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Q & A about contractual hours

View profile for Kate Fretten
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Twice a month I have to work Saturdays. This puts my hours up to 52 for that week. I don’t get any extra pay or time off in lieu. Is this legal?

  • This would not be an unlawful arrangement if those are your contractual hours and you agreed to them. Even if they were not your original hours, but hours that you have agreed to work over the last few years, they will have become part of your contract by custom and practice.

Shouldn’t I be paid something for the extra time?

  • Again, if you agreed to work those hours in return for the stated salary, then no. However, if your contract states that your contractual hours are , say, 40, and that you are entitled to overtime for anything over and above those hours, then the situation is more complicated. Contractually, you would be entitled to be paid for any overtime but if you have worked in this way for a few months or years, you may have inadvertently agreed to vary your terms of employment, so that you are no longer entitled to be paid overtime. If the contract is silent on overtime or you do not have a contract and have never been paid overtime, then you are not entitled to be paid it.

What about time off in lieu?

  • This situation is covered by the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), if not covered in your contract of employment. Under the WTR the maximum working week is 48 hours but this can be averaged over a 17 week period. If, when you average out hours worked over 17 weeks they do not exceed 48, then this is not unlawful. If however, they do exceed 48 hours and you have not signed an ‘opt out’ agreement which excludes the 48 hours working week, then this would be a breach of the WTR. The formula for working this out is set out in Regulation 4 of the WTR. In addition you are entitled to :
  • A daily rest of at least 11 hours
  • A weekly rest of at least 24 hours
  • A break period if your working day exceeds 6 hours

We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Employment team also cover Bournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Kate or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.