Clocks going back – HR and pay implications

British Summer Time ends on 29th October when the clocks go back an hour. This may mean you get an extra hour in bed, but what are the implications for employers and employees?

For some workers, such as bar staff, security guards, health care workers and taxi drivers, their shift  will be an hour longer than usual.

So the key question is do employees have to work an extra hour and be paid for the additional time?  

Ultimately this will depend on what it says in the employee’s Contract of Employment, or be subject to the employer’s discretion.

Some employers may let workers leave one hour early. Others may schedule, if possible, the employee to work the shorter shift when the clocks go forward.

Others will look at the employee’s Contract of Employment. For example, if it says that the employee works X hours per shift or X hours per week, or that the employee works between X time and X time, the employee would have to work the extra hour.

In regards to pay, it will depend on how the employee is paid – an hourly rate or an annual salary. If they are paid hourly, you should pay them for that extra hour. If they are a salaried employee, it would be expected that you would not have to, unless their contract specifies they are due overtime.

Overtime and National Minimum Wage

Employees will only be required to work overtime if their Contract of Employment clearly specifies this. Employers are under no obligation to pay workers for overtime, but the employer must ensure that the employee’s average pay for all the hours they have worked does not dip below the relevant minimum wage.

Working time rules

Employers need to be respectful of maximum working time, break times and night working rules.

In accordance with the Working Time Regulations, employees cannot work more than an average of 48 hours per week. The average is worked out over a 17 week reference period. The employee can opt out of this limit by agreeing to this in writing.

Workers are entitled to a minimum uninterrupted rest break of 20 minutes during any working day that exceeds 6 hours. They are also entitled to a daily rest period of 11 hours’ uninterrupted rest in a 24 hour period.

Night workers’ normal hours of work should not be more than an average of 8 hours in each 24 hour period over a 17-week reference period. However, if the worker’s job involves special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain, this 8 hour limit cannot be exceeded.

Remember that special working time rules apply for younger workers (someone over the compulsory school age, but still under the age of 18).

To explore this matter further, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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