Time is money: the hidden cost of the clocks going back

James Potts - Legal Services Director

September 30 2019

For most of us, when the clocks go back at 2am on Sunday 27th October it means an extra hour in bed. But if you have staff working night shifts, you’ve got a lot more to think about than a lie in…

Can you make staff work an extra hour? Do they get longer breaks? And do you have to pay them more?

Here’s what you need to know.

Check the contract wording

The exact wording of your employee contracts tells you how to manage staff shifts when the clocks go back.

For example, let’s say Employee A’s contract says they work for a period of eight hours from 12am.

Because the clocks go back at 2am to make it 1am again, Employee A will have completed eight hours’ work and can finish their shift at 7am. In this situation, you might ask your employee to work an extra hour as overtime.

Meanwhile, Employee B’s contract specifies they start work at 12am and finish at 8am. Because of the extra hour, this means that Employee B will have to work for nine hours instead of their usual eight.

When to pay staff for the extra hour

If your employee contract states that they’re paid an hourly rate, you need to pay them an extra hour’s wages for the extra hour’s work.

Salaried employees get paid their normal salary regardless of whether they work an extra hour. However, you might need to check your business’s overtime policy if the extra hour takes the employee over their contracted hours.

Don’t fall below minimum wage

You must also be careful that the extra hour doesn’t take your employee’s pay below the legal rate.

Say you have a salaried employee on the National Minimum Wage. If they work an extra hour for no extra money, their hourly rate drops down, so you need to be careful you don’t underpay them…

Remember, all salaried workers are legally entitled to the National Minimum Wage, and for people aged 25 and over this is £8.21.

Check the rules on working time

Make sure that the extra hour doesn’t lead to a breach of other working time regulations. For adult workers, this means:

  • They must have at least 11 hours of rest time between shifts.
  • If they work for more than six hours, they’re entitled to a 20-minute break.
  • Night-workers must not work more than an average of eight hours in a 24-hour period.

For young workers, it’s slightly different. They must have at least 12 hours of rest between shifts, and they’re entitled to a 30-minute break if they work for more than four and a half hours.

Remind staff of the changes

If you have staff due in work on Sunday morning, make sure you remind them about the clocks going back. Or some could turn up for their shift an hour early, which they definitely won’t get paid for.

If this all sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry—we’re here to help. Our employment law experts are here 24/7 to answer your questions about working hours. Call today on 0800 028 2420.

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