Hoping for some advice, not sure what the right thing to do is here.
Just started work at the warehouse of a major retailer, doing four nights a week (40 hours) as a stop gap before I start my dream job next month. The hiring is via an agency, if that is relevant.
They have ‘compulsory overtime’, where during the Christmas period, they force everyone to do an extra 10 hours a week, this week it’s an extra 15. The 50 hour weeks will continue for at least the next five weeks or so, or longer, when I’ll be gone.
I have so far refused to work more than 48 hours in a week, and have not ‘opted out’ of the 48 hour working week limit. No one appears to have heard of this, and the agency, HR, and my line manager have all been useless. I’ve since realised, with some googling, that the 48 hour week is an average, so actually they can ‘force’ me to do the extra shifts fairly regularly. Seeing as they’ve been so clueless that the law even exists, I’ve not told them that fact, and am sticking to my guns on not working more than 48 hours in a single week, period.
THEN with more research, I incidentally found out that the opt out doesn’t actually apply to night work at all, and you can’t opt out of the limit for nights. This means all my colleagues who started last week with me, who are doing all the overtime, will be working an illegal number of hours, as they’ve not worked enough normal 40 hour weeks to bring down their averages. None of them have much understanding of employment law either, and feel they have to do the shifts given to them, and some need the money.
So, I strongly feel that I ought to go higher up with this - speak to managers, and if no luck there, go to local MPs and/or the press, to stop this company pressuring everyone to work longer than the law allows. But if I did, and they sorted themselves out, then my colleagues who really need the extra money from working so many hours would lose out. Part of me thinks I’m just being a troublemaker and if no one seems to mind then I should just butt out and leave them to it.
Maybe I could only report it after Christmas is over? Don’t know what to do. Help appreciated! Sorry for the long post.
Are you being paid by the company direct or by the agency? If it’s by the agency, bring it up with them, if it’s by the company, bring it up with them, it’s down to the people paying you to ensure you’re treated correctly. If taking your concerns through the appropriate channels (company grievance process, appeal etc) don’t make any difference, then I suspect the only option would be to ask the agency to relocate you to another job.
I would absolutely not take this further than that, except on your own behalf. If your colleagues wish to enforce their employment rights then they can do so individually or via a union. If that’s something they want to do then they can form a union and elect someone to take this forward on their behalf. The ones who are relying on this additional income will not thank you though, for getting involved if it means they lose out, and you could end up upsetting people a great deal, especially so close to Christmas. Not to be overly emotional about this, but you could end up putting a serious dampener on some people’s Christmas plans. Speaking as someone who’s father worked 60 hours on nights on a regular basis, he didn’t care about the law or his employment rights, he cared about the money. By all means let them know their rights, but let them make the decision for themselves on what’s more important to them.
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