Winter is finally here! At 2am on Sunday 29th October 2017, the clocks go back an hour.

But for employers what does this mean for your staff working a night shift?

  • Does your business have to pay staff for working an extra hour?
  • Can staff go home when they’ve worked their usual number of hours, even when the clock says they have an hour to go?
  • Are employees entitled to an extra hour’s pay if they are working when the clocks go back?

The clocks changing from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time can cause confusion among employees and employers if staff are working overnight.

Generally, it is for employers to decide how they handle the situation, but this is subject to the statutory rules on the national minimum wage and working time, and anything contained in the employees’ contracts of employment.

Helpful advice to employers:

Check the wording of contracts of employment

  • Employers should check the wording of the contracts of employees who are working when the clocks go back. By way of example, a shift could be said to be from 10pm to 6am or the requirement could be to work an “eight-hour shift”.
  • Your business does not necessarily have to pay employees for working an hour longer on a particular shift.
  • Employers can always choose to pay their employees for the extra hour, or to allow them to go home once they’ve worked the normal number of hours, regardless of their contractual obligations.

Be mindful of the national minimum wage

  • If an employee who is paid at or near the national minimum wage rate works an extra hour when the clocks go back, the employer must be careful that the extra hour does not take the employee’s pay below the relevant rate.

Make sure your business checks the rules on working time

  • Be cautious and obtain legal guidance if needs be. Check that the extra hour does not lead to a breach of the rules on maximum night time working hours and minimum rest breaks.

Be consistent

  • For some workers, the position will even out when they gain an hour when the clocks go forward again.
  • But this will not always be the case– a worker who works an extra hour in October 2017 might not be working the night shift when the clocks go forward again in March 2018.
  • In the interests of fairness, employers that require employees to work by the clock in October 2017 should do the same in March 2018, when they will be able to go home after working one less hour.

If your business has any queries about the above, requires guidance or support or in relation to Contracts of Employment; Working Time Regulations 1998; Shift Workers; the National Minimum Wage or any HR and Employment Law matter or dispute, please contact our specialist employment team on 0845 287 0939 or complete an online enquiry form.