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How long can an employer keep you for at work?

(29 Posts)
RoseWei Mon 20-May-13 12:16:21

DH has a part time job working in a fast food restaurant - part of a well known chain.

Last year he was told that their regulations allowed managers to keep staff back for a further 15 minutes at the end of their shift when necessary. This would normally be no problem for him, a loyal worker.

Last night they asked him to stay on for an indeterminate length of time when he had already worked 50 minutes longer than he had been scheduled to do. He normally would have stayed even later to help further, but simply couldn't on that occasion. The manager became very angry, and said that the 15 minutes limit no longer applied: working regulations for the company had allegedly been changed over the past year, and managers could now keep staff back for as long as the needs of the company required this!

He'd started work at 5pm and it by then almost midnight. More importantly, he was starting a new job the next morning and in fact mentioned this to the manager.

DH is dealing with the issue of her behaviour separately. However, my question is as follows:

Certainly DH never received any notification of any such change. But does anyone know the legal position? Many thanks.

quoteunquote Mon 20-May-13 12:20:05

Does he get paid when he is required to stay and do overtime?

noisytoys Mon 20-May-13 12:20:26

They are taking the piss. Your DH shouldn't be expected to work beyond his contracted hours at all

RoseWei Mon 20-May-13 12:27:17

Hi quote- thanks. DH is hourly paid and yes, he is paid for o/t. Does this make a difference?

Noisy - his contracted hours are 16 per week. Sometimes he's offered less and sometimes he volunteers for more. Odd thing this contract - the company would say that though 16 hours is cited, it is really a zero hours contract ie no guaranteed no of hours at all. It is though a permanent contract - it doesn't add up to me.

Our question really is - is an employer allowed to keep you past your allocated hours - by implication, according to this manger, for an unlimited amount of time. He was, on this occasion, down for 5 -11pm but stayed until nearly midnight though the manager wanted him for an unspecified amount of time after that. (Her manner was awful - but that may be a separate issue.)


flowery Mon 20-May-13 12:36:49

Depends entirely on his contract. As long as they are paying him there are no pay implications, so it depends what his contract says about flexibility/requirement for overtime etc

towicymru Mon 20-May-13 12:38:39

It would depend on the wording in the contract, although going on what you've said about him not having fixed hours that could be unenforceable! We have wording in our contract that says people are expected to work reasonable overtime when required. The definition of reasonable is open to question but I would say that being asked to stay on without prior notice would be classed as unreasonable by a tribunal.

RoseWei Mon 20-May-13 12:44:25

Extra Info:

DH has just contacted Company HQ. HR there said that since the restaurant in question is part of a franchise, it was down to the franchisee to set such limits. Company restaurants, he was told, would normally specify about 15 - 20 minuts beyond contracted hours as reasonable.

Implication was that the Company could have no role whatever in how a franchisee runs operations. DH suggested that the Company must surely intervene sometimes, if what a franchisee does is not in keeping with Company policy. No real response. DH was told to contact the HR for the franchise, which he will do.

ivykaty44 Mon 20-May-13 12:47:01

tell him to contact his union and see what they can advise him.

I would imagine that if you were working and had to pick up a child from childcare or a dependant needed you then this would be a real problem or even appointments after work time - a company keeping there staff back after shift is different from working overtime which has been advised with notice and agreed by both parties.

it is not reasonable to tell an employee at the end of their shift these they are not allowed to leave and must work until they are told they may leave

flowery Mon 20-May-13 12:55:19

It's fair enough for the franchisee, who is owner of the business, to set staffing policy etc. I would focus on whether his contract includes a provision for this or not in terms of deciding whether he is prepared to stay or will walk out.

ThingummyBob Mon 20-May-13 12:57:09

Its pretty normal in fast food restaurants ime.

He probably does have a zero hours contract, with a separate agreement that he will be rota'd 16 hours per week where possible.

This used to happen to me at mcd's in1990 and it wasn't a franchised store either.
The nature of fast food places means that flexibility is always going to be needed. I have a younger friend who works there now, she could put her foot down and simply leave but I doubt she be scheduled many more shifts afterwards. Its annoying I agree.

RoseWei Mon 20-May-13 12:59:20

ivy - I agree - it seems very unreasonable. From the franchisee's employees' handbook:

"Because of what we do, you may sometimes be asked to continue working a little past your normal finishing time ...., "

The manager's reference to 'as long as the company needs you' isn't the same thing at all - DH had already worked another hour and there was every suggestion that he'd be there a lot longer - past midnight and with a new job starting in the morning.

Unions are not recognised in this company.

Flowery and towi - thanks. No contract - but only a letter of introduction which does not specify hours. It really is hit and miss as to what anyone gets even if, like DH, they are permanent staff.

flowery Mon 20-May-13 13:09:42

How is it a 16 hour contract if the only form of contract he has doesn't specify hours at all? Do you mean he has been doing 16 hours for so long you consider those to be his contractual hours?

BenjaminButton172 Mon 20-May-13 13:15:18

At my place of work (not a fast food restaurant) expect u to work if they need. You can however refuse. The manager doesnt like it but theres nothing the manager can do.

I dont mind staying on and helping sometimes but i wouldnt like someone demanding that i stay.

ivykaty44 Mon 20-May-13 13:49:46

It doesn't matter whether unions are recognised or not - you can still belong to a union and you can still ask for their help and assistance

Because of what we do, you may sometimes be asked to continue working a little past your normal finishing time ...., "

asked is the key word

it doesn't say

Because of what we do, you may sometimes be Told to continue working a little past your normal finishing time ...., "

BenjaminButton172 Mon 20-May-13 14:36:13

Ivykaty i think u have it spot on. Many people would not mind working overtime if they were ASKED. I wish some employers would see it this way.

squawkparrot Mon 20-May-13 17:10:37

People often say, "they can't do that it's against the law". That's a misunderstanding; to take it to an extreme, you can't murder someone, it's against the law, but, people still murder others.

Many firms are behaving really badly during this recession and if you try to enforce your rights, or, you tell your employer you have rights, then they can tell you to take a walk. It is then up to you to claim unfair dismissal in tribunal, providing of course you have the correct length of employment. This is what the conservatives call flexible working. But, whilst you are unemployed to will not be able to pay the bills and the case could take six months or more to get to tribunal, and you could lose, or get a little compensation, and if you've employed a solicitor, then he or she will take the loin's share of your winnings. If you can get another job, then do that, but a lot of firms are not being fair at the moment, and this situation will continue for a whilst during this prolonged economic turn down.

If you find another job, then take the ex-employer to tribunal. In the meantime, keep records of every minute you work in excess of your actual hours for which you are paid - this 15 minutes extra that the employer can ask you to work is a nonsense - then add them all up and put in a claim when you leave. But, make certain you put in your claim before the three month minus one day deadline, which runs from the last time they made you work extra without payment. If the claim comes to a couple of hundred pounds, then take them to tribunal.

K8Middleton Mon 20-May-13 17:15:50

The advice to go to a tribunal is ridiculous.

squawkparrot Mon 20-May-13 18:28:51

The advice to go to tribunal was not ridiculous if the amount owed is a few hundred pounds and he has left the job; and, his employer may settle before he gets to a hearing. And, I've just read that he has a 16 hour a week contract, but sometimes does not work 16 hours. All those hours that he is underpaid, because despite what they say about a zero-hour contract, he is, it would appear, to be entitled to a minimum of 16 hours pay each week, each and every week, which means that he could be entitled to quite a bit. And, there is a principle involved, it you think it is OK for an employer to steal from you, then do nothing. At the moment it costs nothing to submit an ET1 (employment tribunal claim), so the costs benefit analysis is positive. This type of claim is straight forward, there is nothing ridiculous, it just takes a little determination, time, and guts to stand up for your rights. SquawkParrot is a Barrister-at-law: LLB 1st Class: MSc HRM: ADRg Mediator.

ivykaty44 Mon 20-May-13 18:34:16

you can break the law - but of course if you do that there may be penalties and punishments as a consequence.

People having to face consequences of their illegal actions are often a deterrent to them breaking the same law more than once.

So taking a company to a tribunal could well prevent the same situation occurring again.

K8Middleton Mon 20-May-13 18:37:45

It is ridiculous to suggest tribunal without exhausting the internal grievance process first.

Also you make several statements as if they were fact when the op has been very vague particularly around the evidence for a 16 hour/week contract. We just don't know enough to be making recommendations to go to tribunal at this stage.

I'm all for standing up for your rights but the remedy has to be proportional and the problem has to be evidenced. Regardless of how many letters one claims to have after one's name.

flowery Mon 20-May-13 18:45:27

What K8 said.

Are we parading letters after our names now? On second thoughts, don't think I'll join in that game. That would make me look a bit daft really wouldn't it....?

We don't have anything like enough evidence about what the OP's DH's contractual entitlement is with regard to hours in order to suggest a tribunal claim for non payment of wages, which is presumably what is being suggested.

ivykaty44 Mon 20-May-13 18:47:06

K8 - sorry I would agree with your last post - but not with your other post. I though you meant going to a tribunal was ridiculous

squawkparrot Mon 20-May-13 18:57:24

I said if he leaves his job. And, if his employer is claiming he is on a zero-hour contract, when he does not appear to be, according to the posts, then his employer is not apparently honest, and therefore will not be reasonable even in a grievance hearing, the employer might say, if you don't like it you know what you can do, leave. And, if he is on a zero-hour contract, or his employer is treating him as such, then all the employer has to do is say to him, no work this week or next and never again. A zero-hour contract means that you never have to dismiss, you only have to give no work, which is a dismissal in practice if not in name. We are in the middle of a recession, if the employer wants to treat his employee like that then he may have to put up with it until he finds another job, because if he submits a formal grievance at this stage then his employer might decide to say the work has disappeared for him completely, or he can put up with a little bit of abuse, working these extra hours, until a time when the power balance swings in his favour, i.e. once he has left the employment of this bad employer. Then, he can take the bad employer to tribunal for every penny that he has recorded as being underpaid.

K8Middleton Mon 20-May-13 18:58:02

I meant in the context of this thread, knowing what we know now Ivy.

Tribunals generally are not ridiculous grin

K8Middleton Mon 20-May-13 19:04:49

I was going to go and finish cooking dinner and maybe talk to my family, but I felt it important to point out the following:

A claim for unlawful destruction of wages can be made without leaving employment via an employment tribunal. Or a claim can be made for breach of contract via the county court.

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