A LAWYER has revealed what an employee’s rights are if an employer tries to force them to undertake overtime.
Under the Working Time Regulations, an employee cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours per week.
The regulations cover all part-time and full-time workers, including most agency workers and freelancers, although there are some exceptions, such as members of the police and armed forces.
Jo Mackie, head of employment at legal firm Slater & Gordon told The Sun Online: “Employees only have to work ‘overtime‘ if their contract stipulates that, and even if the contract does say so an employee cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours per week under the Working Time Regulations.”
She added: “An employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment by law, and that includes making sure an employee is not working too many hours.”
However, workers are urged to check their contracts as there could be a clause about having to work overtime.
Ms Mackie, who has 20 years of experience practising employment law, said: “If you’ve not expressly asked to opt out of the 48-hour working week your employer cannot make you work longer than that unless your contracts stipulates that you are contracted to work more hours.”
Workers can though opt out of the regulations set out in 1988 which some people may be happy to do as the cost of living continues to bite and household struggle in the financial climate.
Should a company try to force a worker to undertake overtime past their 48 hours there are options someone can take to prevent this.
In the first instance, Ms Mackie advised that a worker should raise a formal grievance with their employer.
Although if the problem persists, workers also have another option.
Ms Mackie said: “Employees also have a right to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal if they’ve been working for the employer for 2 years or more.”
The Essentials of the Working Time Regulations
Required to work an average of/maximum 48 hours per week – unless they specifically opt out
Entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year
Permitted one consecutive hours’ rest in any 24-hour period
Entitled to a 20-minute rest break – for working days longer than six hours
Eleven hours of rest between working days
Given a minimum of one day off a week
Not allowed to work more than eight hours on a night shift in any 24-hour period
Limited to eight hours a day – or 40 hours a week – if the employee is aged between 16-18
This though would mean taking their case to an Employment Tribunal.
Ms Mackie said: “My personal view is that so long as we retain the rights enshrined in the Working Time Regulations then employees have protection from bosses who want them to work all the hours.”