How many hours can I have my employees work? What if they work a second job?

Peninsula Team

February 28 2013

The current economic environment has meant that many individuals have had to take on a second job in order to supplement their income. While this is not illegal there are a number of important conditions that employers should be aware of if one of their employees has a second job. Read the full article here. Many employees can take on a second job to supplement their income, and in ordinary circumstances this should not cause must disruption however there are some conditions that employers should be aware of if an employee takes on a second job. How Many Hours Can I Have My Employees Work? Under Section 15 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, employees are not permitted to work over 48 hours a week. This time, however, is calculated over a set ‘reference period’, which is 4 months for typical work but can be extended to 6 months for work that is deemed to be seasonal and up to 12 months where a collective agreement is in place. This reference period must exclude any periods of annual leave, maternity leave, adoptive leave or any sickness absences. Therefore, it is important to note that an employee is not entitled to simply refuse working in excess of 48 hours in one week, but this surplus will need to be rectified in the corresponding reference period so as not to breach the Act. 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. Employees are entitled to receive an 11 consecutive hour daily rest period between their working days and a minimum of 24 consecutive hour rest period in a 7-day period. It is also important to note that where an employee is required to be ‘physically present’ in the work place whilst on call, this will be included as working time. What If My Employee Works A Second Job? Now that we understand the maximum hours an employee is permitted to work, we can look at the scenario that is presented should an employee work a second job. 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. If you suspect your employee is working a second job you can approach them informally seeking this information. With the employees agreement, you can ask them to state in writing what hours they are working in this second position and when. You will then, by totalling up their hours, be able to ensure that they are not working in excess of the 48 hour weekly maximum and that they are also receiving the required rest periods. This may have to be done on a regular basis if the hours are changeable to keep in line with the reference periods as above. If, however, the employee is not willing to volunteer this information you cannot compel them to do so, nor penalise them. However, if following from your investigations it is found that the employee is working in excess of the maximum working week, it is your duty as an employer to address this. One such way of doing so is by informing the employee of the surplus of hours and giving them the opportunity to rectify this with their other job. If nonetheless the employee is unwilling to do so, you should inform them that you may have to reduce their hours so that they do not exceed the maximum working week, as it should be noted that liability in this instance rests with the employer and the maximum award for breaches under this legislation is up to two years’ salary. This is a punitive award, done so in order to deter the employer in breaching the Act any further. Any agreement in reducing an employee’s hours should be communicated in writing along with the reasons for doing so. As mentioned it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that an employee’s working conditions do not fall foul of those stated in the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, so you must be proactive in addressing these matters. Should you have any queries relating to the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, or your responsibilities under this please don’t hesitate to contact our 24 Hour Advice Service on 01 855 5050

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