Are workers’ rights affected when the clocks go back?

The clocks go back at 2am this Sunday, 29th October and, while that means an extra hour in bed for most of us, there are some employment law considerations that should be taken into account.

Night shift workers might be rostered on from, say, midnight to 8am.  When the clocks go back they will end up working 9 hours as 8am becomes 7am.  Things are slightly different for salaried workers but either way this is something which should be addressed by employers and employees.

Workers who are paid on an hourly basis must be renumerated for the additional hour worked.  For salaried workers the normal salary will usually include things like the extra hour worked when the clocks go back.  That said, it’s still a good idea for employers to check the company’s overtime rules – will the extra hour need to be taken into account?

The place to start with these issues in the contract of employment – what does it say about the terms and conditions of work?  Is any specific provision made for the situation where an employee works an extra hour in these circumstances?  Details regarding overtime rules and hourly pay should be covered in the contract.

There may also be health and safety concerns for workers who operate in an environment where they are not allowed to work for more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period.

As with any potential change to work conditions (even if temporary), it’s important for employers to ensure that they meet their obligations at all times.  Similarly, employees will want to be aware of their rights so that the introduction of winter time doesn’t cause any issues in the workplace.


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