctly handle shift changes in the future. If you’re an employer that would like help to navigate work rota laws, contact us today.