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Is it normal for your staff to regularly work beyond their contracted hours?

01 May 2019

Is it normal for your staff to regularly work beyond their contracted hours?

The Governance and Compliance and the Core community to reflect upon their companies’ working practices.

This month we turned our attention to working overtime and asked the Governance and Compliance and the Core community to reflect upon their companies’ working practices.

Nearly 3 quarters (72%) of our community admitted that they regularly worked over their contracted hours. One responder stated that: “Unfortunately, many employers expect Company Secretaries to work unpaid overtime on a regular basis and Company Secretaries by their very nature will work the hours in order to get the job done”.

Issues surrounding confusion between overtime and flexible working came repeatedly with one stating that “flexible working is making the distinction between overtime and contracted hours less clear and increasingly more flexible working is a requirement not an option” and another “it depends on working style. Some team members prefer an early start, others like to stay late. I prefer to leave promptly unless there is a good reason otherwise and pick things up from home if necessary. We are them flexible about early finishes on a Friday when workload allows, accommodating appointments (hair etc. as well as medical!) so it goes both ways”.

When asked what kind of work people tended to do outside hours, answers were mixed with 52% saying that they work on a variety of different tasks outside of hours. 34% said they worked solely on projects, one community member said: “We tend to do what’s needed to get the project done. I encourage my team to take some time in lieu when they’ve worked long hours but that’s not always possible” and another “anything that forms part of the working day. Meetings can go in from 8.00am and if projects require it then evenings, weekends, whatever are accommodated. And then there are the early announcements...”

This was reflected in another comment, which stated “contractual hours are 9.00 am till 5.00pm but it is expected that people will be available to attend meetings from 8.00am and into the evening. Some regular meetings are held at 8.30am and telephone conferences are frequently held at 7.30pm. It is also expected that people will be available to work over weekends when necessary. IT and Operations staff are frequently required to work through the weekend on projects. The legal team regularly works on corporate transactions into the evening and over the weekend. It is expected that senior managers will monitor and respond to emails over the weekend and while on holiday”.This overtime is only paid in 3% of cases, and time in lieu is given to 16% of people.

When time in lieu is given it appears to be informal with responders saying “if we have worked for long periods on projects we may take an extra day in lieu as holiday but o/time hours are not actually recorded”, “overtime is not formally recognised in regular pay. Some flexibility is (e.g. early finish, late start or long lunch on occasion) but the benefit is skewed in the organisation’s favour” and “time off in lieu for junior staff only not managers”.

Worrying, only 27% of our responders thought that overtime actually improved productivity, with one claiming “some companies seem to encourage their staff to stay in the office without really knowing what their staff are doing there”, another stated “generally I don’t think working overtime leads to increased productivity but the modern office environment of open plan with no privacy does mean that if you work out of hours you are usually in a much quieter environment and can concentrate without interruption”. 

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