Can your employer change your contracted hours?

Whether or not your employer can change your contracted hours depends on the terms outlined in your employment contract, employment laws and regulations. In many cases, employers have the right to make reasonable changes to an employee's working hours, but there are often restrictions in place to protect employees.

Here are some key considerations and general principles that might apply:

Modern awards & enterprise agreements

Many employees in Australia are covered by Modern Awards or Enterprise Agreements, which set out minimum terms and conditions of employment, including working hours. Changes to contracted hours may need to comply with the provisions outlined in these agreements.

National Employment Standards (NES)

The NES, which is part of the Fair Work Act, sets out minimum employment conditions in Australia. While it doesn't specifically address changes to working hours, it emphasises the importance of fair and reasonable treatment of employees.

Contractual terms

Employment contracts in Australia may include specific terms regarding working hours. Employers generally cannot unilaterally change contractual terms without the agreement of the employee, unless the contract provides for such changes or there is a valid reason.

Consultation & notice

Employers are often required to consult with employees and provide reasonable notice before making significant changes to working hours. The Fair Work Act encourages open communication and consultation between employers and employees.

Unfair dismissal laws

Drastic changes to working hours without proper consultation may raise concerns of unfair dismissal. If an employee resigns due to significant, unilateral changes that negatively impact them, it could be considered a constructive dismissal.

Flexible work arrangements

In Australia, employees who have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer have the right to request flexible working arrangements, which may include changes to working hours. Employers are obligated to consider these requests in a reasonable manner.

It's essential for both employers and employees to be aware of their rights and obligations under Australian employment law. If there are concerns or disputes regarding changes to contracted hours, seeking advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman, a union representative, or legal counsel is recommended.

For more information regarding employment contracts, click the button below to read our article on Australian national employment standards.

Can your employer change your contracted hours?

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