Working when the clocks go back: how do employers handle the extra hour?

How does the extra hour affect night working? Photo: Shutterstock

The clocks go back one hour at 2:00am on Sunday 27 October 2019. But what does this mean for staff working a night shift? Must they be paid for working an extra hour? Or can they go home when they’ve worked their usual number of hours, even when the clock says they have an hour to go?

The clocks changing from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) can cause confusion among employees and employers if staff are working overnight.

Generally, it is for employers to decide how they handle the situation, but this is subject to the statutory rules on the national minimum wage and working time, and anything contained in the employees’ contracts of employment.

Check the wording of contracts

Employers should check the wording of the contracts of employees who are working when the clocks go back. For example, a shift could be said to be from 10pm to 6am or the requirement could be to work an “eight-hour shift”.

Employers don’t necessarily have to pay employees for working an hour longer on a particular shift. The situation can differ for hourly paid and salaried employees.

A salaried employee is more likely than an hourly paid employee to be required to work extra hours without additional pay. However, as long as the employer is paying at least the national minimum wage, entitlement to payment will depend on the employer’s rules on overtime.

Of course, employers can always choose to pay their employees for the extra hour, or to allow them to go home once they’ve worked the normal number of hours, regardless of their contractual obligations.

Don’t fall below the national minimum wage

If an employee who is paid at or near the national minimum wage rate works an extra hour when the clocks go back, the employer must be careful that the extra hour does not take the employee’s pay below the relevant rate.

Check the rules on working time

Employers should also be careful that the extra hour does not lead to a breach of the rules on maximum night time working hours and minimum rest breaks.

Be consistent

For some workers, the position will even out when they gain an hour when the clocks go forward again.

But this won’t always be the case – a worker who works an extra hour in October might not be working the night shift when the clocks go forward again in March.

Nevertheless, in the interests of fairness, employers that require employees to work by the clock in October should do the same in March, when they will be able to go home after working an hour less.

This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated. 

4 Responses to Working when the clocks go back: how do employers handle the extra hour?

  1. Avatar
    Cat 14 Nov 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    What would the law say if in the contract of employment stated that the employee was promised a certain rate of pay per hour depending on the times of day? So for instance if they were paid £9 per hour between 8pm and 8am. If they were then neither paid the extra hour because the clocks went back or allowed to leave early, would this be legal? Surely it should be one or the other and as the contract states £9 per hour worked every hour should be paid?

  2. Avatar
    carrie 4 Nov 2018 at 5:53 am #

    how does this article even make any sense in the United States of America in California because october 28th, 2018 was this past monday not Sunday. and to my knowledge the clocks turn back after midnight tonite
    which right now it’s Saturday 1053pm pst

    • Avatar
      A Person 26 Nov 2019 at 11:56 am #

      This article applies specifically to workers in the UK.

  3. Avatar
    Jim 7 Nov 2018 at 1:33 am #

    My rate dropped to £7.37 after doing a 13 hour shift and only getting paid for 12.

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