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Are your employees working extra hours?

Last year, the nation witnessed ‘record highs’ of recruitment problems, putting livelihoods, businesses, and the economy at risk. Employers found it difficult to recruit talent and retain existing staff simultaneously.

Then suddenly, interest rates went through the roof, redundancies ensued, and budget belt buckles quickly tightened.

Regulations say that most workers can't be made to work more than an average of 48 hours a week, but they can agree to work longer.

When times get financially tough, many businesses will be looking to existing staff to manage what are likely to be increasing workloads, especially if you are required to save on costs.

If this is the situation in your business, remember to be mindful of the Working Time Regulations, check in regularly with your staff, and ensure you have the right paperwork in place.

Working Time Regulations

If employees are working extra hours, don’t forget about weekly working time limits and required minimum rest breaks. The rules under the Working Time Regulations for most adults are:

  • Maximum weekly working hours – 48 hours (including overtime) averaged over a 17-week reference period

  • Daily rest break – 20 minutes if the worker will work more than 6 hours

  • Daily rest period – 11 consecutive hours of rest in each 24-hour period

  • Minimum weekly rest period – 24 uninterrupted hours of rest in every seven-day period or one uninterrupted 48-hour rest in every 14 day period

  • Minimum paid holiday entitlement – 5.6 weeks per holiday year

It can be handy to know that:

  • The limit on weekly working hours won’t apply if your adult employee has voluntarily signed an opt-out agreement, we have a template available for employers to use so get in touch if you’d like one. Remember, even if an employee has signed an opt-out the other rules regarding working time will still usually apply.

  • There are special cases and exemptions in the Working Time Regulations and additional rules for night workers and young workers so contact us if you need information on these areas.

Remember to check in with your employees regularly

Keep an eye on your employee’s workloads, and ensure they remain manageable. You can do this by creating opportunities and providing support to any employee who needs it.

Help keep your business running smoothly by providing exceptional training, expert performance management plans proceeded by clear and open communication. 

Ensure the correct paperwork is in order and readily available

Whilst many employers will already have provisions in place for expected occurrences such as employees doing a bit of overtime (and any right to pay for this), there can be situations that are more unusual such as an employee ‘acting up’ for a temporary period or an agreement to vary normal working hours.

In this case, it’s important to make sure you have the paperwork in place that you need, this can help to make sure the situation is clear and avoid issues later on. If you would like help with this, get in touch.

Remember, not every employee can work extra hours

It’s important to remember that not all employees will be able (or willing) to work extra hours, or may not be able to do so at certain times.

This could be for reasons such as caring responsibilities, health issues, or religious reasons.

It’s important to ensure that issues around working hours and overtime are dealt with appropriately not only to avoid employee relations issues but also tribunal claims such as those for discrimination.

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