Q: Can employers change an employee’s job duties, schedule or work location without their consent or prior notification?
A. Yes, in some cases. Generally, unless an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement states otherwise, an employer may change an employee’s job duties, schedule or work location without the employee’s consent.
When an employee is on FMLA, PFL or Disability leave, the Act protects an employee’s job duties, schedules, and work location by prohibiting changes that include changing the essential functions of the job, reducing hours, transferring the employee to an alternative location or otherwise placing a hardship on the employee. Upon returning from FMLA, PFL or Disability leave, employees must be reinstated to their job or an equivalent one that is virtually identical to the employee’s former position in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions, including privileges, perquisites benefits, and status. The employee is ordinarily entitled to return to the same shift, or a similar or equivalent work schedule and location.
In addition, schedule and duty changes made in retaliation for employees exercising their employment rights, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim, taking FMLA, PFL or Disability leave, filing a wage or discrimination claim, whistleblowing, etc. would violate the employee protections within those laws.
Are you already an ESC client? If you have any questions related to changing an employee’s duties, schedule or other terms and conditions of employment, be sure to reach out to your HR business partner for guidance and assistance.