Great Britain

How the clocks going back could mean you’ll work an extra hour for free

THE clocks go back an hour this Sunday, October 25, meaning an extra hour in bed for many of us.

But for many night shift workers the clocks changing could mean an extra hour of work, sometimes without getting any extra pay.

More than 3million people work night shifts in the UK, meaning one in nine workers could be affected by changes to daylight hours.

Below we explain the rules around working when the clocks change and how to understand your rights.

Will I have to work an extra hour?

Whether or not you need to work an extra hour will depend on how your employment contract is worded.

If it says that you have to work specific times, for example from 12am to 8am, you are likely to have to work the extra hour, according to employment law experts at Real Employment Law Advice (RELA).

But if it states the number of hours you should work, for example an eight-hour shift, you should be allowed to finish an hour early, they added.

Will I get paid for working an extra hour?

If you're one of the unlucky people who has to work the extra hour, whether you will get some extra cash depends on how you are usually paid.

If you're paid by the hour, you should get some extra money for working longer.

But if you are salaried or paid a day rate, your company doesn't have to pay you any more than usual, RELA said.

The exception to this is if the extra hour pushes your equivalent hourly wage below the national minimum wage, which is currently £8.72 per hour for workers over 25.

Meanwhile, 21-24-year-olds get paid £8.20 an hour, workers between 18 and 20 earn £6.45 and those under 18 have a minimum hourly rate of £4.55.

The national minimum wage rates change every April, you can check out the website for more information.

What rights do night workers have?

IF you work night shifts you have certain rights, according to the Working Time Regulations.

You are classed as night worker if you work at least three hours through the night, usually between 11pm until 6am.

Workers can also agree a different night period with their employer, but it must be seven hours long and include midnight to 5am.

If you do night work, you shouldn't work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period. This is usually calculated over a 17-week period.

Regular overtime is included in this average and workers cannot opt out of this limit.

Because of the health impacts of nightime working, your employer must offer you a free health assessment before you start and then regularly throughout your employment.

You also have rights to breaks.

If your shift is longer than six hours, you are allowed at least a 20-minute break.

You must also have at least 11 consecutive hours' rest in any 24-hour period and one day off each week or two consecutive days off in a fortnight.

Young workers have extra rights to breaks, you can find out more on the website.

If you think your employer is not following the Working Time Regulations, employment rights firm ACAS says you should raise the matter informally first.

If this does not work, you can raise a formal complaint in writing.

As a last resort, you can consider making a complaint to an employment tribunal or Health and Safety Executive.

To calculate your equivalent hourly wage, take the amount you're being paid for the shift and divide it by the number of hours you've worked.

If you're asked to work extra for no pay, it's worth double-checking to make sure you don't dip below the minimum legal requirement.

Anyone who thinks they aren't getting the minimum wage should complain to their employer in the first instance.

If this doesn't take you anywhere, you can make a complaint to HMRC which will investigate.

It could be worth flagging to your employer even if you're not entitled to extra pay, for instance because you're on a fixed salary and earning more than minimum wage.

Your company might ask you to start an hour later or let you leave an hour earlier. Or it might offer to pay you overtime for the extra hour.

We explain your rights if you're worried about going to work during a second coronavirus wave or local lockdown.

Plus, we explain whether you can refuse to go back to work if your office doesn't follow Covid-secure rules.

Last year, it was announced that bosses will have to pay casual workers if they cancel shifts under new rules.

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