working long hours

The BBC has reported today that Scottish teachers are working substantial additional hours, without pay. Working long hours, whether paid or unpaid, can be a very serious source of friction between employers and employees. It is therefore important to be aware of a number of issues:-

THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT

The starting point is the contract of employment. If an employer wishes staff to work additional hours, it is very important to set this out in the contract of employment. In the absence of such a provision, it will be difficult for an employer to insist the employee works additional hours.

PAYMENT FOR OVERTIME

There is no requirement for an employer to pay for overtime, unless the contract provides for this. However, if the employee’s hourly rate falls below national minimum wage level (currently £6.50 per hour for employees aged 21 or over) as a result of unpaid overtime, the employer could face legal action and penalties. Employers should also bear in mind that unless an employee has opted out of the Working Time Regulations, the employee should not be asked to work more than an average of 48 hours per week.

THE RISKS OF EXCESSIVE OVERTIME

If an employee is obliged to work an excessive amount of overtime, an employer also runs the risk of a claim for constructive dismissal and, if the workload has an adverse effect on the employee’s health, a personal injury claim.

To hear Tony McGrade speak on this issue on BBC Radio Scotland’s John Beattie Programme this morning, follow this link (at 01:08:45)

Please let us know if you require any advice on this or any aspect of employment law. You can contact us on 0141 221 4488 or visit our homepage.

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