Posted on 26.1.17
Danielle Ayres, Senior Associate in Employment Law at Gorvins Solicitors, has been featured in the Independent’s article ‘Are We All Working for Free?’.
The article discusses the concept of working above and beyond our basic paid-for hours, with workers in the UK giving their employers £31.5 billion-worth of unpaid overtime over the year.
Danielle Ayres, employment solicitor at Gorvins Solicitors, explained: “If the hours of work within a contract are set in stone i.e. 9.00am – 5.00pm, Monday to Friday and there is no mention of overtime then an employee can take a stand and refuse to work the hours being asked, however, it is usual for terms obliging employees to work additional hours ‘when necessary’ or ‘to properly perform their job’ to be included. Unfortunately, this means that more often than not employees will work overtime for no pay and it is expected in most jobs.”
However, if an employee believes their employer is being unreasonable then they should be able to challenge them without fear of consequences such as dismissal
“Employees should also consider whether their employer would be breaching certain legislation in relation to working time in asking them to work the additional hours, for example, would the employee be working more than 48-hours per week, when averaged out (when they have not given consent to do so), and are they making sure the employee is taking adequate breaks and having enough rest in between shifts?”
“Furthermore, asking staff to work unpaid overtime may mean the employer is falling short on their obligation to pay national minimum/living wage, if they break down how much they are paid over the hours they work. If this is the case an employer would have to pay any shortfall.”