Saturday, 21 August 2010

Can working unpaid overtime be used as a cheaper option to redundancies?

Very few people could argue that the economic downturn has not put a lot of pressure in a large number of organisations, especially on the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

Although, the great part of them has tried to survive the crisis reducing the working patterns and exponentially increasing flexibility patterns and unpaid leave, some other organisations have tried to survive the crisis pushing employees working unpaid overtime. Allegedly, is not uncommon that in some sectors staff have been working 50-hour weeks.

This actually appears to be a weird solution, in that if and when overtime work is required, that should mean that the current staff is unable to cope with the activities necessary to generate the required output. To cut a long story short, this should eventually mean that things are doing well, if not better than usual, and not bad.

According to Work Wise UK the number of employees’ dismissal case, which could be brought in court against employers, could increase as a consequence of some employees working unpaid overtime.

Contact Law data show that in July requests for employment-related legal advice from staff has risen by 15%, compared to the previous month of June.

For many employers, more likely in the SME, pressure on staff have brought to put on additional work, the suspect is that staff could react promoting some legal action against their organisation.

Mr Phil Flaxton, CEO of Work Wise UK, claims that since the cost of redundancy is expensive in some cases, he does not doubt that there are "unscrupulous employers" that would put "undue and unlawful pressure on staff" leading to more seeking job-related legal advice (Source: CMI).