Can your employer change your scheduled hours without notice?

UPDATED: Feb 26, 2011

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Can your employer change your scheduled hours without notice?

If a person is hired as an hourly supervisor (Monday through Friday 7 a. m. to 4 p.m.) can the company suddenly change your hours to whenever they want you there (employed for 16 years)? What about the associates who go to college after work or weekends? What about the family that has only one car? What about the associates who have a second job? Can an employer legally change your hours and you have to put your life on hold and be available to them 24/7?

Asked on February 26, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Yes, in fact an employer can do this.  While seemingly unfair, it is legal.  In most states employment relationships are what is known as "at-will"; MA among them.  What this means is that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit.  An employee in turn can work for an employer, or not, their choice. Exceptions to this would be if there is a stated company policy that is contrary to this, or there is a union/employment agreement that does not allow for such action, or this situation has arisen due to some type of discrimination (i.e., for reasons due to your race, religion, age, disability, sex, national origin).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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