I've been at my workplace for 3 years. For about a year I've had set nights where I work Monday and Tuesday nights every week. I don't, and have never, worked Friday nights because I have a second job where I work Saturdays during the day.

Pretty much everyone I work with are related to one another and it's the Deputy manager's birthday next week. Because of this, he's put 4 of his family members on leave, which means none of them can work the Friday night so I've been put on to do it.

Can they do this? Because it will now mean I'll have to do a 12 hour night shift and then go straight to my day job and work 8 hours. I've been at my Saturday job for 8 years, and I've already tried asking for the Saturday off and they've said no. Surely it isn't legal for me to work straight after a night shift? Also I've had the family members/staff texting me out of work hours which shouldn't be allowed because they would have had to go into the contacts file to get my number.

Anyway, if someone can just clear this up for me and maybe give advice on what I can do? Wish I knew what my rights were.

  • 3
    Depends most likely on the country you are in.
    – FooTheBar
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 9:54
  • I live within the UK
    – Holz
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 9:57
  • 4
    Are the hours/days you work stipulated in your contract at all? Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 10:01
  • 3
    Do the two companies know that you actually work two jobs?
    – virolino
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 10:10
  • Some industries there are regulations on how long you can work and how much time between.... your's doesn't seem to be pilot or truck driver though
    – Kilisi
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 10:11

4 Answers 4


I've done a bit of reading about UK employment law, and I have some good news.

From https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/1833/regulation/6/made

(1) A night worker’s normal hours of work in any reference period which is applicable in his case shall not exceed an average of eight hours for each 24 hours.

(2) An employer shall take all reasonable steps, in keeping with the need to protect the health and safety or workers, to ensure that the limit specified in paragraph (1) is complied with in the case of each night worker employed by him.

The question is, what is considered "all reasonable steps".

If you have a rostered job on Saturday that goes for 8 hours, and your other employer wants to roster you on so that within that 24 hour period you would be working for more than 8 hours, then it would be very easily argued they are not taking reasonable steps. It would be very different if you were trying to hide your other employment from them. But from what I can gather, you are not.

Point 2 is deliberately soft. If an employer ONLY had to be concerned about employment at the same organisation, the language would be a lot more direct. But it is soft in recognition that it may not be possible for the employer to know, for instance, if there is a second job.

I tried to find supporting interpretations on the internet. Regarding the maximum working hours per week (48 hours), I found quotes from a few different employment experts:


The Regulations state that an employer must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the 48-hour limit is adhered to. Organisations that actively ignore other work undertaken by its staff will not meet this obligation, but this wouldn’t necessarily apply when the worker deliberately misleads the employer about what else they do.


Where there are weeks that employees must work in excess of 48 hours, employers must also be vigilant in making sure that the requisite rest periods are observed.


There is no issue with an employee working a second job, although employers must take all reasonable care in order to adhere to the above obligations.

Ultimately, you should provide both employers with documentation around when you work all shifts.

Now that your Mon/Tue employer is aware of your Saturday shift, they must take reasonable steps to ensure there is no breach of the act. Note that telling you to not work the other shift would probably not be considered a reasonable step.

  • 1
    There are also some rules that say if an employee carries out their job under conditions X for time period Y then this effectively becomes the terms of employment. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 19:53

Your company can do a lot of things legally you don’t like. But this isn’t your company doing it, it’s your deputy manager.

So step one is that you tell your deputy manager you are not coming. You never worked on that day, and you are not starting it. If there’s a problem it’s because the deputy manager gave four people the day off, for his own selfish reasons.

You might consider working on a Friday if there is an emergency. The deputy manager giving four relatives the day off is not an emergency. The manager firing the deputy manager and his relatives, that might be an emergency:-) The next step would be telling the same story one level higher up.

Why you are never working on Fridays is your business.

  • I would have upvoted except for that final line, because there's legal ramifications that does make it their business, as explained in @GregoryCurrie's answer.
    – nick012000
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 8:20

As far as I know you don't have any legal rights in this situation.

But you should be telling the deputy manager you already have plans for Saturday that you cannot reschedule, if that fails ask the manager if you must. Family dominated businesses it is usually best to give the family a bit of leeway if at all possible.

Often in a two job situation you have a primary employer whose needs supercede the secondary one if necessary. You may want to choose which you are willing to miss out on.

Personally I'd try and not do the Friday night and if that wasn't possible I'd just bite the bullet and work straight through without making a big drama over it.

  • As Kilisi said, unless you're doing a job where safety is a concern or it's a physical job, working 20 hours in a row is doable. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 10:30
  • It can't be that an employer in the UK could legally change hours however they want. If this was always legal, employer would use it to have unwanted employees leave and get around employment laws. Answer would be better with parameters within which hours can be moved around. But yeah, a one-off when service must be maintained, probably ok in this case.
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 11:50
  • 4
    "working 20 hours in a row is doable" The second employer definitely won't be happy to have an unrested and tired employee. This is also a case in the EU (so there are more worker rights as in the US), e.g. for minimal rest periods. I couldn't quickly find something, but I guess it is not legal to work for two employees without the rest periods. (Which for example could be important for insurance)
    – FooTheBar
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 12:03
  • 4
    It's not about threatening an employer, it's about realizing that it's maybe simply not allowed to work both shifts so he has to cancel one of them.
    – FooTheBar
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 13:01
  • 1
    I have worked well over 20 hours at a stretch. It is not fun, and when I got back to the hotel I hung the do-not-disturb sign and tumbled into bed, but it can be done. You just have to concentrate on doing the next thing. Avoid driving - use public transit, taxis, uber etc. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 22:22

Opinion: I think it is unlikely that they can compel you to work unusual hours at such short notice.

Obviously they can't physically force you and if they try to fire you then I don't think a court would find they have done so with reasonable cause.

I am not a lawyer. If you want to go down this route then you should get some kind of legal advice, ideally before you try to tell your employer how the law works. This could be a solicitor or you could go to the Citizens Advice Bureaux (look it up, it is free and there is one near you).

However: if at all possible you want to nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand.

The more adversarial the situation becomes the more likely it is that the family will either bully you or fire you. While both of these things would be illegal, it won't be fun or rewarding for you to try to prove this. Hence, you need to try to find a way of resolving the situation where no one escalates anything and everyone can save face.

I think you've got three non-exclusive options:

  1. Tell your supervisor you can't work on Friday. Do this ASAP, stick to your story, and hope that they find a solution that doesn't involve turning the screws on you.
  2. Appeal to authority, head straight to the top dog and explain the situation. Say that you believe it is a misunderstanding but are worried that the situation might get out of hand and is likely to be easier to sort out sooner rather than later.
  3. Find a way to make it work. This really is a last resort but you should consider this before burning any bridges.

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