Legal Contracted Hours: Understanding Your Rights as an Employee
As an employee, it is important to understand your rights, including your legal contracted hours. Your contracted hours refer to the number of hours you are expected to work each week or month as part of your employment agreement. These hours are set out in your employment contract and should be agreed upon by both you and your employer.
In most cases, your contracted hours should be clear and specific, outlining your start and finish times and any breaks you are entitled to. By law, your employer must provide you with a written statement of your main employment terms, including your contracted hours, within two months of starting your job.
However, some employers may expect you to work additional hours on top of your contracted hours, whether paid or unpaid. It is important to understand your rights around overtime and any additional hours you may be required to work.
Overtime refers to any additional hours you work over and above your contracted hours. Your employer may require you to work overtime in certain circumstances, such as to meet unexpected deadlines or during busy periods.
If you are asked to work overtime, your employer must pay you for these additional hours. The rate of pay for overtime can vary depending on your employment contract, industry or sector, and any relevant collective bargaining agreements.
In some cases, your employer may ask you to take time off in lieu of payment for overtime hours. This means you can take additional time off at a later date instead of being paid for your overtime hours. However, you must agree to this arrangement in advance and your employer must keep accurate records of the overtime hours worked and the time off given in lieu.
It is worth noting that some employees may be exempt from the right to overtime pay, such as those in senior management positions or those who receive a salary rather than an hourly rate. However, this will depend on your employment contract and the laws in your country.
Additional hours refer to any hours you may be expected to work beyond your contracted hours, but which are not classed as overtime. For example, your employer may expect you to work an extra half hour each day to help with closing up the workplace, or to attend staff meetings outside of your normal working hours.
If you are asked to work additional hours, you should check your employment contract to see whether you are entitled to any additional pay or time off in lieu. If there is no provision for additional hours in your contract, you may have difficulty arguing for additional payment or time off.
Employers may also try to use “flexitime” arrangements to blur the lines between contracted hours and additional hours. Flexitime schemes allow you to vary your start and finish times within set limits, but you should still be clear on the hours you are contracted to work and any additional hours you may be expected to work.
In conclusion, understanding your legal contracted hours and any additional hours or overtime you may be required to work is important for protecting your rights as an employee. If you have any concerns about your work hours or pay, you should consult your employer or seek legal advice.