Should my staff work an extra hour when clocks go back?

  • Employment Contract
Alan Price - Peninsula's Chief Operations Officer and CEO of BrightHR

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer

(Last updated )

At 2am on 30th October, clocks will go back an hour.

This raises important questions for staff and employers, like will you need to pay night staff for working an extra hour? Or can your workers go home even if the clock says otherwise?

To prepare for the switch to GMT, here are the answers to your pressing questions…

Should my staff work the extra hour or not?

To find out if your staff should work the extra hour, you’ll need to check the wording in their contract.

If their contract specifies working hours, like ‘10pm to 6am’ for example, your staff would need to work the extra hour. Because the contract says they need to work between certain times, this would still apply even if they gained or lost an hour of work.

But if their contract only specifies how many hours they should work, like an eight-hour shift starting at 10pm, they can finish work ‘early’. Otherwise, they’d be working nine hours.

If you think either of these outcomes could cause issues, you may need to change your staff contracts.

Do I need to pay my staff for working an extra hour?

If your staff have to work the extra hour, whether you pay them for it or not will depend on how you usually pay them.

If you pay your staff hourly, you should pay them for working an extra hour.

If you pay your staff a salary, you shouldn’t need to pay more than your standard rate. Salary tends to already take into account the fact that employees may have to occasionally work longer hours. So, this would only change if you guarantee paid overtime, in which case you’d need to apply your overtime rules.

Even if you don’t have to pay your staff for the extra hour, you should think about how not doing so might affect morale. You always have the option to pay staff for the extra hour anyway or allow them to go home early, no matter what it says in their contract.

Are there any risks if staff work an extra hour?

If your staff work the extra hour and their average hourly wage falls below the national minimum wage, you’d have a legal issue on your hands.

Staff aged 23 and over must receive a minimum wage of £9.50 an hour. You can find out someone’s hourly wage by dividing how much they get paid across the pay reference period by the number of hours they work.

So, if you ask staff to work this extra hour with no pay, you’ll need to make sure they aren’t falling below this minimum requirement.

Also, remember there are specific working regulations for night workers.

On average, night workers should not work more than eight hours in 24 hours. So, you’ll need to make sure your staff don’t exceed this limit by working the extra hour.

What if I want staff to work the extra hour but they don’t have to?

If you try to make staff work over their contracted hours, you’d be breaching their contract.

To avoid contractual issues, you could offer your staff paid overtime for working the extra hour. Or, you could agree to reduce their hours across a number of nights, like allowing them to leave 15 minutes early for a few days to make up the time.

If you do this, you’d need to keep a record of it.

How can I support staff who are working the extra hour?

Aside from pay and legal duties, be aware that asking staff to work an extra hour might be tough for them.

Ultimately, be considerate if you’re asking staff to work overtime. Taking steps to help them feel more comfortable, like offering snacks and extra breaks, can help keep morale up.

This support is especially important around this time of year when seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is most prevalent. Those who suffer with SAD may experience low mood, low energy, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

As SAD affects people primarily in winter, it’s sometimes called ‘winter depression’.

If any of your workers are experiencing SAD, it’s important you take steps to support them. Make sure you have open discussions about mental health at work and the support systems you have in place. If you have an EAP service, remind staff about it and check in with them one-to-one regularly.

Should I ask staff to work the extra hour?

If there’s nothing in their contract to say staff can’t work the extra hour, what you choose to do is at your discretion. But, you’ll need to act consistently and fairly.

Say you decide to ask staff to work an extra hour now. When clocks go forward, it would be wise to allow them to go home an hour early to cancel this out. If you decide to do this, you’ll again need to act in line with national minimum wage and working hours requirements.

Are your contracts up to date?

Whatever you decide to do about the extra hour, you may need to amend your staff contracts. That’s where we can help. To get a free consultation about your paperwork or have an expert review your contracts over the phone, call 0800 029 4384 today.

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