Many retailers require employees to be present before their store opens for a quick overview of the day ahead and some are often required to stay after hours at the end of the day for cashing up, or while the last customers make their way out of the store. Employees are often not paid for the extra 10 – 15 minutes at either end of the day.
A recent Employment Court case against a national furniture store held that where employees were expected to attend morning meetings before work each day, they were entitled to be paid for this time. The retailer unsuccessfully argued that this time was not considered "work" for the purposes of the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and that they had no obligation to pay employees for these meetings.
The Employment Court made clear that this, along with cashing up, handing over, or waiting until last minute customers leave a store, will be considered "work". Therefore, not paying employees for this time will be considered a failure to meet minimum wage obligations. This decision gives rise to an obligation to make back payments to hundreds of affected employees for the last six years.
Recent headlines suggest that this practice has been widespread and the Labour Inspectorate has been overwhelmed with complaints of a similar nature.
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