The idea of changing our clocks backwards and forwards between GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and BST (British Summer Time) was introduced to the UK in the early 1900s.
For most of us, it does not cause too many problems in our day-to-day life, particularly now that many devices automatically update the time and a lot of us are not at work; however, what if you have employees who work a night shift at the weekend? How should you handle the additional hour part way through a shift?
There is no real hard and fast rule for this scenario, although you should ensure that you always adhere to current legislation regarding minimum wages, maximum hours worked on a night shift, and rest break allowances. For some employers, this decision will made for them based on the terms of their contracts of employment.
Employers should make sure that they have reviewed all appropriate contracts well in advance of the clocks changing. If a contract states that the hours of work are 10pm to 8am, for example, the employer is required to start and finish work at these times. The decision is then up to the employer as to whether to remunerate staff for the extra hour they have worked or perhaps to agree time off in lieu.
If a contract simply states an eight-hour shift, things can become a little more difficult. In some businesses, it will not cause a problem to allow staff to simply leave work an hour earlier; however, if you are running a production line that cannot be stopped, or any 24-hour operation, this is unlikely to be possible.
In these circumstances, the employer will need to determine their own strategy to handle the additional hour, which should be as agreeable as possible to all parties concerned to avoid the potential for unrest amongst staff.
In the case of salaried staff, the extra hour does not cause as many problems. Salaried staff are less likely to have a set working pattern written into their contract, with ‘needs of the business’ generally prevailing.
Once an employer has decided how they are going to approach this additional hour, it should be applied consistently across all affected employees. In the interests of fairness, you should also apply the same logic to the lost hour in March when the clocks go forward.
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