Posted by Richard Woodman, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Why companies can’t be caught napping when it comes to night shifts
Nine-to-five is not nearly as common as it used to be. More than 3.5 million people in the UK now work shifts and an increasing number of these are required to do night work.
This is not entirely surprising; the needs of businesses have changed considerably in recent years, with more and more companies operating through the early hours.
But business-owners who do have staff doing night work need to keep a firm grasp on the relevant employment legislation.
To begin with businesses need to be aware that night time working hours are usually between 11pm-6am, although this can flexible if agreed between an employer and their staff.
Anyone who regularly works for three hours or more during this period is classed as a night worker.
There are normally restrictions on how long staff are allowed to work at night, calculated using average working times. Businesses should seek expert advice if they are unsure of the limit and keep a record of working hours for at least two years to prove that employees aren’t doing more than allowed by law.
Health and safety is, of course, a key consideration, particularly in light of several recent studies which have suggested there is a clear link between disruption to the human body clock and a number of health problems.
The Health and Safety Executive has also hammered home the dangers of chronic fatigue and lapses in concentration which can result from people being overworked. In some cases the results could be catastrophic.
Every employee must be offered a free health assessment before they become a night worker and on a regular basis afterwards. A questionnaire, prepared with the help of a qualified health worker, can be used to determine if a member-of-staff is fit to work nights.
Other points to bear in mind are that under 18s are not usually allowed to work at night, and any member-of-staff whose work involves either “special hazards” or mental/physical strain must not work longer than eight hours in any 24-hour period.
There are, however, circumstances where the normal limits for night work do not apply. These include when there has been an emergency, in industries with busy peak periods (including agriculture and tourism) and jobs which require round-the-clock staffing (such as hospital work).
If you would like to clarify the laws relating to night work, the employment team at Royds is available to help. For more information, contact our solicitors today.
It pays to employ the right employment solicitor