Holland & Barrett employee wins overtime case for opening and closing up

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Retailers whose staff work extra hours to open and close the store should ensure their employees are adequately remunerated for such duties after a tribunal ruled that health food chain Holland & Barrett made unlawful deductions from the pay of an employee who was required to carry out tasks beyond his contracted hours.

Mr Fitz was employed as a supervisor and was required to cover for the store manager if they were absent. This required opening the store in the morning and closing the store in the evening, among other tasks that needed to be completed during opening hours.

Closing the store involved four stages: closing the tills on the shop floor; reconciling the tills in the back office; closing the register and locking up the store, all of which Holland & Barrett told the tribunal took a few minutes.

However, Fitz claimed that he also had to undertake other additional tasks at the end of the day, such as cleaning, checking the fridge and freezer temperature, and performance and sales target calculations.

He claimed he had clocked up over two hundred hours in overtime after his contracted shifts were due to finish, for which he was not paid.

The retailer’s area sales manager told the tribunal that it is common practice across the retail sector for managers not to be paid for time spent closing a shop.

However, the tribunal found that as Fitz was employed on a fixed hours’ contract, it was implied that that he – and any other employee with fixed hours – would be paid for any overtime they carried out.

In her judgment, employment judge Mary Siddall says: “There is nothing in writing that makes it clear that when covering for the manager, the claimant would have to complete the shop closing procedure without pay and this is considered part of his normal duties which are compensated for in the hourly rate.

“In any event, it is clear that closure of the store took place at the end of the working day, and after the time the claimant’s shift was due to end.”

Fitz also claimed that the company had made unlawful deductions from his wages by reducing his contracted hours. However, the tribunal found that Fitz had accepted the change in hours when he agreed to the new contract and continued working for the retailer.

Holland & Barrett was ordered to pay Fitz £1,019.75 in compensation for the overtime worked.

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