How to deal with employees refusing weekend work

Peninsula Team

April 17 2014

What happens if you need employees to come to work on a Saturday and the employee refuses, citing a prior engagement? This will be a regular occurrence, can we draft it in terms and conditions for new employees?  Contracts of employment should set out information on the employee’s normal hours of work but this can take many different forms and, if carefully worded, can give the employer the room to require more from the employee. The contracts of fixed hours employees will give, for example, 9am – 5pm as normal working hours. Where this is not qualified, and without agreement from the employee, the employer may well be breaching the contract of employment by imposing different hours than the normal hours. However, some contracts contain a clause which states that in addition to normal hours, the employee may be required to work any other hours which are deemed necessary by the organisation. Even if infrequently used, the employer has a good argument to rely on this agreed clause to require the employee to be more flexible and attend the workplace on a weekend, as long as this is exercised in a reasonable manner. This may include giving good advance notice of the need to come in on a weekend. To avoid a similar situation occurring in the future, including a clause in all of your contracts of employment for new staff so that employees can expect the possibility of being required to attend weekend training is a good idea. Alternatively, more general wording can be used which allows you to require working hours to be set according to the needs of the business. Keeping an eye on the total number of working hours per week is advisable if you are to increase normal hours by an additional day every now and again. This depends on how many hours your staff normally work per week but this should not exceed an average of 48 hours calculated over a period of 17 weeks. You should also check that the extra training day does not breach your employees’ entitlement to statutory minimum rest periods. Call the Peninsula advice service on 0844 892 2772 for further information on this topic.

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