Work - The pros and the cons...
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  • Moto70
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    I'm having some issues at work.

    I do a basic 40 hour week on a salary, if I go over my hours I take the time off at a later date either by having full days off or finishing an hour earlier over several days. I have now been told I shouldn't be doing that so I said fine I'll not work more than my 40 hours. They told me that everybody else is on a 48 hour contract and they frequently work 54-60 hours and don't get extra pay or the time off.

    I asked them outright if what they are saying is that they want me to work more hours than I'm paid for but with no renumeration for it? They said no but, and then repeated the same thing. I said I'm not sure what they are saying so they'd best put it in writing.

    This is what the contract they handed me now says...

    Your usual hours of work will be based on 40 hours per week.

    Hours may vary from time to time and there may be occasions when you will be asked to work other hours that have been agreed with you in order to meet the demands on our business, or to ensure the proper performance of your role within the business.


    The problem is is that there is no mention of extra pay or time in lieu so they are asking me to work for nothing. I have been in touch with ACAS and they have said that it is too ambiguous for a contract and if I do work extra hours and don't get renumeration for them my employer is actually breaking the law through 'unlawful deductions from wages'.

    Most people at work are on salary but the are some that are on hourly but the main thing is that I don't want to risk my job but on the flip side I don't want to be bullied into working for nothing. We may not just be talking an hour or so after work but coming in on weekends as well.

    I really don't know what to do...
  • Skerret
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    I know nothing of jobs but there are loads here who'll sort you out I'm sure.  Sounds like bollocks at their end though, don't be bullied by no cunt.*

    *Edited for impact, in case they read this.
    Skerret's posting is ok to trip balls to and read just to experience the ambience but don't expect any content.
    "I'm jealous of sucking major dick!"~ Kernowgaz
  • I'd ask for them to specify in writing what happens when you work more than your contracted hours, pointing out to them that ACAS have said the contract is too ambiguous.
  • Their statement is flawed that is says from time to time and on occasion.

    If you have been there more than a year then I would proper fight it.

    they are being unreasonable and you could argue you have grounds for constructive dismissal if they force you out because of it.

    Depends how long you have been there as well.
  • The second you bring ACAS into a conversation with your employer, you could have done a lot of damage. What you should do depends on the company size, who you're having this conversation with, the type of industry and the job role itself. None of these things should matter, but they do. 

    If its a small place and you're having this conversation with the bloke you sit next to everyday, I'd avoid the ACAS talk. If its a big place, and you're having this out with a HR dept then use every tactic at your disposal. If what they're doing wouldn't stand up in court, they'd probably make quite a few concessions to keep the whole thing quiet.

    Are people working an extra 6-12 hours most weeks? If so, that's scandalous. Although in some professions unpaid overtime is rife anyway and you can probably expect more of the same at another company (who would also ask why you left your last job). 
  • Moto70
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    Ive been here around 16 months, I am going to email them (so that it is in writing) saying that the contract is too vague and does not cover specifics, like I said normally it wouldn't worry me but my bosses are notorious for just getting rid of people on the spot, some just accept it and a few fight it and they always get paid out just before it goes to court.

    I was unsure whether to mention ACAS already so I thought I'd just test the water first...

    Yes most people are doing the extra hours because they're terrified of being out of work, some are on £50k but most are barely above minimum wage. I'm on £25k...
  • Also I think unless you have formally opted out of the working time directive you can't work those sorts of hours.

    That said most people in my office work pretty flexibly. For anything significant it's time off in lieu. The odd extra bit here and there is considered part of the culture.

    That wording about from time to time sounds similar to what's in my contract. But it's certainly not unreasonable to want to clarify what happens if you do more or less than 40 hours. I'd suggest coming to an informal agreement wIth your manager before going formal.
  • Moto70 wrote:
    Ive been here around 16 months, I am going to email them (so that it is in writing) saying that the contract is too vague and does not cover specifics, like I said normally it wouldn't worry me but my bosses are notorious for just getting rid of people on the spot, some just accept it and a few fight it and they always get paid out just before it goes to court. I was unsure whether to mention ACAS already so I thought I'd just test the water first... Yes most people are doing the extra hours because they're terrified of being out of work, some are on £50k but most are barely above minimum wage. I'm on £25k...

    I work pretty flexibly tbh, although I'm contracted for 40 hours a week, I'm sure I've not done 40 hours in god knows how long, but unfortunately it seems to be the nature of the job I'm in.

    Right, anyway. I think you've hit the nail on the head right at the end. yes, what they are doing is at best morally dodgy (more work from the same people for less money, therefore no need to take on extra staff), and possibly even unlawful. However, if you need/want the job, this sounds like the nature of the beast. I do think an informal chat with someone is worthwhile though, if only to find out how much extra time you may be working (and extra 5 hours may well be ok, but 10 hours or weekends is in my mind, unacceptable). I would not involve ACAS, as already said, once you raise something formally, you are sticking your head above the parapet.

    The thing is, whilst the law looks like it's on the side of the employee, the employer can really do what they want in terms of contracts, employment, etc, especially in these economic times. Make you work longer? Sack you without proper notice? They will do that, then, if you take them to a trib., they will either pay out before the hearing or lose and pay out afterwards. Unfortunately, whether or not you win, you still haven't got a job and they've got rid of you.
  • I'm probably not the best person to comment on this, having had only one good job, and even then I told them to go fuck themselves, but joining a union seems like an excellent idea. They will advise you best on what to do.

    Personally, I'd tell them to go fuck themselves, although this probably explains why I do not have a job.
  • Its poorly worded but those are pretty standard contract terms. The only thing that you could possibly dispute is the definition of what constitutes proper performance of your role.
  • A cursory glance at UK employment law suggests that unless you have signed a contract that says otherwise, it seems that there's no legal obligation for your employer to pay you additionally (or give you TOIL) for overtime, although your average hourly rate should not drop below minimum wage overall, when taking this into account.  You cannot be forced to work more than 48hrs in a week, however.

    Basically, it seems it all depends on the contract you signed when you started your job.
  • Moto70
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    ...but surely if there is no obligation for your employer to pay you overtime there is no obligation for you to work it?

    Also ACAS said that if you work additional hours to your contract and are not reimbursed (either financially or in lieu) then the employer is breaching your contract with 'unlawful deduction of wages'.
  • Is this the design job, or the post job?

    Standard practice in a lot of places, especially in design – work late when you're told. And there's no union to join.
  • Oh hey this could go here too.
  • Here's the letter of the law.
    Specifically, overtime.
  • Moto70
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    Is this the design job, or the post job? Standard practice in a lot of places, especially in design – work late when you're told. And there's no union to join.
    It's the sign making one, Royal Mail pay you for your hours worked.

    Can somebody else look at that link because the way I'm reading it is that I don't have to be paid for overtime and if it's in my contract to do overtime then I have to do it, without pay but as long as my wages don't fall below minimum wage?

    So I can be on a salary of £25k but I can be told that I have to work more hours than my 40, doesn't this effectively lower my wages? If I averaged an extra 8 hours per week then my hourly pay will drop from £12.01 to £10.01 which I don't think is fair, I've already said I'll do 80 hours a week if they want me to and I don't want paying but I do want the time back, how is that unfair.

    This whole thing fucking stinks, surely there should be a law that says if you work you get paid. If I was on good money I wouldn't mind throwing in some extra hours but if I start having to do extra days then as far as I see it I'm on less money than I agreed to when they approached me to work for them...
  • davyK
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    It's a question of balance - the odd few hours here and there over a long period isn't a big deal - extra days is pushing it.

    Many jobs are deadline related and provided you are given reasonable goals then occasionally having to do some extra time to make a deadline without pay is reasonable too - especially if the pay is good.

    If extra hours start to become a regular part of the working week, and the workload couldn't really be done in a normal working week, then I'd say it isn't unreasonable to think about asking for extra pay - but you would need evidence about the workload, regularity of extra hours worked etc. to have a real conversation about it.

    I'm starting to sound like Sir Humphrey so I'll shut up now.

  • Also, this wording
    Your usual hours of work will be based on 40 hours per week.

    Hours may vary from time to time
    Reads to me like it is ok to do less that 40 hours sometimes, ie what you were doing before taking the time off at a later date when things were a bit quieter
  • Moto70
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    Also, this wording
    Your usual hours of work will be based on 40 hours per week. Hours may vary from time to time
    Reads to me like it is ok to do less that 40 hours sometimes, ie what you were doing before taking the time off at a later date when things were a bit quieter
    ...and others here already do the same, so it makes it even more difficult to understand.

    I had the main woman come and see me last week and she said that I'm not allowed to do what I'm doing with taking time off to cover extra hours I've done. She then went on to say what would I do if they needed me in on a Sunday and said of course I'd do it to get the work done, she then said and because you're on salary you'd be given, say, a Friday off. I asked how is that any different to what I'm doing now? She said because I'm not allowed to carry the time over, I said it's probably best she put it in writing as I didn't really understand what she was saying and that's when they gave me the new contract...
  • Well that sounds alright then - you get Friday off if you have to work on a Saturday. Seems like if you get that in writing you're golden?

    I do hate that in the name of "increased productivity" and "attracting investment into Britain" our representatives have legislated away so many of our rights. Look at Germany - average of 40 days off, fair wages, unionised workforce. But what's that oh shit they have the best economy in Europe wtf.
  • Moto70
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    The trouble is is that she is a cunt. She refused to acknowledge that I was even on a 40 hour contract saying that I should be doing 48 hours yet when I pointed out that the very day I started there I told her I wasn't signing a 48 hour contract which she denied ever happened.

    I was then told by payroll that what I told them happened at last week's meeting was poles apart from what she had told them happened, this is why I asked for it in writing and she hasn't included the TOIL in the contract because she said we're not allowed it despite what she told me in our earlier meeting.
  • Sorry if I missed something Moto but did you not sign a contract before you started work in the first place, as is usual practise?
  • First off, I'd request a copy of your current contract if you don't have one already. If at all possible you need to bypass this woman and speak to someone else.

    Your usual hours of work will be based on 40 hours per week.

    Hours may vary from time to time and there may be occasions when you will be asked to work other hours that have been agreed with you in order to meet the demands on our business, or to ensure the proper performance of your role within the business.

    In regards to the proposed contract, it seems to me that they can't force you to work the extra, they have to agree it with you. So unless you think it's reasonable, don't do it. If it's routine, then they need to give you a contract for longer hours, naturally for higher pay.
  • Funkstain wrote:
    I do hate that in the name of "increased productivity" and "attracting investment into Britain" our representatives have legislated away so many of our rights. Look at Germany - average of 40 days off, fair wages, unionised workforce. But what's that oh shit they have the best economy in Europe wtf.

    It's very easy to end up with too much employment red tape though, which puts off employers from recruiting. This is something France has always struggled with, for example.

    Anyway, back on topic, if Moto has a contract saying 40 hours then, as you say, he's sorted. The rest is some idiot in HR trying it on.
  • Moto70
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    Sorry if I missed something Moto but did you not sign a contract before you started work in the first place, as is usual practise?
    I was offered a £25k salary and because hours weren't discussed I presumed this would be based on a normal 40 hour week, on the day I started I was given a contract and I saw the 48 hour bit. I immediately contacted the owner and had a meeting where the woman I mentioned earlier was present, I explained that for the salary they had given me there is no way I'd be doing a 6 day week as this would mean that the money I was on was less than I was earning 7-8 years ago. The owner said fine and we'll see how it goes, this was 16 months ago. No contract was signed but because of that meeting I assumed that we had a verbal contract.

    Now because I have loads of work to do, I am doing alone a job that requires 2-3 people, and I have built up around 14 days (112 hours) of TOIL they are saying I can't take it. I pointed out that our site manager actually wanted me to work more hours and then take August off and they have said that he shouldn't have said that and I'm not entitled to the hours I've already done. It all 'came to light' when I booked 6 days off at the end of this month to go and see my Dad in Spain and even though I filed a holiday request form I said that I'd be using 6 days of my accrued time.

    The whole thing is proper pissing me off and I can't figure out why they can't be reasonable? I'm not asking for anything unreasonable nor am I refusing to work extra hours but surely this should flow both ways?
  • Did you sign the contract that stated 48 hours?
  • Moto70
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    Nope, I refused to and said that for £25k I would only do a 40 hour week, that's when the owner said fine we'll do that and see how it goes. They mentioned last week that I still hadn't signed a contract and explained it all again, the woman denied even being there and hearing the 40 hours mentioned, but then last week this new contract appeared with the 40 hours on it.

    I still haven't signed this because of the ambiguity about working extra hours with no renumeration.
  • cockbeard
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    I've been out the game a while but I'm sure your last 13 weeks constitute your normal working hours, no matter what your contract says
    "I spent years thinking Yorke was legit Downs-ish disabled and could only achieve lucidity through song" - Mr B
  • Moto70 wrote:
    No contract was signed but because of that meeting I assumed that we had a verbal contract... I'm not asking for anything unreasonable nor am I refusing to work extra hours but surely this should flow both ways?
    No contract, not much you can do I think, unless they're acting unlawfully. 

    As I understand it (emplyoment law) though, you cannot be forced to work more than 48 hrs a week (averaged over 17 weeks), unless you specifically signed an agreement stating that you opt out of the 48hr/wk maximum.

    If you did or do sign such an agreement then your employer is still bound by the minimum wage stipulation in that your hourly rate must still exceed minimum wage regardless of how many hours you work (not that that's likely to be an issue on a 25k salary).  Beyond that, there's no entitlement for TOIL or overtime pay, unless it's in your contract.
  • Moto70
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    As far as I know you are working under contract regardless of whether one is signed or not.
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