Do staff lose an hours’ pay when clocks go forward?

  • Employment Contract
A small desk clock with someone working an a computer in the background
Alan Price - Peninsula's Chief Operations Officer and CEO of BrightHR

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer

(Last updated )

It’s that time of year again. As we jump into spring, time jumps with us. We know that at 1am on 26th March, we all ‘lose’ an hour of our day. But what does this mean for the working day?

There’ll be employees working a night shift when the clocks go forward. Technically, they’ll be working an hour short.

This begs the question: do you have to pay staff the same pay for less work?

Here’s what you need to consider…

Are your staff on an hourly or fixed daily rate?

The first thing to consider is whether you pay your employees on an hourly or fixed daily rate.

If you pay your employees by the hour, their pay will vary whenever their working hours do.

Or, let’s say your employee is always contracted to work from 12am-8am. You pay them a fixed salary for that timeframe – even if they haven’t technically worked for eight hours. So, even if staff don’t work for the same amount of time, their pay shouldn’t change.

If you’re not sure which one applies to your staff, you need to check their employment contract.

Asking staff to work longer

Imagine your employee clocks off at 8am – but, as they haven’t worked their usual amount, you need them to stay an extra hour.

You’re paying staff for a full shift – but they haven’t completed their usual eight hours’ work. And if you have targets to hit, this could be an issue.

If you want your employee to work the extra hour, consider asking them to do paid overtime or give them time off in lieu. This means they can bank an hours’ holiday to use at another time – like if they want to leave early on a different day.

Alternatively, you can allow them to work the shorter shift but ask them to work the extra hour when the clocks go back in October. This evens out any lost time.

What’s in the contract?

The wording in the contract matters.

If your employee’s contract specifies the number of hours they should work, they should finish work at their usual time. It doesn’t matter if they’ve technically lost an hour. This would be the case if your staff are on zero-hour contracts.

If the contract specifies that the employee works within a timeframe, they can start and leave at those specific times. This applies even if they’ve worked an hour less.

So, if your employee is entitled to 35 hours’ pay each week, for example, you’ll need to pay that – even if they’ve only worked 34. If you want to change this, you’ll need to amend your contract.

Watch out for these pitfalls

Keep in mind that – unless they’ve opted out of the maximum weekly limit – your staff shouldn’t work above 48 hours each week. So, if you need to ask staff to work an hour longer, check whether this would breach this rule.

Their wages also can’t fall below the national minimum wage rate. If you pay staff by the hour, their average hourly rate could slip below the legal requirement if they work any longer.

You choose how to treat the lost hour

If it’s not a contractual obligation, whether you pay staff for the lost hour is up to you.  

But whatever you decide, you may need to amend staff contracts – and we’re here to help. For watertight staff contracts, call your Peninsula advisers today or discover expert documentation support.

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