Contractual Working Hours vs Custom & Practice

An employee's contract states their hours of work are 9:00am to 5:00pm however the employee has begun to start earlier and finish earlier (8:30am – 4:30pm). What happens when this has been on going for a number of weeks?

The employee may think they can argue their working hours have changed to permanently be 8:30am – 4:30pm due to custom and practice. However, this generally is only applicable where a contract is silent on an issue and there is no other workplace rule in place, such as a policy, or within a handbook.

The employee is already bound to the express working hours stated within their employment contract and the employer not agreeing to vary the contract, the employer will be able to enforce the contractual hours, being the stated 9:00am to 5:00pm.

The employees earlier conduct of working 8:30am – 4:30pm will not be deemed to have varied of altered the contract however if there has been a very agreement to the change previously, the employee could possibly attempt to argue the new hours are binding.

However should you wish to allow an employee to vary their hours, we recommend holding a meeting to discuss the change and then follow this with formally putting the change hours into writing.

Lawgistics members can get advice on HR issues and Employment law advice by contacting the legal advice line.

Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 21 Mar 2018


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