• >
  • ...
  • >
  • The clocks are going back—here’s when to pay staff for the extra hour

The clocks are going back—here’s when to pay staff for the extra hour

It’s not just an extra hour in bed… people working at night will have an extra hour on shift. Here’s what employers need to know to get staff shifts and wages right when the clocks go back.

First published on Friday, Oct 23, 2020

Last updated on Tuesday, Oct 31, 2023

4 min read

This year the clocks go back on November 5th at 2:00am. And for most of us that means there’s an extra hour in the night—and a lazy Sunday morning lie-in.

But for those folk working during the night, the extra hour means a longer shift. And if you’re an employer with night workers, then you probably have a lot of questions about staff hours and wages…

Can you actually make staff work for an extra hour? Do you need to give them longer breaks? And do you need to pay them more? Here’s what you need to know:

Employee contracts

The devil is in the detail. Check the exact wording in your employee contracts to see how to manage your staff shifts when the clocks go back.

Because while two phrases might seem to say the same thing at a glance, there’s a very big difference between an ‘eight-hour shift starting at 12am’ and a ‘12am–8am shift’.

Confusing? Let’s take a look at this example:

Take two night shift workers…

Meet Billy and Betty.

Billy’s contract says they work an eight-hour shift starting at 12am. Because the clocks go back at 2am to make it 1am (again!), Billy will have completed eight hours’ work by 7am and can finish his shift. Nice one, Billy!

But Betty’s contract says she works from 12am–8am. So because of the extra hour in her shift (when the clocks go back from 2am to 1am), she’ll have to work a nine-hour shift instead of her usual eight. Not so nice for Betty.

That’s why it’s best practice when drafting contracts to include a provision stating that hours of work are subject to change due to service needs such as clocks going back, or a similar provision that only hours worked will be included in an employee’s pay.

So, do you have to pay staff for the extra hour?

The simple answer is that it comes down to whether the employee is paid a salary or an hourly rate.

Salaried employees will typically get paid their normal salary regardless of the extra hour. But employees on an hourly rate should get an extra hour’s wages for their extra hour’s work depending on the language in their contract.

But it’s not quite that simple…

Three things employers need to consider:

*1. Overtime *

If an employee is working an extra hour, this could take them over their contracted hours. If this is the case, you might need to check your business’s overtime policy and provincial legislations to be sure they don't work past their hours of work limitations.

2. National Minimum Wage

You also need to be careful that the extra hour doesn’t take your employee’s pay below the legal rate.

For example, if a salaried employee on minimum wage does an extra hour’s work for no extra money, this drops their hourly rate—so you need to be careful not to underpay them.

3. Working time

You need to make sure that the extra hour doesn’t mean you’re breaching any working time regulations, too. All adult workers:

  • Must not work more than 8 hours in a workday or 48 hours a week.

  • Are entitled to a 30-minute break after every 5 hours of work.

  • Must get at least 11 consecutive hours off work each day and 8 hours off work between shifts.

Remind staff of the changes

If you have staff due in work on Sunday morning, make sure you remind them about the clocks going back. Or some could turn up for their shift an hour early, which they definitely won’t get paid for…

Call BrightAdvice

And if this all sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry—BrightAdvice is here to help.

Our friendly employment relations experts are here to answer all of your questions about working hours, and our helpline is open 24/7, so we’ll be there when the clocks go back on Sunday if you need us.

Call BrightAdvice on 188 220 4924.

Have a question?

Ask away, we’ve got lightning fast answers for Canadian business owners and employers powered by qualified experts.

Share this article